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Virginia Gun Rights Restoration — Frequently Asked Questions

1) Am I eligible to have my gun rights restored in Virginia?

You may be eligible to have your gun rights restored if you were convicted of a felony in a Virginia circuit court.

But read more about federal felony convictions and misdemeanor domestic violence convictions.

2) Do I need to have my civil / political rights restored before I can get my gun rights restored?

Yes, but there is no need to wait to start the process for getting your gun rights restored. In this context, civil rights include the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to hold public office.

Currently, it is very easy to have your civil rights restored by the Governor of Virginia. We can discuss that process during the initial consultation.

In the past, civil rights restorations were more complicated and took several months to complete. These days, it is usually accomplished in less than two weeks.

3) Can I get my gun rights restored if I have a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence (e.g, assault and battery on a household member or family member)?

Bad news. If you were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, you lost your gun rights under federal law. Currently, there is no viable remedy to have your gun rights restored for this disability.

If you were convicted of domestic violence in another state and the conviction was expunged or set aside, call the office. You may still have some options.

If your charge was dismissed after a deferred finding or finding under advisement (e.g., first offender), call the office. As long as the charge was ultimately dismissed, you might be eligible.

4) What if I have a felony conviction in federal court?

Bad news. If you were convicted of a felony in federal court, your gun rights were revoked under federal law. Currently, there is no viable remedy to have your gun rights restored for this disability.

5) What if I was convicted of a violent felony? Someone said you cannot get your gun rights restored after a violent felony?

This is a common misconception. This misconception is so common I have even seen other attorneys who believe it.

Yes, it is possible to get your gun rights back after a conviction for a violent felony. You do not lose your gun rights forever after a violent felony.

Obviously, the nature of the charge is one of the many details that factor into the case. But it is absolutely possible to restore your gun rights after a violent felony.

6) What if I live outside of Virginia?

No problem. Many of my clients live outside of Virginia. Everything can be done by phone, email, and fax (yes, sometimes we still use fax). We can plan around your work and travel schedules. Quite simply, living outside of Virginia is not a problem.

To be clear, if you were convicted of a felony in Virginia, you must have your gun rights restored by Virginia. Until you have your gun rights restored by Virginia, you are prohibited under federal law from possessing or purchasing a firearm.

7) What if I was convicted of a felony in another state?

You must have your gun rights restored in the state that convicted you.

If you have a felony in Virginia and another state, you must have your gun rights restored in both states.

8) I do not live in Virginia, but I was previously convicted of a felony in Virginia. Will a Virginia gun rights restoration be honored by my home state?

It depends. Some states honor Virginia gun rights restorations without any problem. Some states may not honor a Virginia gun rights restoration. Some states may require you to go through other steps or another process to restore your gun rights in your home state.

During the initial consultation, we will discuss the different ways a gun rights restoration might be handled in your home state.

9) What should I look out for when considering a gun rights attorney?

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of gun rights restoration cases. As a result, I have noticed an increasing number of attorneys who, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, “handle gun rights cases.” While I am encouraged by the increase in gun rights restorations, I am troubled by attorneys who do not fully understand the ins-and-outs of firearm laws. Many times, these attorneys do not even understand the mistakes they are making. It is most unfortunate.

Consider the following when choosing your attorney:

Reviews. Reviews. Reviews.

Like almost any other profession, satisfied clients leave positive reviews. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have a multitude of positive reviews from prior clients on AVVO, Google, and Facebook.

Is the attorney passionate about gun rights? Does it sound like they are familiar with firearms and the modern gun rights movement?

For example, if an attorney uses the word “clip” instead of “magazine,” I doubt they are very familiar with firearms. If they do not know the difference between an FFL transfer and a private transfer, I would be very concerned about their understanding of firearm laws in general. If the NRA is the only gun rights organization they are aware of, I would question their familiarity with the modern gun rights movement. They might be a decent attorney, but it should give you an idea about whether they are truly passionate about gun rights.

The big, bright red flags:

  • Guarantees: If an attorney gives you a guarantee, he or she is lying to you. Their confidence in your case may be 99% or higher, but they cannot give you a guarantee. In addition to the dishonesty, they are violating the rules of professional responsibility that govern attorney conduct and ethics
  • Partial Restorations: This one is huge. If an attorney suggests that you might be able to get “some” of your gun rights restored, but not all of them, run—do not walk—run away! If an attorney suggests that it might be best to restore your rights to possess a rifle and shotgun (but not handguns), that attorney is a fool. Quite simply, they are wrong. They are incompetent to handle gun rights restoration cases. They should know better. You must find a different attorney. A partial restoration is a worthless piece of paper.
  • Convictions from other states: If an attorney suggests that a Virginia court can restore gun rights after a felony conviction in another state, that attorney is completely and utterly wrong. Virginia courts can only restore gun rights for Virginia convictions.
  • Confusing CHP reciprocity with honoring restoration orders: State-to-state reciprocity for concealed handgun permits is a commonly understood topic for most people. Reciprocity is completely different from the question of whether a state will honor a gun rights restoration from another state. If an attorney confuses the two, you should be very concerned.

10) What if I have a “bad” case? Is it even worth calling?

It is absolutely worth calling. I am always surprised by someone who thinks their case is “bad,” when, in fact, they are the ideal candidate to have their gun rights restored.

Quite simply, most people have no way to know whether their case is a “good case” or a “bad case.” Call the office. We will discuss all of the details during the initial consultation. I will give you my assessment of your case, and we can discuss the options that might be available.

11) What if I am not a good candidate to have my gun rights restored?

Not every person is in a good position to have his or her gun rights restored. If you are not in a good position, I will tell you! I advise people on a regular basis that they need to wait longer before they consider filing their petition.

For example, if you have had a felony conviction in the last two to three years, I will almost certainly tell you that it is too soon for you to file your petition. If you have had a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana or DUI in the last year, I will tell you to wait longer.

We will review all the details of your situation during the initial consultation. I will tell you whether you should move forward now or later.

12) This all sounds too good to be true. Is there actually a chance I can get my gun rights back?

Absolutely! I get calls all the time from people who find it hard to believe that they might actually be able to get their gun rights restored. Rest assured, it is very much a possibility.

Read my client reviews for several examples of people who now have their gun rights restored because they took that first step and called the office!

13) What are my chances of having my gun rights restored?

Let’s be straightforward about this: there are no guarantees. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you.

That being said, there are several factors that go into the success or failure of a petition to restore gun rights. For example:

  • the nature of the original felony charges
  • how old the felony charges are
  • the individual's other criminal history
  • the individual’s personal history, including employment and family history
  • the individual’s character and reputation
  • the city / county the petition will be filed in
  • the judge who hears the case, etc.

During the initial consultation, we will discuss all of the details for your situation. At the end of that conversation, I will give you my assessment and answer any other questions that you have.

14) How long is the gun rights restoration process in Virginia?

From the very beginning to the very end, Virginia gun rights restoration usually takes between two to four months.

For most cases, as long as everyone is doing what they are supposed to do (including you, the client), we can probably get in front of a judge for the hearing within two or three months.

To be clear, my clients and I put in the necessary preparation at the beginning of each case. And I put in the necessary time to properly draft and prepare the petition.

If these cases were about speed, I could probably have most cases in front of a judge in less than a month. That is not how I handle these cases. Gun rights cases are too important.

If you want fast, go to McDonald’s. If you want quality representation from an attorney who is passionate about gun rights issues, call the office.

15) Will I have to go to court for the hearing?

It is very likely that you will need to appear in court for the hearing, but that is not a big deal!

First, we will schedule the hearing so that it works for your schedule. We will not interrupt your family vacation or your important business meeting. For my out-of-state clients, I always make sure that the hearing is scheduled well in advance so that you can arrange for travel.

Second, during the hearing prep appointment, you and I will discuss everything that you need to know before we get to court. There will not be any surprises. You will know exactly what to expect. My clients go into court well prepared and confident.

On rare occasions, it may be possible to resolve a case without appearing in court. If that is an option, we will certainly take it. To be clear, this is rare.

16) What happens after the hearing?

After the hearing, your job is done. You get to go to the range to shoot a gun for the first time since your felony conviction.

My job is not yet done.

After a gun rights petition is granted, I follow-up with the Virginia State Police to ensure that the appropriate records are updated with the restoration order. You will receive copies of this information.

Also, I will give you lengthy instructions on various issues that you might encounter (e.g., buying a gun from a gun store; carrying a gun on a daily basis; applying for a CHP; carrying a gun in other states; buying / selling a gun in a private transfer, etc.). After we discuss all of this information, I will follow-up with a written email so that you can refer to these instructions as needed.

17) If I get my gun rights restored, will I be able to buy a gun from a gun store?

Yes. I will give you detailed instructions on how to buy a firearm from a FFL.*

* This answer is for Virginia residents only. Out-of-state clients must also check their home state’s laws. Call the office for more information.

18) If I get my gun rights restored, will I be able to apply for a concealed handgun permit?

Yes. I will give you detailed instructions on how to apply for your CHP in Virginia and how to be careful when you carry a handgun.*

* This answer is for Virginia residents only. Out-of-state clients must check their home state’s laws. Call the office for more information.

19) If I get my gun rights restored, will I be able to go hunting?

Yes, but you must send me pictures from the first hunting trip! I love hunting photos!*

*This answer is for Virginia residents only. Out-of-state clients must also check their home state’s laws. Call the office for more information.

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