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If I have been convicted of a felony, can I restore my right to vote?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Having been convicted of a felony can feel like one has been shut out of being a contributing member of society. Having a felony strips people of many civil rights such as voting, running for political office, becoming a notary, serving on a jury and legally owning a firearm.

Virginians who have been convicted of a felony may be happy to hear that Governor Northam updated the requirements to restore civil rights on March 16, 2021. It is up to the sole discretion of the Governor to restore civil rights, all except the right to own a firearm.

Eligibility requirements to restore civil rights

To qualify for the possibility of having civil rights restored after a felony conviction, a person must be free from any terms that resulted from conviction, such as parole or probation.

Where do I start?

In the past, attempting to restore civil rights was an intimidating process. However, thanks to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office streamlining efforts, the process has been simplified. To initiate the process, contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office to request the restoration of civil rights.

Why does restoration of civil rights not include firearms?

The right to bear arms overlaps with federal jurisdiction. When having civil rights restored after a state felony conviction, it is not impossible to have the right to legally own firearms restored as well. However, it is a separate process and should be initiated by contacting the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office in Virginia.

Getting help

To ensure that your rights are protected and to increase your chances of having your civil rights restored, it can be helpful to have professional guidance that is experienced with the process in Virginia.