Possession of a Firearm by a Felon in Virginia
A conviction of any crime for which the maximum penalty is greater than one year precludes a person from possessing a firearm in Virginia, and that distinction is important because there are certain states where a misdemeanor can carry more than one-year incarceration. That is not true in Virginia. In Virginia, the maximum penalty for any misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and if one has a conviction for a misdemeanor in Virginia, they are allowed to possess a firearm.
The exception for that, however, is if a person has a conviction for a crime of domestic violence. Even if it is a misdemeanor, that person is prohibited by federal law to possess a firearm so if a person has any conviction for which they can be punished by more than one year in jail or any misdemeanor conviction for domestic assault then that person is not allowed to possess a firearm.
If you have been charged with possessing a firearm then you should consider contacting a Virginia firearm attorney. By calling a Virginia firearm lawyer, you can increase your chances of having the desired outcome that you are looking for.
The potential penalties for possession of a firearm by a felon in Virginia will depend on the exact nature of the circumstances that led the person to be prohibited. If the person has, for example, a violent felony on their history then the penalties are higher than they would be if it is a non-violent felony but, under all circumstances, a person who is convicted of a felony and who is in possession of a firearm is guilty of, at the very least, a Class 6 felony. The enhancement that would be created if a person has a violent felony within the last 10 years carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence on top of anything else that they might be convicted of.
Possession and transportation are essentially treated the same under Virginia law so possession and transportation are both listed under the same statute and the penalties are the same.
Felons and Firearms
There is a process by which a person can have their rights to possess a firearm restored, and the process can be somewhat lengthy because it is a two-part process. The first step is they must have the governor’s office in Virginia restore their civil liberties. Civil liberties that are forfeited upon conviction of a felony include the right to vote, the right to serve in a jury, et cetera. They must have their civil rights restored by the governor’s office first.
The governor, however, lacks the authority to restore firearm rights. That must be done by a court of law. If a person has their civil rights restored, they must contact a Virginia attorney in the jurisdiction in which they lives to file a petition in the circuit court of that jurisdiction asking that gun rights be restored. Under that scenario, a convicted felon can possess a firearm but they must have gone through that process first.
Mandatory minimum sentencing depends entirely upon why it is that an individual is precluded from possessing a firearm. Any person who violates the law by knowing and intentionally possessing or transporting a firearm in Virginia who is previously convicted of a violent felony, it is a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years. If a person does not have a violent felony that is precluding them for possessing a firearm then there is no mandatory minimum and it is a conviction of a Class 6 felony.