Frequently asked questions about pardons
A simple pardon is a statement of official forgiveness. While it does not remove the conviction from the record, it often serves as a means for the petitioner to advance in employment, education, and self-esteem. If a simple pardon is granted, a notation will be added to the criminal record showing the word “pardon” next to the conviction.
In order to be eligible for a simple pardon, you must:
- Be free of all conditions set by the court (including any probation period, suspended time, or good time behavior) on all convictions followed by a waiting period of five years.
- Have been granted your Restoration of Rights before petitioning for the pardon. This is only required for felony convictions.
A conditional pardon is an act to modify or end a sentence imposed by the court. Conditional pardons are rare as the Governor does not typically substitute their judgment for that of the courts. In order to be eligible for a conditional pardon, you must be currently incarcerated.Medical
A medical pardon is a form of a conditional pardon and is granted to incarcerated individuals who are terminally ill. In order to be considered for medical clemency, the individual must have a life expectancy of three months or less. Due to this shortened time frame, medical pardons are handled in an expedited process.Immigration
A partial pardon is a form of a conditional pardon and can be granted to individuals who are experiencing immigration issues. In order to be considered for immigration related clemency, the individual must be facing deportation in 30 days or less. Due to this shortened time frame, immigration clemency requests are handled in an expedited process.
An absolute pardon may be granted when the Governor is convinced that the petitioner is innocent of the charge for which he or she was convicted. An absolute pardon is often a remedy of last resort.
In order to be eligible for an absolute pardon, you must have:
- Pled not guilty throughout the judicial process.
- Exhausted all forms of judicial appeals and other remedies, including a Writ of Actual Innocence.
Frequently Asked Questions
A pardon provides unique relief to individuals with exceptional circumstances who have demonstrated rehabilitation. If an individual feels they are able to provide substantial evidence of such exceptional circumstances, they may petition the Governor for a pardon.
A petition can be submitted using the online form, or by mailing the petition to our office. All pardon petitions submitted via mail must be accompanied by the pardon petition questionnaire form.
There is no reliable method of predicting how long a pardon petition will take to complete. The investigation process may take two years or longer. We appreciate your patience during this time.
No. You do not need an attorney to submit a pardon petition. Eligible individuals may petition the Governor for a pardon by submitting all of the requested information.
No. A pardon does not remove the crime from the record. Virginia currently has very limited opportunities for expungement. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Virginia General Assembly expanded expungement provisions. To read about the expanded provisions, click here.
If your pardon is denied, you may not appeal the decision. You may however file a new petition three years after the date of the denial letter.
If you’ve been convicted of multiple crimes, your petition should specify which conviction(s) you wish the Governor to pardon. If you are seeking a pardon for multiple convictions, you should provide separate reasons for why the Governor should pardon each conviction.
No. The Governor only has authority to pardon crimes committed in Virginia.
Documents (or copies of documents) submitted to our office for pardon consideration cannot be copied or returned. For this reason, please be sure to retain copies of all documents sent to our office.
The petition process does not include a hearing, meeting, or conference with the petitioner or persons on the petitioner’s behalf.
We must have your consent in order to discuss any aspect of your petition with another individual, including the petition’s status. You may also submit a letter or email at any time authorizing additional individuals to speak to our office on your behalf.
Eligibility for clemency depends on the type of pardon you are seeking. Regardless of which type of pardon you are applying for, the convictions must have occurred in Virginia. Please review eligibility requirements above.
In accordance with Va. Code §18.2-308.2, the Governor of Virginia does not restore the right to ship, transport, possess or receive firearms. These rights must be restored by a court.
If you are interested in petitioning to have your firearm rights restored, please note the following:
- If you were convicted of a felony in a Virginia Circuit Court and still reside in Virginia, you must petition the Circuit Court in the locality in which you live.
- If you were convicted of a felony in a Virginia Circuit Court and reside outside of Virginia, you must petition the Circuit Court in which you were convicted.
Any additional questions regarding firearms restoration should be directed to the Virginia State Police Help Desk at (804) 674-2292 or (804) 674-2788.
A pardon provides unique relief to individuals with exceptional circumstances who have demonstrated rehabilitation. It represents official forgiveness, can commute a sentence, and in some extremely rare circumstances, exonerate an individual. The Governor also has the authority to restore the civil rights-- the right to vote, serve on a jury, become a notary public, or run for public office-- to anyone who has been convicted of a felony. Restoring your rights does not serve as official forgiveness and does not remove anything from your criminal record.
The Governor has no jurisdiction over the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. You will need to contact the circuit court where you were convicted for information related to possible relief or removal from the registry. You may also refer to the following sections of the Code of Virginia for additional information: § 9.1-909. Relief from registration or reregistration or § 9.1-910. Removal of name and information from Registry
Submit a Petition
To submit a pardon petition online click here.
To submit a hard copy of a pardon petition click here.
To have a hard copy of the information on this website click here.
Check the Status of a Pardon Petition
To check the status of an existing pardon petition click here.
Submit a Letter of Support or Opposition
To submit a letter of support or opposition for a pardon click here.
Please direct all questions to: