Gun Rights Restoration Lawyers
While North Carolina is generally a more gun-friendly state, there are several federal and state laws that may impact your right to possess firearms. North Carolina citizens lose their right to gun ownership after being convicted of a felony offense or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or a person subjected to a domestic violence protective order. Unlike various civil rights such as the right to vote which get restored automatically after serving time, the right to bear arms does not. Instead, there are several processes for restoring your gun rights that you can pursue. These processes can get complicated, and you may or may not be eligible depending on your case, which is why you should hire an experienced civil rights lawyer to do the job. The lawyers at Tarlton Polk have helped numerous clients restore their second amendment rights, and can quickly identify the best avenue to restore your freedom.
Who Qualifies for Restoration of Firearms Rights?
Before looking at the different ways gun rights can be restored, you should understand where the government draws the line for eligibility entirely.
A person qualifies for restoration if they have:
- Been a resident of North Carolina for one year or longer,
- A single, non-violent felony conviction, or multiple non-violent felony convictions only if they were from the same event and were consolidated for sentencing.
- No misdemeanors involving violence nor certain misdemeanors involving weapons.
- Restored citizenship rights for at least 20 years before filing for the petition, or expunged your felony conviction.
- Submits to a criminal background check in the county in which they reside.
Reasons Gun Rights Cannot be Restored
To frame it another way, you may not be eligible for gun rights if:
- The conviction is a federal offense
- The conviction occurred in another state, without proof of restoration of the right to possess firearms in that state.
- The offense was violent in nature
- You are under indictment for a felony conviction
- You are currently a fugitive from justice
- You were dishonorably discharged from the U.S armed services
- You intentionally provided false information in a previous petition for gun rights restoration.
Of course. the laws can and have changed over the years, sometimes opening up new opportunities to restore rights while closing others. As gun rights restoration lawyers, we always stay up to date on new and emerging laws so that we can best inform and represent our clients.
Ways to Restore Firearms Rights
If you satisfy the eligibility requirements, there are two main methods for acquiring restoration:
1. Expungement, or the removal from your record, of a non-violent felony conviction that took place 15 or more years ago.
2. Petitioning Restoration after completing a 20 year wait period following your felony conviction.
While expungement seems like the faster process to be eligible for, it does have additional restrictions. Our firm handles expungements as well and will gladly help you file for it correctly if that is the best course to take.
If expungement is not possible, we could file a petition for restoration, which does not clear your record but does offer the possibility of allowing you to use firearms again. This is more complex than filling out a form, and does require scheduling a hearing where you should have a lawyer representing you.
Petitioning to Restore Gun Rights
After a petition form is filed to the court where you were convicted of the felony, even if the eligibility criteria seems to be met, you will still have a hearing before the court. The court will then determine if you satisfy all the criteria, as we previously outlined, and determine whether there are any other reasons to disqualify you from having your rights restored.
The important thing to understand here is that as the petitioner, the burden of proof is on you to establish that you meet the criteria and are qualified to have your rights restored. This is why you should hire an experienced lawyer to help you through both the filing process and represent you in the hearing, because they will know what information to have ready to make your case as effectively as possible.
If your petition was denied, you will usually have the opportunity to petition the court again after a year, unless you were found guilty of deliberately presenting false information in your initial petition.
Other Options for Restoring Firearm Rights
While the two methods above are the most preferred approaches that have the best chances to restore your firearm rights, there is another more bold option you can take, which is filing a civil rights suit versus the State. This will only be a viable option if you can prove that your rights were removed unconstitutionally, such as through a wrongful conviction. Our firm has the experience to take on such cases if we have the evidence to support it, but we do recommend pursuing this as a final option as it is very time consuming, costly, and less likely to succeed.
While it is worth mentioning that you can have your rights restored by pardon, this is not something we can pursue as lawyers, as pardons are typically offered by governors for state crimes or the president for federal crimes, and there is no process to petition or request one.