Solely the Governor has the authority to grant clemency and he may do so at
his discretion. This discretionary power allows each governor to establish
his own guidelines and policies regarding the eligibility of those seeking
There are two types of clemency: Restoration of Civil Rights
A restoration of rights restores the rights which are lost upon
a felony conviction. These include the rights to vote, to run for and hold
public office, to serve on juries and to serve as a Notary Public. It does
not include the right to possess or transport any firearm or to carry a concealed
weapon. [If the Governor
restores your rights, you may petition the circuit court of the jurisdiction
in which you reside for a permit to possess or carry a firearm. The court may,
in its discretion and for good cause shown, grant such a petition and issue a
There are three types of pardons: simple, conditional, and absolute. All
three types require the petitioner to write a letter to the governor stating
why the pardon should be granted. If you have been convicted of a felony
you must have your rights restored before the Governor will consider a petition
for a pardon.
Under Article V, Section 12, of the Virginia Constitution
and Section 53.1-229 through 53.1-231 of
the Code of Virginia, all clemency authority is vested solely in the Governor.
Clemency is not guaranteed and if a petition is denied, the petitioner has
no right of appeal.
Petitions for the restoration of rights and pardons are
processed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Files are reviewed according
to the order in which a completed application is received. The petitioner is
notified by mail as to whether his or her petition has been granted or denied
by the Governor.