Restoring Firearm Rights to Felons
Virginia law provides a procedure wherein a convicted felon can petition the Court for restoration of civil rights.
There is no specific waiting period under the Code of Virginia of when the application can be filed, but in practice and in my previous experiences, the Court is expects such a petition to be filed after all portions of the criminal sentence have concluded, and there is a general restoration of civil rights to the applicant. Restoring civil rights, or what is commonly called voting rights, is an act taken by the governor. In Virginia typically restoration of rights is handled by petitioning the governor. However, in April 2016, the current governor announced he would be restoring voting rights to all felons via executive order issued on a monthly basis. If you are a convicted felon and were off supervised probation as of April 22, 2016, your voting rights are restored. Also, if the governor continues on his promise, any felon who comes off of voting rights during this administration will have their rights restored in the month their probation ends. If you are unsure if your voting rights are restored, you may wish to check with the Secretary of the Commonwealth at:
If you are off of probation and your voting rights have been restored, you may petition a Virginia court for restoration of your firearm rights so long as your conviction was in Virginia. Any Virginia felon (or Virginia misdemeanant with domestic violence) may petition the courts in Virginia for firearm restoration privileges. If you were convicted in another state of a felony, you must file your petition to restore firearm rights in that state. If you are a federal felon, meaning you were convicted in a federal court, there is currently no avenue for you to restore your firearm rights. The process to restore firearm rights requires application to the ATF. However, Congress has defunded the program and has done so for many years. Until the procedure changes or until Congress funds the program, federal felons have no avenue to restore firearm rights unless they receive a presidential pardon.
In Virginia, to restore firearm rights, the petitioner must demonstrate good cause. Good cause is not simply being of good behavior. There are specific things the Court looks for as to why the petitioner needs a firearm. I have watched many people lose their petition because they cannot articulate the good cause needed. If you would like your firearm rights restored, you must understand that the process is discretionary. The Court can say no and if it says no in exercising its discretion, there is very little remedy on appeal. The process of getting firearm rights back generally requires legal precision. If you are serious about getting your firearm rights back, give me a call at 757-301-3636. I handle firearm restoration for individuals across the state. – Attorney Tim Anderson – April 27, 2016.