Restore your Firearm Rights after a Non-Violent Felony Conviction

If you were convicted of a nonviolent felony in North Carolina (or in another jurisdiction) we can petition the courts to restore your North Carolina firearm rights.  In order to get your firearm rights back you need to meet specific statutory criteria.  A lawyer at our office will explain the process during your free initial consultation.

An order granting restoration overrides G.S. 14-415.1, which otherwise bans a person convicted of a felony from purchasing, owning, possessing, or having any firearm or weapon of mass death and destruction as defined in G.S. 14-288.8(c) Restoration also removes the felony conviction bar on eligibility for a handgun permit and for a concealed handgun permit.  Restoration does not constitute an expungement or a pardon.

North Carolina’s restoration process for prior felony convictions does not cover misdemeanor convictions. A person with a prior conviction for a misdemeanor crime of violence would need to obtain an expungement of the conviction; an appropriate pardon; or other relief, such as an order granting a motion for appropriate relief.

Link to the Statute: G.S. 14-415.4

Non-Violent Crimes Subject to a Restoration of Firearm Rights

  • Conviction of a “nonviolent felony,” including multiple nonviolent felony convictions arising out of the same event and consolidated for sentencing.
  • You are not eligible if you were convicted of a Class A through B2 felony or any lesser “violent” felony charges as defined by statute.

Main Restrictions on a Restoration of Your Firearm Rights

  • No other felony convictions
  • No misdemeanor conviction of type described in G.S. 14-415.4(e)(6) since conviction of nonviolent felony
  • None of the other disqualifying matters in G.S. 14-415.4(e) apply
  • Residence in North Carolina for at least one year immediately before filing of petition
  • Restoration of citizenship rights for at least 20 years before filing of petition for those convicted in another jurisdiction.  YOU MUST HAVE HAD YOUR CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS FOR 20 YEARS IN ORDER TO GET YOUR GUN RIGHTS FOR NORTH CAROLINA.

Certificates of Relief

The certificate-of-relief procedure allows people who have been convicted of a crime to apply for relief from the collateral consequences that could impede their reintegration into society.

You can obtain a certificate if you have been convicted of no more than two Class G, H, or I felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions of any class in one session of court. This language allows a certificate to be obtained for up to two convictions for any combination of the permissible convictions.

If granted, a certificate of relief applies to two types of collateral consequences: Collateral Sanctions (penalties, disabilities, or disqualifications imposed by operation of law); and Disqualifications (defined as penalties that an agency, official, or court may impose based on the conviction).  In other words, collateral sanctions are those that are mandatory in the absence of a certificate of relief, while disqualifications are those that a board or commission would have the discretion to impose.

A certificate of relief relieves the person of all mandatory collateral sanctions except those listed in G.S. 15A-173.3; those imposed by the North Carolina Constitution or federal law; and those specifically excluded in the certificate

A certificate of relief does not bar an entity from imposing discretionary disqualifications based on the conviction, but the entity may consider the certificate favorably in deciding whether to impose the disqualification. A certificate of relief does not result in an expungement or pardon of the conviction.

A certificate of relief also has the effect of limiting the liability of a person who works with someone who received a certificate of relief. G.S. 15A-173.5 provides that a certificate of relief bars a judicial or administrative action alleging lack of due care by a person who, knowing of the certificate of relief, hired, retained, licensed, leased to, admitted to a school or program, or otherwise transacted business or engaged in activity with the recipient of the certificate.

Link to statute: G.S. 15A-173.2

Crimes Subject to a Certificate of Relief

  • Any combination of two or fewer Class G, H, or I felony or misdemeanor convictions in one session of court.

Restrictions for a Certificate of Relief

  • No other convictions for a felony or misdemeanor (other than for a traffic violation).
  • Person is not in violation of any criminal sentence.
  • No pending criminal charges.
  • Person is engaged in or seeking a lawful occupation or activity or otherwise has a lawful source of support.
  • Petition may not be filed until 12 months after completion of the sentence.
  • Granting of petition would not pose an “unreasonable risk.”


Citizenship Rights

Conviction of a felony bars a person from exercising various “citizenship” rights, such as the right to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury.  These citizenship rights are usually automatically restored in North Carolina when a person completes his or her criminal sentence.  Those who are convicted of a felony in another state may be able to get those rights back in North Carolina.

If a person has been convicted in North Carolina of a felony, the agency, department, or court that has jurisdiction must issue a certificate or order evidencing the restoration of the person’s citizenship rights once the person has completed his or her sentence.

If a person has been convicted of a felony in another state (or in federal court) and has completed his or her sentence, the person may apply to the clerk of court in the North Carolina County where the person lives for a certificate evidencing the restoration of his or her citizenship rights.  The clerk must issue the certificate if the person has completed his or her sentence.  An unconditional pardon or satisfaction of all conditions of a conditional pardon also restores a person’s citizenship rights, but neither type of pardon is necessary to restoration of citizenship rights in North Carolina because restoration is automatic on a person’s completion of his or her sentence.

Completion of a felony sentence and restoration of citizenship rights does not automatically restore other rights lost or collateral consequences imposed as a result of a criminal conviction, such as the loss of firearm rights.

Link to statute: G.S. 13-1

Restoration of Citizenship Rights

Principal Restrictions on Restoration of Citizenship Right

  • Completion of criminal sentence, including any period of incarceration, probation, or post-release supervision following incarceration.
Contact us for more info »