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Getting a pardon in Virginia

Rebuilding one’s life after a criminal conviction in Roanoke can certainly be an uphill battle, yet not necessarily one that cannot be won provided one knows the correct steps to take. The restoration of one’s right own a firearm again can be a part of that victory, but only in select circumstances. One of those would be if one were to be pardoned under the state’s Constitution. 

A pardon may seem to be a simple thing; those who are granted one are, in essence, “forgiven” of whatever criminal activity they were convicted of. According to the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, however, there are actually three types of pardons: 

  • Simple pardons
  • Conditional pardons
  • Absolute pardons

An absolute pardon is likely the type that most would associate with the word itself. This type of pardon is typically issued in cases where the petitioner is believed to be innocent. Those granted an absolute pardon would then be able to ask that their convictions be completely removed from their criminal records. A simple pardon, on the other hand, does not expunge a conviction. Rather, it is an official statement of forgiveness that can help open up educational or employment opportunities otherwise restricted due to one’s conviction. 

A conditional pardon is issued to those currently in prison that grants their release on the condition that they follow certain guidelines and standards. The restoration of one’s gun rights will often not accompany this type of pardon. 

Information gathered by the Restoration of Rights Project shows that one is immediately eligible for an absolute pardon for non-violent crimes. Violent criminal offenders must wait three years before petitioning for this type of pardon. One can seek a simple pardon after five years.