One of the worst parts of getting a felony conviction is that even after serving your sentence, life still does not return to normal. Some of the rights you lose due to your new felon status follow you for the remainder of your life. One of these consequences is that you are legally prevented from owning or carrying a firearm as a convicted felon. However, this does not mean there is nothing you can ever do to get your gun rights back. Under certain circumstances, it is possible to have your gun rights restored after serving time as a convicted felon. A convicted felon can get their gun rights back by expunging their felony convictions, applying for a restoration of gun rights, or requesting a pardon from the governor.
Expungement of Felony Convictions
If you were convicted of a crime that is considered a “nonviolent felony,” you may be eligible to apply for an expungement of your convictions. This essentially means that, if granted, an expungement would make your record appear as if the conviction had never occurred. The court would restore all the rights and abilities you lost due to your felony conviction. To be eligible for an expungement, your conviction’s sentence or probation must have been completed at least ten years ago or more. Additionally, your conviction must be a Class H or Class I felony, and cannot involve any kind of violence or assault, require placing your name on the sex offender registry, involve the possession of heroin or methamphetamine, involve the sale or delivery of cocaine, involve any kind of hate crime, or involve the use of a motor vehicle. If you meet all of these requirements, you may have the court expunge your felony conviction and automatically get your gun rights restored.
Applying for Restoration of Gun Rights
If you do not qualify for an expungement, do not count yourself out just yet. You may still be able to get your gun rights restored by filing a petition to get your gun rights restored. While this does not open as many doors as an expungement would, it satisfies the purpose of getting gun rights restored. However, gun rights would be the only right restored if your petition is granted. All other barriers and restrictions of rights would remain in place. To qualify for restoration of gun rights by a Petition of Restoration of Firearms Rights, the date of your conviction must be at least 20 years before filing, you must be a resident of North Carolina for one year before filing, only one felony is on your record, the felony on your record is a nonviolent felony, the rights of your citizenship have been restored, you have not received a conviction for any other crime since the felony conviction, and you must submit a fingerprint to the county sheriff’s office. If the court grants your petition, you will have all restrictions to purchase and operate a gun removed and your rights to do so fully restored.
Requesting a Pardon
If you do not qualify for an expungement and cannot successfully file a Petition of Restoration of Firearms Rights, you may still be able to have your gun rights restored. Though it is extremely rare, you can request the governor pardon your conviction to restore your gun rights. There is a five-year waiting period from the date of release from supervision before you are eligible to request a pardon. There are three pardons in North Carolina: Pardon of forgiveness, pardon of innocence, and unconditional pardon. Usually, in obtaining gun rights, individuals request a pardon of forgiveness or an unconditional pardon. Granting of pardons is extremely rare. Only sixteen pardons have been granted since 2001. However, if everything else falls short, this is still an option.
Lawmakers realize that committing a felon is a serious offense. However, they also recognize that we are all human, and all humans deserve a chance to be fully restored members of society if possible. By allowing convicted felons three ways to restore their gun rights, lawmakers are striving to give individuals that chance.
To get started on your gun rights restoration journey, contact King Law Offices today at 888-748-KING (5464). Our knowledgeable staff is ready to provide you with the personalized legal assistance you need. Remember, at King Law Offices, we fight for your rights and your future.