In Virginia, and I'm fairly sure it is close to the same in every
state, this is a two step process. First you must go through the
process of "Restoration of Rights". A restoration of rights restores
the rights which were lost because of a felony conviction, whereas a
pardon is an act of complete forgiveness. In order to apply for a
pardon, you must first have your rights restored.
You can apply to have your rights restored 3 years after completion of
the sentence for a nonviolent crime, and 5 years after completion of
sentence for violent crimes, drug offenses, and electronic fraud.
The restoration of rights returns the; right to vote, sit on jury,
hold public office, and serve as a notary public. It does not return
the right to bare arms. That is a separate process, which can be done
after a restoration of rights in which the circuit court of the
jurisdiction is petitioned 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 permit.
Pardon: ?Simple? pardon does not expunge the record, but ?it does
constitute official forgiveness and often serves as a means for the
petitioner to advance in employment, education, and self-esteem.? See
?Pardon Letter,? supra. ?Absolute? pardon generally granted only for
innocence. (?Conditional? pardon reduces sentence.) Pardon is useful
in signifying rehabilitation, but Virginia authorities advise that it is not
clear what if any legal effect a pardon may have under state law.
Pardon does not entitle a person to judicial expungement unless
granted for innocence (?absolute? pardon). Neither restoration of
rights nor pardon restores right to possess firearms, which is controlled
by court. Va. Stat. Ann. §18.2-308.2, amended by 2005 Va. Acts ch.
600 and 2005 Va. Acts ch. 833; see also
(persons whose civil rights have been restored may apply to the court
for restoration of gun rights).
That PDF file linked to above is a complete description of the process
and requirement needed for a pardon in Virginia.
It was written by Margaret Colagate Love, a Justice Department Pardon Attorney,
She could be a very good place to start looking for an attorney, if
she can't help you herself, I'm sure she would have very good