What happened?: You were convicted of a felony, and you lost the right to own a firearm. Hey, it happens. No one is perfect and no one should be judged on his worst mistakes alone—everyone deserves a chance to redeem himself. Now you’ve put your nose to the grindstone, and taken the steps to get your life back on track, you’re livin’ right, and you want your guns back, maybe for hunting, or for home protection? So what next?

How do I get my Gun Rights Back in Henrico County, Virginia? Or, if you live outside Henrico County, Virginia, how do I get my gun rights back in Hanover, or Chesterfield, or Richmond, or Goochland, or Amelia, etc. etc. etc.? I’ll explain the process.

The Process: Under this Virginia Law, you have the right to petition the Court to restore your rights in the Circuit Court of the County of Henrico (or of any Virginia jurisdiction in which you reside, whether that’s Nottoway County, or Spotsylvania). If you no longer live in Virginia, but were convicted of a felony in Virginia, you can petition the Circuit Court where you were convicted.

Bear in mind, a Virginia Court cannot restore your rights for a felony conviction in a jurisdiction outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia—in other words, if you were convicted of felony drug possession in Baltimore, and now you live in Henrico County, the Henrico County Circuit Court judge cannot restore your gun rights for that Maryland conviction.

What goes in the Petition?: Generally speaking, you will tell the Court about what you were convicted of and where, and what sentence you served, and you will also tell the Court about how you have improved your life and reformed since it all went down. You’ll also inform the Court that you have had your voting rights reinstated (fyi, many folks with felonies in Virginia had their voting rights restored automatically during Terry McAuliffe’s Governorship).

What Happens After I File?: The Commonwealth’s Attorney for the jurisdiction where you petition (whether, for example, it’s Henrico County where you live, or Fluvanna County where you were convicted before serving your time and moving to Myrtle Beach) will review the petition and check your criminal history to determine what felony(ies) you were convicted of and how you’ve behaved since the incident. They may oppose the petition, or agree with it, depending on your background. You may need to have a hearing on the matter. Once the Commonwealth’s Attorney decides its position and tells the Court, the Court court “may, in its discretion and for good cause shown, grant such petition and issue a permit.”

Why Might I need a Lawyer for This?: The truth is, you can try to do this on your own. Some people might even have success going pro se in these cases. But the petition, the filings that go with it, and arguing at a hearing if necessary, these are all tasks that may be best left to a lawyer with experience doing these petitions. If you want to talk to me about assisting you with this, E-mail me, Call me at (804) 250-8911 or fill out the form available here. This Blog originates with the Law Office of Thomas E. A. Bishop, an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.



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