Posted from the Secretary of the Commonwealth

General Information

Pardons are considered for exceptional situations. Usually Virginia governors are reluctant to substitute their judgment for that of the courts. However, if an individual feels able to provide substantial evidence of such exceptional circumstances, he or she may submit a petition for pardon to the Governor. (If this petition for clemency is denied, the petitioner has no right of appeal, but may reapply after a two-year period.)

Three Pardon Types

There are three types of pardons:

1. A Simple Pardon is a statement of official forgiveness. While it does not expunge (remove the conviction from) the record, it often serves as a means for the petitioner to advance in employment, education, and self-esteem. Evidence of good citizenship is required, as are favorable recommendations from the officials involved in the case and from the Virginia Parole Board. Get more information about Simple Pardons.

2. A Conditional Pardon is available only to people who are currently incarcerated. It is usually granted for early release and involves certain conditions; if you violate these conditions, you could be put back in prison. There must be extraordinary circumstances for an inmate to be considered for such a pardon. Get more information about Conditional Pardons.

3. An Absolute Pardon is rarely granted because it is based on the belief that the petitioner was unjustly convicted and is innocent. An absolute pardon is the only form of executive clemency that would allow you to petition the court to have that conviction removed from your criminal record. Get more information about Absolute Pardons.

All petitions for pardon require you to send the Governor a letter clearly stating your request for pardon – and what type of pardon you wish to be granted. All pardons will be processed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Office.

Please direct all questions to:

Jennifer Crown, Clemency Specialist
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Post Office Box 2454
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2454

or use our Inquiry Form