If you’ve ever committed a crime, or know someone who has committed a crime, you understand how severely this can impact a person’s life and livelihood. From where you live to where you work, having a criminal record can ultimately end up reducing a person’s overall quality of life. However, did you know that in the state of Virginia, there is not just one type of pardon that can be issued by the Governor…but four?
Keep reading to learn more about what a legal pardon is and the different types of pardons that are available for people convicted of crimes in Virginia.
What is a Pardon?
The idea of a pardon is a very simple one. Those who are granted a pardon are, in essence, “forgiven” of whatever criminal activity they were convicted of. A pardon may help you or your loved one pursue educational, professional, or personal goals if a criminal history has held you back.
Who Qualifies for a Pardon in Virginia?
In Virginia, a pardon is an official forgiveness of a crime. It is granted by the Governor of Virginia, either on the recommendation of the Virginia Parole Board or on the Governor's own initiative.
To qualify for a pardon in Virginia, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- They must have completed all terms of their sentence, including any probation or parole.
- They must have demonstrated good conduct for a significant period of time after their conviction. This typically means at least five years, but it can be longer in some cases.
- They must show that they have been rehabilitated and are no longer a threat to society.
- They must not have any pending criminal charges or investigations against them.
- They must not have been convicted of any other crimes since their original conviction.
- They must meet any other requirements set forth by the Governor or the Virginia Parole Board.
It's important to note that pardons are not automatically granted and are considered on a case-by-case basis. The process for obtaining a pardon in Virginia can be lengthy and may require the assistance of an attorney.
What are the Four Types of Pardons in Virginia?
Below are listed the four types of pardons you can apply for depending on your circumstances:
- Simple Pardon
- Conditional Pardon
- Medical Pardon
- Absolute Pardon
A ‘simple pardon’ is an official act of forgiveness that is available to anyone who has completed all of the terms of their criminal sentence. This does not expunge a conviction, but can open up educational or employment opportunities that may have been closed to an individual due to their criminal record. A simple pardon is also followed by a waiting period of five years.
A ‘conditional pardon’ is essentially early release for a prisoner who demonstrates extraordinary circumstances to support being released from his or her sentence before it has been completed. The restoration of one’s gun rights will often not be included in this type of pardon.
A ‘medical pardon’ is also early release for a prisoner, but only for one who is terminally ill and expected to live three months or less.
An ‘absolute pardon’ is only available to people who were wrongfully convicted of a crime for which they are actually innocent. Those granted an absolute pardon would then be able to ask that their convictions be completely removed from their criminal records.
Virginia State Resources for Getting a Pardon
If you are seeking a pardon in Virginia, here are some state resources that may be helpful:
The Virginia Parole Board: The Virginia Parole Board is responsible for reviewing applications for pardons and making recommendations to the Governor. You can contact the Virginia Parole Board for more information about the pardon process and to request an application.
The Office of the Governor: The Governor of Virginia has the authority to grant pardons. You can contact the Governor's office to learn more about the pardon process and to request an application.
The Virginia State Bar: The Virginia State Bar is the professional organization for attorneys in Virginia. You can contact the Virginia State Bar for information about finding an attorney who can help you with the pardon process.
The Virginia Department of Corrections: The Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible for the supervision and rehabilitation of individuals who are incarcerated in Virginia. You can contact the Virginia Department of Corrections for information about programs and services that may be available to help you with the pardon process.
It's important to note that the pardon process in Virginia can be complex and may require the assistance of an attorney. It may be helpful to seek legal advice if you are considering applying for a pardon.
Pardons Can Only Be Given by the Governor's Discretion
It should be noted however that all petitions for pardons are considered by the governor’s office and are entirely discretionary. This means that even if you qualify for a certain pardon, the governor’s office is not required to give it to you. Because of this, it is always wise to consult with an attorney to decide whether or not you or a loved one would make a good candidate for a pardon, and which type of pardon would be most applicable to your specific situation. The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law is a boutique law firm in Virginia that specializes in immigration and criminal law. Contact them today for a free consultation!