If an individual has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor of a certain class, he/she may be prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms under federal and state law. However, there is a method to have these rights restored, especially in light of recent developments in Virginia over the past few years.
In 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe began restoring certain rights to felons on a case-by-case basis in effort to restore voting rights to non-violent offenders and the like. As of April 2017, Governor McAuliffe had restored rights to over 500,000 convicted felons.
By granting clemency to these convicted felons to restore their right to vote, Governor McAuliffe also opened up the possibility for convicted felons to restore their right to possess a firearm.
This restoration of the right to possess a firearm is not automatic and to do so one must petition his/her local court to have that right restored.
Under Va. Code § 18.2-308.2(C), to restore one’s gun rights, one must first “petition the circuit court of the jurisdiction in which he resides . . . for a permit to possess or carry a firearm.” Va. Code § 18.2-308.2(C). The petitioner must mail or deliver a copy of the petition to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the jurisdiction where the petition is filed. The petitioner must include several documents to present a compelling case and it is advised to hire an attorney to assist in this delicate process.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney is entitled to respond to the petition and represent the interests of the Commonwealth. Although the Commonwealth’s Attorney should file an answer after filing the petition, it is advised to have an attorney contact the Commonwealth’s Attorney to learn more on their policy/view of the case as sometimes the Commonwealth opposes the petition or seeks restrictions.
Either party (the petitioner or the Commonwealth) may request a hearing if they desire. If a party requests a hearing, the court must conduct one.
The restoration of the right to possess a firearm is not automatic and the judge is not required to restore the right. It is in the court’s discretion, for good cause shown, to grant a petition and issue a permit. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney prepare the documents and a compelling argument to increase your chances of restoration. Contact W.H. Fisher LLC today to assist you in this matter.
Keep in mind, this process only applies to felony convictions in the Virginia circuit courts. Other restrictions may still limit the right to own a firearm, such as federal offenses, an assault and battery conviction on a family member, a protective order, etc.