When Can a Convicted Felon Possess a Firearm?
Convicted felons are typically punished for their crimes by serving time in prison. In addition, after serving their time in prison, they may be forced to forfeit certain civil rights to pay for their crimes.
In the United States, people convicted of a felony can lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to bear arms. Laws prohibiting felons from possessing a firearm are intended to deter repeat offenses and to keep known criminals from committing additional crimes.
Federal law and Nevada law provide that a convicted felon is not permitted to possess any type of firearm. Significant penalties may be imposed on convicted felons found in possession of a weapon, including prison time.
However, to every rule there is an exception. As such, there are certain instances when a convicted felon can possess a firearm.
If you have been convicted of a felony and want advice on possessing a firearm, you should speak with respected criminal defense attorney Joel M. Mann. With over 15 years of experience, Joel can help you understand the process of restoring your civil rights in Nevada or defend you against unjust charges. Call our law firm now for a free consultation.
When Can a Felon Be Permitted to Possess a Firearm Under Federal Law?
Under federal law, a convicted felon is permitted to possess a firearm when:
- The conviction has been expunged.
- The conviction has been set aside.
- The conviction was pardoned.
- The felon’s civil rights were restored by the state where the felony occurred.
Can a Felon Own a Gun in Nevada?
The only way for a felon to own a gun in Nevada is to obtain a pardon. Like federal law, in Nevada, a convicted felon is not permitted to own a gun. It is also illegal for people convicted of a domestic violence crime to own a gun in Nevada.
What Is a Pardon in Nevada?
In Nevada, a convicted felon can request a pardon from the government for his or her past crimes. A pardon does not erase a criminal conviction but instead is a type of forgiveness. Nevada pardons can restore the civil rights a felon lost after he or she was convicted, including the right to bear arms.
A convicted felon has to apply for a pardon. The decision as to whether to grant a pardon lies with the Nevada Board of Pardon Commissioners. The board is made up of the governor of Nevada, the justices of the Nevada Supreme Court, and the Nevada attorney general.
There are many different factors that the Pardon Board will consider when deciding to grant a pardon. Some of these factors include:
- Sentencing – One factor that will be considered is whether the felon completed all of his or her sentence, including whether all fines were paid.
- Time – The board will make a determination as to whether enough time has passed since the felon completed his or her sentence.
- Criminal History – The felon’s complete criminal history will be taken into consideration when the felon’s application is put before the Pardon Board.
- Crime – The type of crime committed, and its severity, will be taken into consideration by the Pardon Board. Felons who committed serious crimes are less likely to receive a pardon.
- Remorse – The Pardon Board will consider whether the felon has displayed regret for his or her crimes.
- Character – The felon’s character will be closely examined, including the type of lifestyle the felon is leading and whether the felon has adjusted to living in society. Basically, the felon must prove that he or she has been rehabilitated since the felony conviction.
- Employment – A pardon may be granted if the felon is not able to find employment due to his or her crime.
The Pardon Board will typically not grant a pardon to a people whose criminal matter is on appeal, who are registered as sex offenders, who are under criminal investigation, or who have not proven that they have been rehabilitated.
Consequences of a Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charge
As you can imagine, there are consequences for a felon who is found to be in possession of a firearm.
Under Nevada law, “A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person has been convicted of a felony in this State or any other state, or of a felony in violation of the laws of the United States of America.”
The law applies to “any firearm that is loaded or unloaded and operable or inoperable.”
This means that a person who has been convicted of a felony in any state or under federal law can face criminal charges in Nevada if found to be in possession of a firearm.
A felon found guilty of being in possession of a firearm in Nevada will be charged with a felony. If found guilty, the felon will be sent to state prison for up to six years, but not less than one year, and may be fined up to $5,000.
Federal law also has consequences for a felon who is in possession of a firearm. The elements of the federal crime are:
- Possession or receipt of a firearm, or ammunition;
- By a felon, or persons awaiting trial on felony charges; and
- The firearm and/or ammunition was transported across a state line.
A conviction under this law is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. If the felon has three or more prior felony convictions, a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment without parole will be imposed.
Common Defenses to Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charges
If you are a felon who has been charged with possession of a firearm, do not just assume that you have no options. There are many defenses to this charge. These may include:
- No proof of actual possession of a weapon by the felon
- Unconstitutional search and seizure
- Police misconduct
- False accusations / evidence
- Lack of forensic evidence
Furthermore, in Nevada, the law does not prohibit any person from using a firearm or other explosive “material, component, substance or device” required for any employment related to mining, agriculture, or construction.
One of the best defenses for a felon who is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm is to establish reasonable doubt. A felon who is charged with illegal possession of a firearm should speak to a knowledgeable defense attorney as soon as possible so the lawyer can begin interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence to craft a strong defense.
Is Nevada a “Stand Your Ground” State?
Yes, Nevada is a “Stand Your Ground” State. In Nevada, a person is permitted to use deadly force in order to prevent another from taking his or her life. However, in Nevada, the defense is not available to the person who was the original aggressor. The defense is also not available if the person who acted in self-defense was engaged in criminal activity.
The “Stand Your Ground” defense will apply when:
- The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and
- The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.
If you are a felon who has been charged with possession of a firearm, either under Nevada law or federal law, you should speak to our attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and to begin to build your defense.
Joel M. Mann has been a criminal defense attorney for over 15 years. He understands the importance of conducting a thorough investigation into the charges to uncover any evidence that was overlooked by the police or the district attorney. Further, Joel is an experienced negotiator, and he will seize every opportunity to argue for the charges against you to be reduced or dropped. Finally, with years of experience on his side, Joel will effectively fight for you at trial if a plea agreement cannot be reached.
Everyone deserves a chance to start over once they have paid their debt to society. If you have been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, you need to know that you have legal rights and options. You need Nevada criminal defense attorney Joel M. Mann on your side. Call us now or contact us online to set up your free consultation, and let us start building a defense for you.