How to Restore Civil Rights

By Michael Davidson
Restoring civil rights is frequently a lengthy process.
Justice image by MVit from Fotolia.com

If you have been convicted of a felony, you're likely to have had your civil rights taken away by the state in which you reside. These rights include the right to vote, own a firearm, serve as a juror and run for public office. Every state has its own laws and provisions concerning how these civil rights can be restored. Some rights are restored automatically in some states, while others are permanently denied unless the offender is granted clemency. Getting your civil rights restored is usually a lengthy process that takes a lot of time and patience.

Check the laws of your state to see if your civil rights will be restored automatically after your sentence has been completed. The state policy may depend on the severity of the crime committed. Some states will restore voting rights but not gun rights with violent offenders.

Collect letters of reference or character affidavits from friends, family, clergy and any other influential people in your life. While these are rarely required, they can be greatly beneficial to your case.

Fill out and submit an application for civil rights restoration and include copies of your letters of recommendation. Some states, such as Arizona, have an application specifically for this purpose while other states, like Florida, require you to apply for clemency to get your rights restored. Check your state website for the appropriate form. There should be an address at the top that indicates where to send it to. You should not be on any form of probation when the application is sent, and all of your sentencing guidelines should be completed.

Attend any hearings that are scheduled to examine the details of your case. Bring character witnesses in case the court grants them the right to make a statement about your personality.

Await the decision. It can take years for a case to be heard and decided due to an extensive backlog of requests, so remain patient and keep your records organized so you have them ready when needed.

About the Author

Michael Davidson started writing screenplays in 2003 and has had a screenplay professionally produced. He has also studied martial arts since 1990 and has worked as a licensed security specialist. Davidson has written articles for various websites. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising.