Restoration of Rights

Driver’s license restoration

If you were convicted of a series of driving offenses and have had your driver’s license taken indefinitely (either as an habitual offender or because of a third DUI), you have to go back to court to get your license restored.  This involves a period of provable sobriety, an evaluation by the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP), and a clean record for the past few years.   If you used to have a drinking problem and you lost your license, and now you need to get your license back, we can help.

Gun rights restoration

If you have been convicted of a felony, you already know that you have lost certain valuable rights.  For example, you have lost the right to possess a firearm.  You have lost the right to vote.  Virginia is one of only two states in the country (Kentucky is the other) where these rights are not restored after completing probation or living without new charges.

If you have been convicted of a felony and you want your gun rights restored, the first step is to ask the Governor to have your other (non-gun) rights restored.  Once that has happened, we file a petition in the Circuit Court of the city or county in which you live, and we ask that judge to restore your gun rights.

After years of resistance from earlier governors, Governor McAuliffe’s office seems pretty helpful in getting that first step completed, but there still seems to be a 9 to 12 month wait.  We may be able to help expedite the process, but we won’t likely be able to work miracles there.  If you need things resolved so that you can go on a hunting trip next month, that won’t be happening.   Here is an explanation of the Governor’s process.  If you don’t do this correctly with an eye to both state and federal law, you could go through the Governor’s process and still not have your right to hunt restored.  Call us and we’ll help you navigate this thicket.

Through a bizarre quirk in federal and state law, the Governor’s power to restore rights does not apply if you were found guilty of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and you are barred by federal law from possessing a firearm.  If  that is your situation, and you want your right to possess a firearm restored, the only thing that you can do is to seek a simple pardon on that charge.

Virginia law permits a Governor to issue three kinds of pardons:

  • A simple pardon is considered to be a statement of forgiveness — a statement that you should be allowed to have certain rights restored.  It is not a statement that you did not commit the crime.   An application for a simple pardon requires providing a lot of personal information to show the Governor that you have rehabilitated yourself.  If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, you may need to have a simple pardon to have your right to possess a firearm restored.  We have experience seeking, and obtaining, simple pardons for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. Be aware, though, that Governor McAuliffe’s office now requires that 10 years go by from the tme that you got out of jail or off of supervised probation before they will even consider a pardon request.
  • A conditional pardon is available only to inmates, and they are usually time reductions because of some good deed that the inmate has done while in prison.
  • An absolute pardon is a statement that you did not commit the crime, and that you were unjustly convicted.  Absolute pardons are extremely rare.

If you think you might qualify for a pardon, and would like us to file a petition for a pardon for you, please call us at 434-293-8185.