Restoring Rights in the Commonwealth

CapitolRestoration of rights for felons in Virginia has been in the news a lot recently.  After several months of upheaval, the process for a felon to get their civil rights restored has been redefined.

When talking about restoration of rights, these rights include the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, or be a notary public.

Back in April 2016, Governor McAuliffe restored the civil rights of all convicted felons (206,000 people) at the same time in a blanket order.  This action was struck down by the Virginia Supreme Court in late July.

In a 4-3 ruling, the justices said the governor can restore rights to felons on an individual basis, but said it was unconstitutional to do it through a blanket order.

Since that ruling in late July, the Governor’s office has taken a new more individualized approach to restoring these rights.

In August, Governor McAuliffe restored the rights of 13,000 felons and the Secretary of the Commonwealth is now in the process reviewing the remaining felons on a case by case basis.

Every month the Governor restores the rights of another group of felons whose cases have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for restoration.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth is starting with reviewing those felons who have been released from incarceration the longest and working towards the present.  The restoration of rights policy only extends to felons who have finished serving their terms.  Anyone in prison, or on supervised probation or parole cannot have their rights restored until those conditions are up.

If you or a loved one wants to know if their rights have been restored, you can visit this website:

If your rights have not been restored, you can fill out a request on that same website and the government will give your request priority.

The new restoration of rights policy does not apply to firearm rights.  That is an entirely different process that must be sought through the Circuit Courts.

Restoration of rights is also separate from seeking and expungement or any type of pardon.

If you have questions about restoration of civil rights, expungements, or pardons, please contact the attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)423-1382 or email us at