This article will help you discover:
- How a person who has been convicted of a felony can reclaim their firearm rights.
- What potential penalties you may face if you’re convicted of a firearm felony in Virginia.
- Why you should use caution with social media posts if you have a felony on your record.
Can Someone Convicted Of A Felony Own Or Possess A Gun Under Any Circumstances In Virginia?
Generally, someone with a felony on their record cannot own or possess a gun. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, then you should not be in possession of a firearm. There may be exceptions if you have been convicted of a felony and you’ve had your rights restored, but even having your rights restored doesn’t give you the ability to possess a firearm.
A key additional step needs to be taken: filing a petition to restore your firearm rights. If you’ve been convicted of a felony and have had your civil rights restored, once your petition to restore your firearm rights has been approved, then you can possess a firearm.
What Does The Commonwealth Of Virginia Need To Prove In A Case Of Possession Of A Firearm By A Convicted Felon?
In a firearm felony case, the commonwealth has to prove that the person they’ve charged with firearm possession is a felon. Of course, this is relatively easy, prosecutors only have to obtain a certified copy of a conviction where that person was convicted of a felony. Then, they have to show that the firearm in this person’s possession is designed to propel or expel a projectile. (That firearm cannot be a BB gun, an air pistol, or a starter pistol.)
In many of these cases, it can be proven that the person is a felon and the gun is a firearm according to the statutes. However, the real issue often comes down to whether or not that person was in possession of the firearm.
Possession refers to having a firearm on your person, in your pocket, or in your hands. It could also be constructive possession, which is when a person has dominion of control. For this to apply, there must be enough facts and circumstances to show that the person is connected to the firearm, which often poses the most significant issue in firearm felony cases.
What Are The Potential Penalties For Possession Of A Firearm By A Convicted Felon In Virginia?
The penalties for a firearm felony charge are determined based on whether the person convicted is a non-violent felon or a violent felon…
If you are categorized as a non-violent felon, the penalty for a felon in possession of a firearm is a mandatory two years. However, if you were found to be in possession of another gun at a different date and time, then you would be facing five years on the second gun charge, even though the original felony was non-violent. Alternatively, a firearm felony charge for a violent felon is a mandatory five-year penalty.
It’s important to note that in other cases, if you were convicted of another charge and received two or five years, you might do 85% of that time. In these cases, the term “mandatory” means that you’re required to do the entirety of the sentence.
Are There Any Defenses For Felon Firearm Possession Charges In Virginia?
Having charges filed against you can be frightening and alarming, especially when you already have a felony on your record. If you’re facing firearm felony possession charges, you should speak with your lawyer about possible defenses for your case.
One common defense tactic against felon firearm possession charges is disproving that the person has a connection to a firearm. Our goal would be to show that you were not in possession of the firearm and ensure that the commonwealth cannot connect the gun to you.
Of course, this depends on the particular circumstances. For example, let’s say a police officer finds a gun during a traffic stop and there are multiple people in the car. How do they connect that gun to a particular person in the car?
In another scenario, perhaps the police have reason to search inside a house or hotel room and they find a firearm in a drawer underneath some clothes. How does that gun get connected to one of the people in the house when there are different people’s things in the room? They may try to make this gun a particular person’s, and so the possession of that firearm becomes the key point.
There is also the matter of determining whether the gun is legally categorized as a firearm. For example, some prosecutors have tried to become more aggressive by charging people who appear in social media pictures showing them holding what is believed to be a firearm.
So, if you have a felony on your record, you should be careful about social media posts and potential firearm felony charges. Our firm has handled a few of those cases, and we have been able to get those charges dismissed – but every case is different and there is no guarantee.
For more information on the Possession Of A Firearm By A Felon In Virginia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (804) 621-0854 today.