When a person is convicted of a felony in Virginia, he loses his civil rights. The rights he loses include the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to serve as a juror, and the right to be a notary public.
The felon also loses his right to own, possess, and transport firearms.
If the felony conviction was for a non-violent offense, and the person is no longer under any correctional supervision, and he has paid all his fines and fees, then he is eligible for Virginia's Automatic Rights Restoration.
If all the foregoing criteria are met, and the felony conviction was in Virginia, then the process of restoring one’s civil rights is straight forward. To check on the restoration of your civil rights, simply go to https://www.restore.virginia.gov. It typically takes between one and three months to have your civil rights restored.
If you were convicted of a violent felony, then you still may be able to get your civil rights restored. However, it is a much longer process.
The Governor does not have the authority to restore your gun rights. In Virginia, if a convicted felon is caught with a firearm in his possession, then he will likely be facing a five-year prison sentence. If a person is caught with a firearm after being convicted of a federal felony, then he may be facing up to ten years in prison. If you have been convicted of a felony and you have not had your firearms rights restored, then you are really taking a huge risk by carrying a firearm.
There are a few situations where a Virginian can not have his gun rights restored through this process. If you have been convicted of a felony in a federal court or from another State, then this process will not work for you. If you have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, then this process will also not work for you.
In summary, if you meet these criteria, then you may be able to have your right to own a firearm restored by petitioning a Virginia Circuit Court:
- You were convicted of a nonviolent felony in a Virginia Circuit Court.
- You have not been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
- You have had your civil rights restored by the Governor.
- You have paid all your court fines and fees.
- You have no pending criminal actions against you.
- You have been on good behavior, with no criminal convictions for a long period.
Fortunately, in Many Cases, We Can Help You Restore Your Right to Own and Possess a Firearm in Virginia
Virginia Code section 18.2-308.2 states, in part, “Any person prohibited from possessing... a firearm... may petition the circuit court . . . for a restoration order that unconditionally authorizes possessing, transporting, or carrying a firearm... no person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to petition for such an order unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor...”
Another point, many people do not think about, when it comes to losing your right to bear arms, is that it makes it far more likely that you will be convicted of illegal possession of a firearm, where you could get five to ten years in prison.
Even if you are very careful to follow the law and not possess a firearm, imagine a scenario where you are with a group of people and one of them has a firearm in his or her possession. That firearm is “misplaced” into your possession, either on purpose or by accident. Suddenly, you are in possession of a firearm while being a convicted felon and charged with a criminal offense.
This could potentially happen when multiple people are in an automobile and one of them has a gun; or could happen when multiple people are residing in the same house or even motel. Yes, you may be able to convince a Judge that it was not your gun and you did not know it was present. But why risk it? The better strategy is to just have your gun rights restored.
The attorneys at John W. Lee, PC are ready to help you petition the Circuit Court for restoration of your right to own and possess a firearm. Owning a firearm is a fundamental, basic right found in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. After you have paid your debt to society you should be permitted this basic right to defend yourself, your family, and your home. Also, many people enjoy shooting sports like hunting and target practice. Having your gun rights restored will give you peace of mind and access to these and other recreational activities.