PORTSMOUTH, Va. - A felony in Virginia means you automatically lose your civil rights to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a notary public and carry a firearm.
All of those rights, except the right to bear arms, can be restored once a person completes their sentence and any probation.
Dashunda Washington is the CEO of Restoration of Rights LLC. She helps people move on from problems in the past.
“For someone who’s 56 years old and made a mistake or may have done a burglary 30 years ago, how long are we going to hold him to that?" she questioned.
Washington says a lot of people don’t know that they can get their gun rights restored.
She also helps those who were formally incarcerated petition for removal from sex offender registries, expungement and pardons.
She claims to have a 100% success rate with about 25 clients in total over the course of two years.
Washington says the key is her clients prove that they’ve done the work to positively impact their community.
“It could be teaching children how to tie [neck] ties, or it could be feeding the homeless,” she explained.
With time, counseling and a commitment to bettering their community, Washington says her clients are able to fully realize a new chapter in life.
“For them, they feel like they’ve been set free,” said Washington. “For them, it feels like, 'I don’t have to carry this weight of people seeing me differently,' so for them, it’s a road to freedom.”
People can file petitions on their own, but it’s very important to do research on the process.
Washington provides services that cost can cost $250-$500. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 757-304-1034.
Individuals are encouraged to contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth to request restoration of their civil rights online or by calling (804) 692-0104.