Any person who has been convicted of a felony is ineligible to possess a firearm in North Carolina under the Felony Firearms Act – G.S. 14-415.1. However, the legal right in this State of a person to purchase, own, possess, or have in the person’s custody, care, or control any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction as those terms are defined in G.S. 14-415.1 and G.S. 14-288.8(c) can be restored pursuant to G.S. 14-415. Here’s how it works:
N.C.G.S. Chapter 13
First, a person who has been convicted of a non-violent felony must have had his citizenship rights restored under G.S. Chapter 13, or under the law of the jurisdiction in which the felony was committed. A Chapter 13 restoration of citizenship rights happens automatically upon the occurrence of any one of the following conditions:
- The unconditional discharge of an inmate, of a probationer, or of a parolee by the agency of the State having jurisdiction of that person or of a defendant under a suspended sentence by the court.
- The unconditional pardon of the offender.
- The satisfaction by the offender of all conditions of a conditional pardon.
- With regard to any person convicted of a crime against the United States, the unconditional discharge of such person by the agency of the United States having jurisdiction of such person, the unconditional pardon of such person or the satisfaction by such person of a conditional pardon.
- With regard to any person convicted of a crime in another state, the unconditional discharge of such person by the agency of that state having jurisdiction of such person, the unconditional pardon of such person or the satisfaction by such person of a conditional pardon
Under this statute, any person who was convicted of a single non-violent felony may petition to have his rights restored if:
- The person has been a resident of North Carolina for at least one year prior to filing the petition.
- The person’s civil rights have been restored for a period of at least 20 years.
- The person has not been convicted of any misdemeanor crime of violence since the felony conviction.
- The person is not otherwise disqualified by law to possess a firearm.
If the person qualifies to have his firearm’s rights reasoned, he must first submit his fingerprints to the SBI for the purpose of a criminal background check. Once the fingerprints have been submitted, the person must complete form AOC-CV-654 and submit it to the Clerk of Court, along with the filing fee of $200. Be careful! Knowing and willful submission of false information on this petition is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and will result in a permanent prohibition from petitioning for restoration of rearms rights under G.S. 14-415.4. A copy of the petition is also sent to the District Attorney for the County in which the petition is filed, and they may argue against the restoration of rights.
Hearings on a petition for the restoration of firearms rights are held in District Court in the County where the petition is filed. The presiding judge may hear evidence from the person who filed the petition, and from the District Attorney. In order to restore the person’s firearms rights, the judge must find the following:
- The person been a resident of the county for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
- The person has been convicted of only one non-violent felony.
- The person’s citizenship rights have been restored under the laws of the jurisdiction of conviction for a period of at least twenty (20) years prior to the filing of the petition.
- The person has submitted his/her fingerprints for a State and national criminal history record check in support of the petition.
- The person is not disqualified for any reason listed in G.S. 14-415.4(e).
If the person has met all of these qualifications, then their firearm’s rights should be restored. However, in practice, these petitions are far more complicated and difficult than they may seem. If a person is unsuccessful in convincing the judge, they must wait for a period of one year before they can file another petition. Attorney Ronald Shook has handled many of these petitions, and has the experience necessary to help you to be successful.