restore gun rights after felony conviction

The consequences of a felony conviction in North Carolina can follow you long after you complete your sentence. One consequence is that you could be barred from owning or carrying a firearm under the Felony Firearms Act. However, you may be able to get your firearms rights restored with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney

Expunging Your Criminal Record to Reinstate Your Gun Rights

You have three options to restore your firearms rights in North Carolina. One way to do this is to obtain an expungement of the felony conviction. You are only eligible for an expungement if the conviction was for a nonviolent felony. Some crimes that are not considered nonviolent in our state include:

  • Class A through G felonies
  • Offenses that include an assault as a crucial element of the crime
  • Offenses that require an individual to register on the Sex Offender Registry
  • Certain stalking offenses
  • Hate crimes

Under North Carolina’s Second Chance Act, you may be eligible to have one nonviolent felony conviction expunged after ten years.

Applying for Restoration of Your Firearm Rights

If you are unable to expunge a felony conviction, you may be able to file a petition requesting the restoration of your firearm rights under N.C.G.S. 14.415.4. You must have had your civil rights revoked due to your conviction for at least 20 years, and these rights cannot be reinstated until you complete the terms of your sentence. In addition, you must meet the following requirements to petition to have your firearm rights restored:

  • You must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least one year before filing your petition.
  • You must have only one nonviolent felony conviction. However, if you had multiple felony convictions that arose from the same event and were consolidated when you were sentenced, this would still count as only one conviction.
  • You cannot have been convicted of a federal or state misdemeanor offense of violence since your nonviolent felony conviction.
  • You must submit your fingerprints to a county sheriff for a criminal background check.
  • You must pay the $200 filing fee when you file your petition.

Even if you meet these requirements, you would not be eligible to have your gun rights restored if any of the following applies to you:

  • You are ineligible to own or possess a firearm under another North Carolina law.
  • You are currently charged with a felony.
  • You are a fugitive of justice.
  • You unlawfully use a controlled substance.
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the military.
  • You have a civil, no-contact order against you that is still in effect.
  • There is a protective, ex parte, or emergency order against you in North Carolina or another state that is in effect.
  • You have had an entry for prayer for judgment filed in a felony case.

If you apply to have your gun rights restored and your petition is denied, you cannot file a new petition for another year in most cases. If your gun rights are restored, and you are later convicted of another felony, your gun rights will be automatically and permanently revoked. 

Filing a Lawsuit Requesting Restoration of Your Firearm Rights

If you cannot obtain an expungement of your felony or cannot file a petition requesting restoration of your gun rights, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit to ask that you be given back your rights. The basis of your complaint would be that it is unconstitutional to prohibit you from owning or carrying a firearm. You must show that you have followed the law since your conviction, taken care of your family, and contributed to your community to prove your constitutional rights are being violated.

Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


C. Todd Browning
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer
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