Rights Restoration

The consequences of a criminal conviction go well beyond jail time and probation.

Millions of Americans have criminal records, and the number of laws and policies excluding them from opportunities and benefits continues to grow.

But many people with criminal convictions can live productive and law-abiding lives after completion of their court-imposed sentences. One way to move forward after the criminal process may be expungement  of the arrest record.  But there are other rights that may have been affected, including civil rights (voting, jury service) and firearm ownership and possession.

Why rights restoration is complicated

Rights restoration can be complicated because of the interplay between federal and Virginia law. A right eligible for restoration under Virginia law may not be eligible under federal law. But the first step in any rights restoration process is state restoration of civil rights.

It starts by restoring your civil rights

Under Virginia law and federal law, civil rights are lost when someone is convicted of any felony. So what are they prohibited from doing?

  • Voting
  • Serving on a jury
  • Possessing a firearm.

Civil rights (apart from firearm rights) may be restored by the Governor of Virginia if someone applies through the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

For more information on this process, please visit the website for the secretary of the commonwealth.

You can start this simple process on your own without the services of an attorney.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for restoration of civil rights, you must have completed any probation or parole. Once restored by the governor, you are eligible to vote in both state and federal elections, run for office, and serve on a state jury (federal jury eligibility may be permanently barred).

To find out about restoration of firearms rights, please visit our firearms restoration and concealed weapons section of this website.