What is a pardon?

A pardon is when an authorized body (judge, head of state, president or king) forgives a person who was accused or convicted of criminal activity, thereby canceling the relevant legal proceeding – be it an investigation, trial or imprisonment. In general, a pardon enables an inmate to leave prison, but sometimes it constitutes only the reduction of the sentence.

The different between forgiveness and pardon or clemency

Forgiveness generally refers to interpersonal relations
A pardon or clemency is a matter between a person who holds a specific status or position and a criminal

We all have the power to forgive others, but the power to grant a pardon and clemency is given to judges, kings, presidents and the like

Forgiveness is the restoration of an interpersonal relationship after it was harmed following a harmful or insulting act. A pardon, on the other hand, involves waiving all or part of the punishment

Forgiveness is more a response to an injury or insult than to a crime perpetrated by a criminal, and it constitutes an alternative to holding a grudge. Clemency and pardon constitute alternative responses to a complete punishment and pertain to violations of the law

Forgiveness, as a matter involving a personal relationship, necessitates equality in the status of the forgiver and the forgiven party.
In contrast, a pardon assumes and even stresses a hierarchical relationship of superiority and inferiority, where the source of power releases the inferior party from punishment. There is no room for mutuality and equality where clemency is involved

With forgiveness there are no rules and laws, but clemency and pardon are governed by certain rules.