Restoration of Gun Rights for Convicted Felons

In North Carolina, if you are a convicted felon, you cannot possess a firearm. To possess a firearm as a convicted felon is a felony offense in itself (NCGS 14-415.1). In 2010, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation to create a process through which certain convicted felons could petition the courts to reinstate their firearm rights.

Under NCGS 14-415.4, a person convicted of a single, nonviolent felony whose civil rights have been restored for at least 20 years, may petition the court to reinstate their firearms rights. A petitioner must meet the following requirements:

  1. The petitioner is a resident of North Carolina and has been a resident of the State for one year or longer immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
  2. The petitioner has only one felony conviction and that conviction is for a nonviolent felony. NOTE – For the purposes of this process only, if the petitioner was convicted of multiple non-violent felonies arising out of the same event and those convictions were consolidated for one judgment, that judgment will be considered one felony conviction.
  3. The petitioner’s rights of citizenship have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes. NOTE – if the conviction was in a jurisdiction other than North Carolina, the petitioners civil rights in that jurisdiction must have been restored for a minimum of 20 years prior to the petitioner filing for relief in North Carolina. The petitioner will also have to show proof that their gun rights have been restored in that jurisdiction. However, the statute does not require the 20-year minimum in regards to the out-of-state gun rights.
  4. The petitioner has not been convicted under the laws of the United States, the laws of this State, or the laws of any other state of any misdemeanor constituting a crime of violence. NOTE – the legislature includes several misdemeanors in this that most would not consider crimes of violence. Seek the advice of an attorney to determine if you are disqualified under this subsection.
  5. The petitioner submits his or her fingerprints to the sheriff of the county in which the petitioner resides for a criminal background check.
  6. The petitioner is not otherwise disqualified.

A person is “otherwise disqualified” under the following circumstances:

  1. The petitioner is prohibited from possessing, owning or purchasing a firearm under a different provision of North Carolina law.
  2. The petitioner has been indicted for a felony or a probable cause has been found against the petitioner for a pending felony.
  3. The petitioner is a fugitive from justice.
  4. Evidence exists to show that the petitioner uses or is addicted to controlled substances. NOTE – this is open to interpretation. Consult an attorney for clarification.
  5. A current 50B or 50C order has been issued against the petitioner. NOTE – this includes emergency orders and ex-parte orders.
  6. The petitioner is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime which would prohibit the person from having his or her firearms rights restored under this section.

If a petitioner is eligible and meets the above criteria, the petitioner must file a request for restoration. Upon receipt of a petition, the clerk of court notifies the district attorney’s office and a hearing is scheduled. At the hearing, both the petitioner and the district attorney may present evidence. THE BURDEN IS ON YOU TO ESTABLISH THAT YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO RECEIVE RESTORATION.

The court may restore a petitioner’s firearms rights after a hearing in court if the court determines that the petitioner meets the criteria set out in this section and is not otherwise disqualified to have that right restored. It is within the courts discretion to award restoration.

If a petition is denied due to disqualification, the petitioner will have to wait a year before refiling.

This can be a complicated and frustrating process if you don’t have a working knowledge of this law. If you want your gun rights restored, give our experienced Raleigh felony defense lawyers a call today. Let us help you get your rights back!


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