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Will a pardon in Nevada restore my gun rights?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Nov 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Yes, if the Nevada Governor's Pardon explicitly says that the person's gun rights are restored. Note that a Nevada record seal can never restore a person's gun rights.

Nevada pardons and gun rights

Convicted felons in Nevada are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms unless they are granted a pardon restoring that right.

Note that not all pardons restore gun rights: People applying for pardons need to check the box on the pardon application requesting gun rights. And then the Pardons Board needs to agree to restore the person's gun rights.

Once a person has his/her firearm rights restored under a pardon, federal authorities may not use the pardoned conviction to prosecute the person under federal law for "unlawful possession of a firearm." However, states which have stricter gun laws may still be able to use pardoned Nevada convictions to prosecute the person for gun crimes.

Definition of a pardon

A Nevada pardon shows that the state government has "forgiven" a person of a past crime. Contrary to record sealing, pardons do not make a past conviction invisible on future background checks. But pardons can restore gun rights and civil rights.

How people lose gun rights

People lose their right to have a gun in various situations, including:

  • They have been convicted of a felony, stalking, or domestic violence;
  • They are fugitives;
  • They are addicted to drugs;
  • They are the subject of a domestic violence protection order;
  • They have been adjudicated as mentally ill or have been committed; or
  • They are undocumented immigrants.

Punishment for illegally having a gun without a pardon in Nevada

It is a category B felony in Nevada to possess a firearm if the possessor is a felon, fugitive, or drug addict. The punishment includes:

  • one to six (1 - 6) years in prison, and
  • possibly a $5,000 fine

The sentence is laxer if the possessor is an illegal alien or mentally ill:

  • one to four (1 - 4) years in prison, and
  • possibly a $5,000 fine

Getting a pardon in Nevada

After applicants download the Nevada pardon application, they may submit it online or mail it. Applicants are strongly advised to retain an attorney to check the person's eligibility for a pardon and compose the pardon application in attempt to increase the applicant's chances of success.

Pardon eligibility

Pardons are difficult to get, and they are granted on a case-by-case basis. People who have demonstrated good character for a long period of time are more likely to get pardoned than those who have not. 

In general, the Pardons Board denies pardons to people who either:

  • are serving their sentence;
  • are on parole;
  • are required to register as a sex offender;
  • are under investigation for a crime;
  • have unresolved criminal charges;
  • have a criminal case on appeal; and/or
  • are not rehabilitated

However, the Pardons Board can make an exception if the person can demonstrate "extraordinary circumstances or case factors that mitigate disqualifying criteria."

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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