Gun Rights Restoration
Who is Eligible to have Gun Rights Restored in Virginia?
If you have lost your right to own or posses a firearm, most frequently due to a felony conviction in Virginia, you may be able to have your gun rights restored. Va. Code § 18.2-308.2(C). Virginia cannot restore rights if your felony was from another state, or if you were convicted in federal court. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, your firearm rights cannot be restored.
If your other rights have been restored by the Governor, this did not restore your firearm rights.
What is the Gun Rights Restoration Process?
If you have lost your rights because of a Virginia felony, you have have your civil rights (voting, running for office, etc) restored by the Governor. Once this is completed, you can Petition a Virginia Circuit Court for gun rights restoration. If you currently reside in Virginia, then you will petition the Circuit Court where you live. If you live outside Virginia, then you will petition the Circuit Court of your most recent felony conviction.
This process applies only to felony convictions in Virginia. Virginia cannot restore your rights for felonies committed elsewhere, or for federal felonies, even if they were in Virginia. In short, Virginia can only restore what Virginia took away (not another state, and not the federal government). Further, there is no process to restore gun rights if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
This process is more discretionary than most legal process, and it is important to have an attorney who is invested in your success. The standard set forth in the statute is that the Court “may” grant your gun rights restoration for “good cause.”
The first step is to file a Petition with the relevant Circuit Court. You will also have to submit a copy of your fingerprints. This finger print card is sent to the Virginia State Police, along with a copy of the Order, if your petition is granted. The Commonwealth’s Attorney will have an opportunity to object to the Petition. Alternatively they may choose not to object. Regardless of the Commonwealth’s position, many jurisdictions require a hearing on the petition.
While the statute does not outline what exactly “good cause” is, case-law suggests that the following factors should be considered:
- Nature of the Crimes – Were your crimes violent or non-violent?
- Use of Firearm in Crimes – Did you use or posses a firearm in the commission of the crimes?
- Time Since Convictions- How long his been since your last felony conviction?
- Effective Punishment – Was your sentence effective?
- Otherwise Law Abiding Life – Have you stayed out of trouble since your felony conviction(s)?
- Rehabilitation Efforts – Have you done anything for yourself/community to actively heal or make of for your past crimes, e.g; substance abuse treatment, volunteering?
- Lawful Purpose- Are you seeking your rights back for a lawful purpose?
Our gun rights restoration attorney will work with you to make sure that your Petition has the information the Court will want and will be prepared to talk to the court about who you are now, and why you should have your rights restored.
Once an Order is entered, it is important to make sure it is sent to the appropriate police agencies so that you can safely exercise your newly restored rights.
Hire a Virginia Gun Rights Restoration Attorney
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If you have specific questions, contact us and we will do our best to help.