Senator Surovell strongly believes that there should be consequences for the conviction of a felony, but once a person has served their sentence, they should be afforded a second chance and the opportunity to otherwise participate in our community.
In Virginia, once an individual is convicted of a felony, they forfeit many civil rights in Virginia. This prohibition is in the Constitution of Virginia and was added in 1902 in response to significantly increased voter participation by poor whites and African-Americans after the Civil War:
"No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority."
Additionally, any individual who moves to Virginia who was convicted of a felony of another state likewise cannot exercise certain rights without restoration. The Governor is afforded complete discretion to restore rights.
The following rights can be restored by the Governor:
- The Right to Vote
- The Right to Serve on a Jury
- The Right to Run for Public Office
- The Right to Serve as a Notary Public
The eligibility requirements are the following:
- Be a resident of Virginia and/or have been convicted of a felony in a Virginia court, a U.S. District Court or a military court.
- Violent, drug distribution, crimes against minors, or election law offenders must complete a three (3) year provisional waiting period after the completion of any served sentence, and/or supervised probation or parole
- Not have any pending criminal charges for non-violent offenders
- Not have any misdemeanor convictions and/or pending criminal charges within three (3) years for violent, drug distribution, crimes against minors, or election law offenders immediately preceding the application.
- Not have a conviction for DWI within the past five (5) years immediately preceding the application.
Our current Governor has set up a streamlined process for the restoration of rights and has committed to process all requests within 90 days and has condensed the required paperwork.
Non-violent offenders do not have to wait after completing a served sentence and/or supervised probation or parole. The Department of Corrections sends a monthly list to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office of those who qualify. Those that qualify are sent letters at their last known address with the offer of beginning the process to restore their rights. If you have not received this letter, you may fill out the online contact form here or print, complete, and mail a contact form here.
Offenders convicted of violent crimes, drug distribution crimes, crimes against minors, or election law crimes must fill out an application for restoration of rights, which can be found here. A list of offenses that meet this criteria can be found here. Offenders convicted of these crimes must wait three (3) years before filling out this application. Applications will not be approved for any offender with a misdemeanor conviction or any pending criminal charges in the past three years.
Restoration is not a pardon, does not restore the right to possess a firearm and does not authorize expungement of charges. Information on pardons can be found here. The Right to Possess a Firearm is a right that may only be restored by a Virginia Circuit Court after a hearing pursuant to § 18.2-308.2 of the Code of Virginia.
Offenders with their rights restored may update their criminal records to show that their rights have been restored. Instructions to do so can be found here.
If you are in the process of restoring your rights, you can check on your status here.
If you would like Senator Surovell to assist you with the process of restoring your rights, please click on the button below and his office will be in touch. You can also call his office at 571.249.4484.