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MyraB, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in criminal law and civil litigation from pre-trial practice to appeal.
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I would like to know how to get my gun rights restored

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I would like to know how to get my gun rights restored.  I was convicted of cocaine possession with intent to distribute in the state of Massachusetts.  Since my record remained clear since 1978, my record was sealed in January, 2013.  I have had no other felony convictions.  I now live in Virginia.  Is there any way to get my gun rights restored in Virginia?  What do I have to do to get my gun rights restored for the State of Virginia? 


It is becoming very & I must retire for the evening.  Please reply in the morning. 



Charles E Levier, Jr, 

Hello and thank you for your question.

Under Massachusetts law, sealing does not remove state firearm disabilities and your recourse now is under the Virginia procedure for restoration.


Virginia is in the process of changing to an automatic restoration of rights. Effective next Monday, July 15, 2013, all persons convicted of a non-violent felony will have their civil rights automatically restored by the Governor on an individualized basis if they are residents of Virginia, have completed their sentence and have no pending felony charges.


However, at this time drug possession with intent to distribute is considered a violent felony which would not be eligible for automatic restoration, although the Governor may also revise the list of non-violent offenses as part of the new regulations. So you will have to wait until Monday to determine if you are eligible for the automatic restoration.


The Governor's office is encouraging those who believe they might qualify for automatic restoration to wait until July 15, 2013 to apply for restoration when the new process and plan is formally announced by the Governor’s Office. Although automatic, it is not a blanket restoration and still must be granted on an individualized basis. So, there will likely be an application and procedure for confirmation of eligibility.


If it turns out that you are not eligible for automatic restoration then the waiting period is 5 years from the completion of the sentence and you would certainly qualify for that. The application package and description of the process can be found here

The Governor's office has pledged to review completed applications within 60 days.

The Governor's announcement on Monday and the new procedure for restoration will likely be explained here
Or you can remind me on Monday and I can provide that information to you.


In addition, the restoration of civil rights does not restore the right to possess a firearm, but is the first step in restoring this right. You must still petition the circuit court pursuant to Va. Code. sec. 18.2-308.2(C) after your civil rights have been restored. The statute may be found here

Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.

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