The limitations and restrictions that a criminal conviction can place on you in Roanoke have been detailed on this blog in the past. Being associated with criminal activity can hinder your chances at finding a job or securing housing, and a criminal conviction also places restrictions on your right to own a gun. Yet what many fail to realize (and what you may just be learning) is that certain other civil rights may be stripped from you when you are convicted of a crime. Chief among these is the right to vote.
There may be several burgeoning legislative efforts in your local area to help support your rights, and you no do want to do your part to push those through. How can you, however, if you are restricted from voting? Per the Restoration of Rights Project, Virginia is one of the few states that does not automatically restore your voting rights after you have completed all of the punitive terms associated with your conviction. Rather, much as is the case for expungement, you must petition to have your voting rights restored via a pardon from the state’s governor. In the past, efforts have been undertaken to allow for rights restoration actions that address multiple individuals, yet those have failed to be enacted into law. Currently, the governor still considers voting rights restoration cases on an individual basis.
If you were convicted of a non-violent offense, you may be eligible to have your voting rights restored immediately upon the completion of your sentence. If your conviction was for a violent crime, you typically must wait five before initiating a petition. In either case, the Department of Corrections must provide you with information about rights restoration once you have completed the terms of your sentence.