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Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 05 Oct 2016 01:11:10
by rdinva
In August of 1991 I accepted a plea bargain for possession of cocaine (actually, constructive possession of cocaine residue - non-violent and no firearms attached) in Arlington County and was sentenced to three years, suspended, with three years of probation in lieu. I had seen my two co-conspirators sentenced to 3+ years of jail and was looking to avoid that outcome.

Fast forward 25 years and I am the model of rehabilitation. I have built a great career despite having to deal with the stigma of being a felon, was able to get a TS clearance, have a great family life, am a contributing member of society, etc. I applied for and was granted restoration of my civil rights in April of 2014. At the beginning of this year (2016) I started looking into restoration of firearms rights in Virginia. In August I wrote a petition and draft order, and filed a precipe in Prince William. At the hearing the Commonwealth presented no objections and the order was entered as written. I've provided a copy of the order to the VSP, and presumably at this point I could legally purchase and carry a firearm. Everything is good! Or is it?

In doing some research, it would appear that even though my federal firearms restrictions were relieved by the non-conditional restoration of rights in VA, and my rights are undeniably restored inside the Commonwealth, that I could still run afoul of the "felon in possession" statutes in various other states. Say for example that I went hunting in NC and for some reason my criminal background was run as part of a traffic stop or by a game warden, the way I read the NC statute is that anyone convicted of a felony in ANY state or Federally is a felon in possession. Many other states word their statutes similarly.

The issues is that, again using NC as an example, while there is a provision for the restoration of rights for NC citizens, including people with charges from other states, there is no provision non-residents. Virginia recently passed legislation recognizing restorations from other states but, amazingly, it appears to be in the minority in this aspect.

A call to the Maryland State Police (I have friends that shoot clays at the PG Trap and Skeet Center) netted a trooper who said "Make sure you carry a copy of your restoration and you shouldn't have any problem." Maybe I am being pedantic and really don't have anything to worry about, but not really willing to risk it as the consequences could be devastating.

I realize there are many people who subscribe to the "once a con always a con" mentality, but I have to ask, at what point is a person rehabilitated? When does the continued disenfranchisement and being forced to live with the stigma of being a felon, despite decades of reform, become a manifest injustice?

I have to disclose my record in order to coach, or volunteer at my kid's school. I'm a highly skilled IT professional, with an in demand skill set, but I've been denied lucrative career opportunities simply due to this 20+ year old albatross. I have to deal with that anguish every time I look at new career opportunities. Unfortunately the Commonwealth provides no method for the expungement of records that are the result of an admission of guilt or Alford Plea, so the answer to that may be "Forever."

Anyone have any experience or relevant knowledge? I would love some guidance from someone who has gone before me, or from anyone with specific legal knowledge.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 05 Oct 2016 07:55:41
by ShotgunBlast
Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I'm not sure what answers you'll find here because of the specific topic, but I hope you do get the answers you need.

Not to get political, but this is why some of us look at drug legalization as more than just a fringe issue or an excuse to get high. It's one issue that if it were to be fixed would help in other issues, such as this person's debacle getting their rights fully restored, abusive civil asset forfeiture practices, wasteful government spending on failed programs, overpopulation in our jails due to nonviolent drug-related convictions, exploring medical treatment options that currently cannot be explored, and last but not least the basic idea of personal liberty that you can put whatever you want into your body as long as it doesn't negatively impact another and that a victimless crime is not a crime.

I truly hope you find the answers you seek. Like you said, "at what point is a person rehabilitated?" I have experience interacting with former cons, and it is exactly as you describe as being an albatross around your neck that they deal with for the rest of their life for every important facet of their life including job opportunities, housing opportunities, and opportunities to interact with the community through volunteerism. And people wonder why we have the recidivism rates that we do; because we've branded these people as outcasts in the community.

I wish you luck in getting the answers you're looking for.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:06:25
by rdinva
Thanks for the reply. Oddly, I used to oppose legalization. However when you look at legislation like CA prop. 47 that redirects the money wasted on "rehabilitating" minor drug offenders with a prison sentence, and instead diverts that money to community based programs and interventionary measures, it starts to make sense.

I'm not sure what answers I will find either, but I am continuing to search. It's a real catch 22 wherby if I moved to another state I could probably get my rights restored in that state, but by virtue of the fact that I live in a foreign state there is no accomodation under the law. What would be a great solution is reciprocity of restored rights, like VA recently enacted recently.

I've been scouring all the laws and case hsitory that I can find, but coming up with nothing. Hopefully I'll find an avenue at some point.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 05 Oct 2016 19:26:31
by bali
It's nobody else's biz what adults put into (or take out of) their own bodies. meddling pos Hitler wannabes, anyway! Dope use is the height of stupidity, but so is booze, tobacco and being fat and lazy

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Thu, 06 Oct 2016 02:24:27
@OP: You may wish to contact Virginia Citizens Defense League, National Rifle Association, and/or Gun Owners of America. You may also want to seek advice from a qualified attorney.

This is far too important a topic to be placing trust in a bunch of guys on the Internet, that you've never met.

I wish you the best of luck in your quest, and when you have found solid answers, from reliable sources, please do share your findings with us.

For what it's worth, I've been acquainted with actual cons, and I know guys who dabbled with various drugs in their younger years. While the two groups can and do overlap, they are hardly the same type of person.

I saw a t-shirt, the other day, that made me chuckle, and this thread brings it back to mind. It said:

Good decisions come from wisdom
Wisdom comes from experience
Experience comes from bad decisions

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Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:35:38
by deejer
I will say this as someone who has had their rights restored and worried about the same thing. I've been on several hunting trips with family to different states (WV, TN, NC, GA, FL) and my lawyer instructed me to always carry a copy of my orders with me (rights restoration and firearm restoration). I also too have a valid CCW. I was told this by a judge in WV who is a family friend. He said and I forget exactly what he quoted but I do have it. Basically, a written order from a judge is valid in any state. It's basically like granting a divorce, it's recognized in any state.

I have also called the local state police headquarters in each state I've been hunting in also and you find some LEO that don't have a clue as to what the laws are to others who have stated "Carry your papers".

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:55:35
by M1A4ME
I know a guy who was charged (falsely) by his soon to be ex-wife for assaulting her.

When it went to trial she admitted the "gun he pointed at me" was in the case and he was on his way out of the house to go shooting after they'd had an argument. The prosecutor tried to talk him and his lawyer into a plea deal and he refused because he is a gun collector, shooter and hunter. The judge found him guilty of misdemeanor domestic assault/abuse (whatever the legal term is) and he lost his gun rights.

He appealed the conviction.

When it went to court for the appeal the commonwealth attorney/prosecutor again tried to get them to deal and he refused. The were in the court room, waiting on the jury to come in when the prosecutor went to the judge, the judge called his attorney and the went out the back door to talk. Charges were dropped and he was told he would be, once again, allowed to buy/own/shoot/hunt with guns.

He moved out of state to stay away from the soon to be ex-wife as she is often caught in lies about what he did/was doing. She'll even put stuff on facebook that he and his friends end up rebutting because they know he didn't do/say it to her as he has moved away. If he comes back to VA he brings someone with him as a witness to where goes and what he does.

Anyway, he tried to buy a gun back before hunting season and was denied by the VA State Police due to his misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Yeah, the same one where the charges were dropped and the records were supposed to be corrected/deleted. It seems that the ATF was consulted by the VA State Police and they still have records showing his conviction and were either never contacted by VA to delete/get rid of the records or just dropped the ball and didn't delete the records in spite of getting the notification.

So now he's spending more money with his attorney paying him to try to get the ATF to do what they are supposed to do so he can once again buy/own guns.

Just something to keep in mind. The Federal Government, in all it's controlling efforts, still affects what happens in the states.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:31:38
by deejer
Domestic Violence charges are their own set of rules when it comes to firearm restoration and such. I don't claim to be a lawyer or anything but I do know a "different set of rules" applies to anything domestic related.

To my knowledge the only way to get a firearm restoration is if you have been charged at the state level. If you have federal charges I don't think there is any means to go outside of a presidential pardon.

I have purchased long guns in multiple states since my restoration too (WV and TN). The only time I ever had an issue was a delay the first time I went to purchase a rifle. I had to end up calling the VSP and apparently once you submit the paperwork to them showing that you have received your restoration (which the VSP does clearly state even after getting restoration by a judge you still have to provide them evidence) it still takes them a little while to get it in their system.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:59:25
by Mindflayer
Sorry to take this in a new direction....

But you pointed out 1991 was 25 years ago. Damn, I am getting old.

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Sat, 09 Dec 2017 18:55:44
by LandKruiser
I realize this is an old thread but here goes.

You are absolutely a felon in possession in all other states (except a few like Florida, not sure of others). Other started do not recognize your rights being restored. You must have your rights restored in those states. I can’t believe someone actually purchased a firearm in another state lol. I recommend anyone with questions about this to call and speak with John Pierce Esq. in Va Beach or visit his website.

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Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:52:45
by wittmeba
VCDL site:

I think John is in Bristol, Va according to his address. He covers most of the state of Va. John is on the gun-friendly lawyers on the VCDL site.

John Pierce, Esq.
The Law Office of John Pierce, Esq.

Updated: 09-OCT-2017
3101 Lee Highway
Ste. 18/19 #167
Bristol, VA 24202

(276) 206-9615

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:03:32
by LandKruiser
^ I stand corrected, thank you.

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Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Sat, 06 Jul 2019 00:16:39
by domin8ss
Sorry to revive an old thread. There's something everybody missed. In August 2017 I had a conversation with Utah DPS BCI about this topic. They informed me they've ran into situations many times where people have had their records expunged at the state level, but not the federal level, so they had to deny the CFP based on what the FBI reported to them. Every comment in this thread has focused on the state level, but not the federal records. This is one reason why people are getting dinged with their 2A rights in other states. They didn't take the time and go through the process of clearing federal records.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

Re: Rights restored - still a felon in poss. in other states?

PostPosted: Mon, 05 Aug 2019 20:00:26
by LandKruiser
^ From the VSP website-

The removal of federal firearms disabilities imposed by a state felony conviction will automatically result where there has been a restoration of all civil rights; i.e., the right to vote, hold public office, be a juror, and an unrestricted restoration of a person’s rights under state law to receive and possess firearms. An example of a restricted permit is one that limits the purchase, possession or transportation of a firearm to rifles or shotguns, only, for the purpose of hunting.

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