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This is the last article of a three-part series that provides a general overview of the process of gun rights… Read More
********UPDATE AS OF NOVEMBER 29, 2016**********   (This update should have been submitted in September of 2016.) Civil rights restorations are… Read More
***Check out the new Frequently Asked Questions page for gun rights restorations.*** A felony conviction is a life-changing event. Among… Read More

Gun Rights Restoration After a Felony in Virginia, Part I: Restoration of Civil Rights

********UPDATE AS OF NOVEMBER 29, 2016**********  

(This update should have been submitted in September of 2016.)

Civil rights restorations are now very straightforward. Visit the website for Civil Rights Restoration to determine your status.  

If you were waiting on your civil rights to be restored, you should contact the office immediately.   There is a good chance that you are currently eligible to file a petition to restore your gun rights. Feel free to call the office at (757) 333-7529. Alternatively, feel free to use the Contact Page to submit an inquiry through this website. 

If you wish to continue reading about the restoration process, you should go directly to Part II: Petition the Circuit Court. 

********UPDATE AS OF APRIL 22, 2016**********  

The process for restoring civil rights dramatically changed on April 22, 2016.  The Governor of Virginia issued an executive order restoring civil rights for every person convicted of a felony in Virginia that has 1) completed their sentence (i.e., served their time in jail or prison), and 2) completed any supervised release (i.e., supervised probation or parole).  

According to the Governor's office, they will re-issue a new executive order each month, which will restore the civil rights for individuals who meet the new criteria after the last executive order.   

It is no longer necessary to apply to the Secretary of the Commonwealth to have your civil rights restored.  

If you were waiting on your civil rights to be restored, you should contact the office immediately.   There is a good chance that you are currently eligible to file a petition to restore your gun rights. Feel free to call the office at (757) 333-7529. Alternatively, feel free to use the Contact Page to submit an inquiry through this website. 

If you wish to continue reading about the restoration process, you should go directly to Part II: Petition the Circuit Court. 

ORIGINAL POST SUBMITTED ON JULY 13, 2015: 

A felony conviction is a life-changing event. Among the many consequences of a felony conviction is that the individual automatically loses their right to possess a firearm. The specific facts of the case have no impact on the loss of the individual’s gun rights. They could have been convicted the day after they turned 18 years old. The felony could have been a simple shoplifting charge where the value of the property was $201. (The difference between misdemeanor shoplifting and felony shoplifting in Virginia is $200.) The person could have been convicted more than 30 years ago, and they could have led an exemplary and productive life ever since. 

None of that matters. No matter the offense, no matter the circumstances, as soon as someone is convicted of a felony, they lose their gun rights. Fortunately, Virginia law provides a mechanism for convicted felons to have their gun rights restored.

This article is Part I of a three-part series that provides a general overview of the process of gun rights restoration in Virginia.

Part I discusses the restoration of civil rights by the Governor of Virginia.

Part II will discuss the petition to restore gun rights that is filed in circuit court.

Part III will discuss a few special circumstances and how Virginia law applies. 

Generally, gun rights after a felony conviction are governed by Virginia Code §18.2-308.2. That statute contains the general prohibition against possession of firearms after a felony conviction. Section C of that statute also sets forth the process to have gun rights restored. 

The first step in the process is to apply to the Governor of Virginia for the restoration of civil rights. If the Governor grants the application to restore civil rights, the restoration will include the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to hold public office, and the right to serve as a notary public.  

Which process applies?

There are two separate processes depending on the nature of the prior felony conviction. I use the terms “serious felonies” and “non-violent felonies.”

  • For serious felonies, the individual must submit an application which will be reviewed by the Governor’s office. This discretionary application applies to individuals convicted of violent felonies, crimes against minors, or election law offenses. For a list of offenses that are considered violent / serious felonies, see here.
  • For non-violent felonies, the individual must submit an application online to the Governor’s office. If all of the requirements are met, the restoration should be approved automatically. 

Application for non-violent felonies:

To qualify for an automatic restoration of civil rights, certain criteria must be met:

  • The applicant must have been convicted of a non-violent felony in federal court or in a Virginia circuit court.

  • The applicant must have completed and fulfilled all obligations of incarceration, parole, probation, or good behavior. 

  • The applicant must have fulfilled any other court-ordered conditions. 

  • The applicant must not have any pending felony charges.

If these criteria are met, the applicant can complete and submit an online application available through the website for the Secretary of the Commonwealth

(As of July 2015, the Secretary of the Commonwealth is no longer requesting that the applicant submit additional documentation along with the application. Hopefully, this will expedite the process for most people.)

If all of the requirements are met, the application to restore civil rights should be approved automatically.

Application for serious felonies:

For individuals convicted of serious felonies, the criteria and application process are more complicated:

  • The applicant must have been convicted of a serious / violent felony in federal court or in a Virginia circuit court.

  • At least three years prior to the application, the applicant must have completed and fulfilled all obligations of incarceration, parole, probation, or good behavior.

  • The applicant must not have any felony convictions for at least three years prior to the application.

  • The applicant must have fulfilled all other court-ordered conditions.

  • The applicant must not have any pending felony charges.

  • The application for serious felonies cannot be submitted online. The application must be mailed to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. 

  • Unlike the process for non-violent felonies, applicants for serious felonies must include additional documents. 

    • The applicant must submit certified copies of every sentencing order from each felony conviction.

    • The applicant must also submit a letter from their most recent Probation Officer “outlining their period of suspension.”

For serious felonies, the restoration of rights is not automatic. The Governor has complete discretion to grant or deny the application to restore civil rights. If the Governor denies the application, there is no process to appeal the decision. If the application is denied, the only option is to reapply after one year.

Once an individual has had their civil rights restored by the Governor, then they can move on to petition the circuit court to restore their gun rights. Part II of this series will discuss the petition to restore gun rights that is filed in circuit court.

If you were convicted of a felony and would like to have your civil rights and gun rights restored, call the office for a free consultation. 

You have paid your debt to society. You have put your past behind you. There is no reason this should follow you around any longer.

During the consultation, we will discuss the details of your specific situation and the best course of action to have your rights restored.

The attorney’s fees for gun rights petitions are always fixed fees, and flexible payment options may be available for your case.

Remember that although the office is located in Virginia Beach, my practice extends across all of Virginia. I can handle your case whether you live in Accomack County, Roanoke, Alexandria, or Danville. (For most cases, I do not charge increased fees for travel costs. If I have to charge more because of the location of your case, I will explain the difference in pricing up front.)

Feel free to call the office at (757) 333-7529. Alternatively, feel free to use the Contact Page to submit an inquiry through this website.

After-hours and weekend appointments: Let’s face it; most people cannot take off work in the middle of the week between 9-5. If you need an appointment after normal business hours or on a weekend, I understand. The best option is to use the Contact Page to schedule a telephone appointment. Otherwise, call the office or leave a voicemail with your information: (757) 333-7529.

For More Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Posts

This is the last article of a three-part series that provides a general overview of the process of gun rights… Read More
********UPDATE AS OF NOVEMBER 29, 2016**********   (This update should have been submitted in September of 2016.) Civil rights restorations are… Read More
***Check out the new Frequently Asked Questions page for gun rights restorations.*** A felony conviction is a life-changing event. Among… Read More