Firearm Rights, restoration of firearms after a felony conviction in NC*UPDATE: Recent changes to the NC expungement law will take effect December 1, 2017. Find out how these changes could affect your criminal charges to see if you will qualify for an expungement.*

Firearm rights are currently a hot debate in our country. Many are concerned with the types of firearms allowed and not allowed and so forth while others are concerned that due to a felony conviction they can’t own or possess a firearm.

Can Firearm Rights be Restored After a Felony Conviction?

As a Raleigh criminal defense attorney, I meet people who have been convicted of a felony and who feel that it is not fair that they can’t own or possess a firearm, which always leads to the question, “Is there anything that can be done to allow me to own or possess a firearm?”

Until recently, my answer would always be, “No, there isn’t anything that can be done.” However, as of late, our expungement statutes have changed, which have allowed some people who have been convicted felonies, which fall in certain categories, to be expunged from their records.

This is one way for convicted felons to be able to possess and own a firearm again. This is also the “cleanest” way to ensure that someone one previously convicted of a felony (one that falls in the categories mentioned in the expungement statutes) can once again own or possess a firearm. A less “clean” option to try and have your firearm rights restored is to petition the court for restoration of their firearm rights.

The difference between an expungement and an order to restore firearm rights is that the expungement, which is allowed if someone meets all of the criteria, wipes the felony conviction off of the person’s criminal history; whereas, the order does no such thing. An order granting restoration overrides the statute which bans a person convicted of a felony from purchasing, possessing, or having any firearm.

The restoration also removes the felony conviction bar on eligibility for a handgun permit and for a concealed handgun permit.

Who Qualifies for this Potential Restoration of Firearm Rights?

A person with:

  • a single, nonviolent felony conviction, including multiple nonviolent felony convictions arising out of the same event and consolidated for sentencing
  • who has had their restoration of citizenship rights for at least 20 years before filing of the petition
  • has no other felony convictions
  • no misdemeanors involving violence and/or certain misdemeanors involving weapons,
  • has been a resident of North Carolina for one year or longer
  • has submitted his or her fingerprints to the sheriff of the county in which they reside for a criminal background check.

If you meet the criteria above, then you can petition the court for restoration, however, it is not automatic restoration. There will be a hearing, where the burden is on the petitioner to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that they are qualified to receive the restoration and a district attorney may present evidence in opposition to the petitioner’s request.

While this petition to restore firearm rights is not automatic relief, it is an option for some people who have been convicted of a felony and do not qualify for an expungement.

It should be noted, however, that this restoration by North Carolina does not necessarily lift a federal ban, which is a separate ban and another blog for another day.

Speak with a Raleigh Lawyer about Restoring Your Firearm Rights After a Felony Conviction

If you would like to discuss your options for restoring your firearms please contact a Raleigh attorney at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. Call 919-615-2473

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Jeff is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh. He has effectively represented the citizens of Wake County and all over North Carolina since 1989.

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