A felony conviction, to many people, means more than just a loss of physical freedom through incarceration; it is also a loss of many of the privileges that they have enjoyed, and perhaps taken for granted, since they turned 18 years old. A felony conviction results in the forfeiture of many rights including: the right to vote; hold political office; be a notary public; sit on a jury; and purchase, possess, and transport a firearm. However, these rights can be restored, if a convicted felon turns their life around and “stays on the straight and narrow.”
Virginia Code §53.1-231.2 recognizes that many convicted felons can turn their life around, and thus provides a means for a convicted felon to have their political rights restored. Political rights include the right to vote, hold political office, be a notary public, and sit on a jury. There are several pre-requisites that a person must meet before they may request to have their political rights restored. First, they must not be convicted of a violent felony as it is defined in §19.2-297.1 or §17.1-805(C). Second, they cannot have been convicted of a felony under the following Code sections 18.2-248, 18.2-248.01, 18.2-248.1, 18.2-255, 18.2-255.2 or § 18.2-258.02, or 24.2-1016. Third, five years must have passed since the person completed any sentence he/she had to serve pursuant to the conviction; including all probation parole, and suspended sentence. Fourth, the person must have remained free from any other criminal convictions during the five-year period. And finally, the person must demonstrate civic responsibility through community service.
If a person has met all the pre-requisites as laid out above, then the person can petition the Circuit Court in the jurisdiction where they reside, or the Circuit Court where they were convicted of a felony for restoration of their political rights. If the Petition is approved by the Circuit Court, then the Court transmits the Order to the Secretary of the Commonwealth for the Petition to be approved by the Governor of Virginia. If the Governor approves the Petition, then the political rights have been restored. However, if the Governor denies the Petition, then there is no way to appeal the decision and the political rights will not be restored. The person is permitted to re-file a Petition one year after any denial to try to obtain their political rights.
It is important to note that the restoration of political rights is not a pardon for a felony, nor is it an expungement. Those are both separate proceedings that require separate Petitions apart from Restoration of Political Rights. Having your political rights restored also does not restore your right to possess, carry, or transport a firearm. That also requires a separate Petition.
A person can Petition to have their Firearm Rights restored if their Political Rights have been restored by the Governor of Virginia (as discussed above). If the political rights have been restored, then a person can Petition the Circuit Court in the City or County in which they reside to have their firearm rights restored. The Judge in his/her discretion may then grant or deny the Petition to restore the person’s right to possess, carry, and transport a firearm.
An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to have your rights restored, provide you with a comprehensive plan to get yourself eligible for restoration in the future, and when the time comes; advocate on your behalf to have your rights restored. Call our office to get the process started.
Ben Rathsam Esqure
Gun Rights Felony Criminal Defense Criminal Law
How the GOP’s Sweeping Tax Reform Bill Effects Your Divorce:
Much has been made of the recent tax reform bill that was passed by Congress. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, everyone must adapt and adjust to the new tax bill. One major change to the Tax Code is the removal of the deduction for alimony/spousal support payments.
For 75 years the Tax Code has allowed a deduction for the person making alimony/spousal support payments. This deduction was codified in Section 215 of the Tax Code, which stated that there shall be allowed as a deduction an amount equal to the alimony or separate maintenance or support payments made during an individuals taxable year. Thus, if a person was paying $2,000.00 per month in spousal support, then that person would be able to deduct $24,000.00 from their gross income at the end of the tax year. Obviously, this deduction made giving money to an ex-spouse a little easier to stomach.
That has all changed with the GOP’s recent tax bill. Section 11051 of the new Tax Bill repeals Section 215 of the Tax Code, which allowed for alimony or spousal support payments to be deduction from gross income. Alimony is defined in the Tax Bill as money that is received by a spouse under a decree of divorce or other separation instrument-provided that-the payor spouse and payee spouse are not members of the same household, and there is no obligation of the payor spouse to continue to making payments after the payee spouse dies. Therefore, with the passing of the bill, people who are paying alimony or spousal support will no longer be allowed to deduct the amount that they paid in support during the tax year.
So how does this effect your divorce? Well, the answer put simply is it doesn’t . . . right now. Section 11051 does not take effect until January 1, 2019. Thus, if you are currently paying spousal support to an ex-spouse pursuant to a divorce decree, then you are grandfathered into Section 215 of the Tax Code, and can continue to deduct your spousal support payments in perpetuity. Furthermore, any spousal support that is paid pursuant to a divorce decree entered in 2018 is also grandfathered into Section 215 of the Tax Code. However, that all changes in January of 2019. Any spousal support that is ordered to be paid from a divorce decree that is entered in 2019 will not be deducted from the payor’s income. Thus, if you are currently separated from your spouse, then getting your divorce finalized in 2018 could allow you to deduct thousands of dollars from your gross income if you end up paying monthly spousal support.
By Benjamin Rathsam Esq.
Family Law Taxes Trial law
It has been a long and productive year at the firm. We started last year just settling in to a new building on Forest Road and with a new staff. Wanda also began her part time attorney life; which she seems to enjoy.
Once again we had significant growth. We are humbled and excited that the community is continuing to trust us with life’s major moments. The building seems to have been a good move. Many clients commented on it being easier to find and they like the sign.
Our team this year begins at the front with Bernadette Bracci. She is a legal assistant who handles scheduling and real estate closings along with a thousand small things that keep us rolling.
Next we have Marie Bailey, who has worked hard as our real estate closer. We added some great new realtors to our client list this year and it is due to Marie and Bernadette’s hard work. She also loves her career and it shows in how she cares for our clients.
Then we have Ben Rathsam, an Associate who focuses on Criminal Defense and Family Law. He had many successful outcomes last year and its is exciting to see his practice develop.
This year we are adding Melissa Ogden to our team of attorneys. She has been working on projects for years but has decided to make it official in January 2018.
As mentioned, Wanda Yoder is part time now. She enjoys the freedom of retirement but has not been able to stop advocating for clients. She is blessed to love what she does.
I had a great year working on some larger cases. I have been blessed with the opportunity to become counsel for several companies. This has allowed me to really dive deep into business law and it has been exciting to see businesses move forward with my help.
We can not go forward in 2018 without recognizing that all our growth and opportunity came directly from relationships. People like you trusting us and referring us to others. Although we are not perfect, we strive for excellence at every turn. We are committed to doing serving ever better in 2018.
Thank you for allowing a trusted spot in this great community.
FAIRCHILD & YODER PLLC
2016 YEAR END REVIEW
This post comes at the end of January 2017. I have taken some time this month to review and replay the many events that transpired in the growth of the firm. I spoke with my Partner and my staff and 2016 was an amazing and blessed year. It was a year where many of my annual goals were set aside when we took the opportunity to purchase our first building.
In July 2016 we closed on our new office located at 18264 Forest Road Forest, Virginia 24551. It was a building in a great location that has a terrace level office which we rented out. We had to renovate the entire building inside out. I was able to get it turned around in less than one month, and we moved in September 1 2016. We have received a lot of great feedback on the building and it has been great to know people now see our sign out front.
2016 was bitter sweet in that our staff members saw a lot of personal and professional growth. We had a turnover of half the staff, but finished the year strong and have found our new team; which we feel are going to do great job handling the continued growth we will see in 2017.
2016 was a year of significant growth in cases and clients. We saw an increase in our ability to serve the community and added many new clients. We were extremely fortunate to be voted by our community as Lynchburg’s Best Law Firm in Lynchburg Living Magazine. For that we are very grateful.
In conclusion, from our firm to your families and businesses: Thank You! We are looking forward to serving you in 2017.