One of the penalties associated with some criminal convictions is the loss of gun rights. If you lost your gun rights in Pennsylvania, you could get them restored through a pardon or expungement.
A criminal conviction can be a heavy burden on you in countless ways. Jail time and costly fines are never easy, but in most cases, those penalties are eventually resolved. However, some criminal convictions could have permanent consequences. One of those consequences is the loss of your right to possess or own a firearm.
There are steps you can take under the law to have these rights returned to you. While success is never guaranteed, many people can have their rights restored after receiving a pardon from the governor. A Montgomery gun crime lawyer from our firm can help you learn how to get gun rights restored in Pennsylvania.
Restoration of Firearm Rights in Pennsylvania Is Possible With a Pardon
It is important to remember that in most situations, a person convicted of certain criminal charges will lose their right to own a firearm under both state and federal law. That means that while this loss of rights is not always permanent based on state law, federal law will typically result in permanent prohibition.
The good news is that it could be possible to address both state and federal prohibitions in a state court action. This is possible through a pardon by the governor. A pardon could lead to the return of all your civil rights—including those related to owning a firearm.
Of course, the Governor of Pennsylvania does not have blanket authority to pardon anyone they want. Instead, the law gives the governor the ability to pardon a person convicted of a crime only following the recommendation from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.
This recommendation must be unanimous for anyone convicted of a life sentence. In all other cases, only a majority of the board must favorably recommend a pardon. Without the appropriate recommendation from the board, the governor does not have the power to act.
Understanding the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons plays an important role in determining who will get a fresh start following a criminal conviction. Understanding the makeup and purpose of this board could be useful to anyone hoping to see their conviction eventually pardoned by the governor.
The Board of Pardons is made up of five members. The group is a mix of private citizens and elected officials. The lieutenant governor serves as the chairman of the board, and the attorney general is also a member. The final three spots are reserved for private citizens who are appointed by the governor.
The governor does not have free rein to make these final three selections, however, as each seat must be held by a person with a specific background. One member must be corrections expect, the second spot is a representative of crime victims, and the third goes to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or doctor of medicine.
Applying for a Pardon to Restore Your Gun Rights
The Board of Pardons will not take up a case on their own. Instead, a person seeking a pardon must file an application with the board. There is no monetary cost for filing this application, and forms can be found online.
The application contains several questions that relate to a person’s conviction. In addition to answering questions, the application should include photos of the applicant.
While it is possible to seek a pardon on your own, doing so could put your case at risk. There are numerous factors the board must consider when evaluating your application, and any deficiency could make it unlikely for you to succeed. Our experienced attorney in Pennsylvania can help you complete and submit your application.
Expungement Is Another Option for Getting Your Gun Rights Restored in Pennsylvania
For many people, a pardon is the only option for the restoration of their gun rights. However, some individuals could see these rights restored through the expungement process. While a pardon waives the penalties and restores the civil rights of a person following a conviction, expungement is as if they were never convicted at all.
Most serious crimes on your criminal record—including the majority of those that could result in the loss of your gun rights—are not available for expungement. Often, this process is reserved for the removal of non-conviction records like arrests. The circumstances where expungement could help with your gun rights might be limited, but it may be worth speaking with a criminal defense attorney to learn more.
Cost of Getting Your Gun Rights Restored in Pennsylvania
Since a crime punishable by loss of firearms rights is often a serious criminal offense, the restoration process can be time-consuming and expensive.
It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 to seek the restoration of your firearm rights. Before beginning the process, please consider the cost that is generally associated with this type of case.
Factors That Could Affect Your Firearm Rights Restoration Claim
Restoration of firearms rights is possible, depending on the circumstances of your case. Legal representation from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could prove beneficial. Whether restoration is through expungement or an official pardon, your attorney must typically show that you can own or handle a firearm without risk to yourself or others.
Your ability to secure a pardon may depend on whether you lost your gun rights due to a misdemeanor or felony violation and if your charges involved violent crimes, such as aggravated assault or domestic violence.
An experienced firearms attorney familiar with Pennsylvania laws can help you understand the pardon process and provide legal advice regarding whether gun rights restoration is possible in your case.
Talk to a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Law Firm About the Restoration of Your Gun Rights
There are options for having your gun rights restored in Pennsylvania, but there is no guarantee your application will be accepted. It can be difficult to obtain a pardon or an expungement, especially when you are acting on your own.
If you have questions about how to get gun rights restored in Pennsylvania, our firm has answers. The team at the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. is ready to help you evaluate your options and assist you in the restoration of your civil rights. To get started, reach out as soon as possible for an initial consultation.