By Rebecca Wade

Many Americans value and take pride in their Second Amendment rights. So it’s not surprising that many individuals who lose their gun rights due to a past conviction want to get them restored. On this week’s FAQ Friday, criminal defense attorney Rebecca Wade weighs in on how to restore your Second Amendment rights.

Restoring Your Civil Rights

Wade says the first step is to restore your civil rights. That includes your right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury. In order to restore your civil rights, you must file an application with the Governor’s office. Once that application is approved, you can then file a petition for restoration of gun rights with your local Circuit Court. The Circuit Court then has the discretion to either restore your gun rights or deny the petition.

The Circuit Court’s decision is fact specific, based on the conviction for which the gun rights were lost as well as your track record after the conviction. “The most important thing to show, is that you are not a danger to the public,” says Wade.

What will impact the Circuit Court’s decision to restore my Second Amendment rights?

The likelihood that your gun rights will be restored depends largely on the nature of the underlying conviction and your track record since the charge. Let’s say you were convicted of a nonviolent crime 10-20 years ago, have not had any run-ins with the law since, and are currently an employed, law-abiding citizen. Your chances of having your gun rights restored are high. However, if the initial crime you were convicted of involved a firearm, it will be much harder to get your gun rights restored — even if you’ve had an excellent track record after the fact.

Wade says it’s crucial to present the human side of your story to the court. Whether you own a firearm or service weapon that’s a family heirloom, or if hunting is a big family tradition, it’s important for the court to know why you’re filing the petition.

“When I present these cases, I like to present the picture of my client, where they were when they got the offense, what the offense involved, and what he or she has done since then,” Wade explains. “And really give the judge an idea of why they want their gun rights restored and let them know that this is not someone who’s going to be a danger. You have to look at the facts and circumstances in their totality and present the right picture to the court in order to get these cases approved.”

About the Author

This is a photo of Rebecca Wade. She is a family law and criminal defense attorney at Old Town Lawyers.

Rebecca Janet Wade

Rebecca Wade is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law and criminal law having experience with protective orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, child protective services investigations, juvenile delinquency, and criminal charges.

Wade has been named a 2023 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, a 2023 Super Lawyer in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020-2021 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.

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