Expungements and Pardons in Virginia
We get a lot of phone calls from people who have been convicted of crimes, wanting to have their convictions expunged. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do — Virginia law is very clear that you can only have a charge expunged if you are found not guilty or the charge is dropped. Virginia is one of the harshest, least forgiving states in the nation in this regard.
We have sometimes been successful in asking the Governor for a “simple pardon” of the offense. A “simple pardon”, according to the Governor’s office, is “a statement of official forgiveness.” A simple pardon does not expunge (remove the conviction from) the record, but it might be a help to someone whose criminal record seems to be holding them back.
When we have helped someone get a simple pardon, we file a fairly detailed report on the person. We try to show that the person has been a good citizen, and we bring in letters of support from the Sheriff, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and other people who know the person.
One time when a simple pardon can be particularly appropriate is when the person has been convicted of a domestic assault and battery, and can’t have a firearm because of that conviction.
We recently obtained a simple pardon for someone who had been convicted of assault on his wife more than 35 years ago; now he wanted to be able to take his grandchildren hunting. We filed about 20 pages of documents in support of this Petition, and it was granted. Our client is very happy that he will be able to take his grandchildren hunting with him when deer season opens this fall.