I believe that I have some good news for you! If you have never been convicted of any other felony, your rights to vote and possess a gun are automatically restored.
Below is the law that applies:
Both the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 and the state’s criminal code recognize a type of pardon for some convicted felons--the so-called“automatic” first-offender pardon. The second sentence of Article 4, Section 5(E)(1) of the constitution states that a “first offender convicted of a non-violent crime, or convicted of aggravated battery, second degree battery, aggravated assault, mingling harmful substances, aggravated criminal damage to property, purse snatching, extortion or illegal use of weapons or dangerous instrumentalities never previously convicted of a felony shall be pardoned states that “a first offender never previously convicted of a felony shall be pardoned automatically upon completion of his sentence without a recommendation of the Board of Pardons and without action by the governor.”
In this instance, “first offender” is defined in 15:572 (c) as meaning anyone convicted in Louisiana of a felony, “but never previously convicted of a felony within this state or convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States or of any foreign government or country of a crime which, if committed in this state, would have been a felony, regardless of any previous conviction for any misdemeanors.” This type of pardon has been recognized by Louisiana courts as restoring the basic rights of citizenship discussed in Art. 1, Sec. 20 of the state constitution. These include the right to vote, the right to work, the right to hold public office, and the right to possess firearms (subject, of course, to 14:95.1 restrictions).
However, the “automatic” type of pardon does not restore the status of innocence conferred by a gubernatorial pardon. State v. Adams, 355 So. 2d 917, n3 922 (1978).
At its most basic level, this type of pardon appears to be almost administrative in function. La. R.S. 15:572(D) states that, upon the day an individual completes his sentence, “the Division of Probation and Parole of the Department of Corrections, after satisfying itself that (1) the individual is a first offender as defined herein and (2) the individual has completed his sentence shall issue a certificate recognizing and proclaiming that the petitioner is fully pardoned for the offense and that he has all the rights of citizenship and franchise, and shall transmit a copy of the certificate to the individual and to the clerk of court in and for the parish where the conviction occurred.”
There are several considerations that go along with this type of pardon. Besides restoring just the rights (and not the privileges) of citizenship, it is also a one-time-only affair. La. R.S.15:572(D). In addition, this type of pardon does not wipe the slate clean, as would a gubernatorial pardon; the status of “innocence,” thus, is not restored.
State v. Adams, 355 So.2d 917, n3 922(1978). In the event of a future conviction, a person pardoned under Art. 1, Sec. 20 of the Constitution, as well as under La. R.S. 15:572(B), could have the previously pardoned conviction considered adjudicating the person as a multiple offender.Other 14:95:1 remedies:
Paragraph C of La. R.S.14:95.1 provides two other possibilities under which a person convicted of a14:95.1 felony may regain their right to possess a firearm.
1. 10-year cleansing: Under La. R.S. 14:95.1(C)(1), the provisions of this statute regarding the possession of firearms and the carrying concealed weapons by persons convicted of certain enumerated felonies do not apply to a person who has not been convicted of any felony “for a period of 10 years from the date of completion of sentence, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.”
Thus, if a person allows 10 felony-free years to elapse after the completion of their
state or federal supervision, then, according to the language of 14:95.1, they should regain the right to possess a firearm.
2. Sheriffs permits:
A second option available under 14:95.1(C) revolves around the discretion of the sheriff of the parish in which the person resides.Under 14:95.1(C)(2), upon completion of their state or federal supervision, a convict on has the right to apply to the sheriff of his home parish (or the superintendent of police, if he resides in Orleans Parish) for the right to possess firearms.
If this permit is granted, the felon has the right to possess firearms within boundaries set by that sheriff (such as only allowing the convicted felon to carry a long gun
during deer season, for example). The sheriff or other chief law enforcement officer
of a parish substantial discretion under this statute, allowing him to narrowly define
the circumstances, if any, under which a convicted felon may possess a firearm
within that parish. State law does require any sheriff or superintendent of police who decides to issue such a permit to notify, in writing, the Department of Public Safety. Officials within the Department of Public Safety say that the ability to carry a firearm under this subsection of the law is restricted to just the convicted felon’s home
Also, should the existence of such a permit ever come into question, the burden of proof may very well fall on the shoulders of the convicted felon claiming to possess
it. State v. Augillard, 371 So.2d 798, 800 (La. 3-2-1979)
You may wish to go back to the court in which you were convicted to make sure that the Certificate was filed, and you may wish to request a copy of the Certificate.
I hope that you find this information useful.
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