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Will sealing my criminal record in Nevada restore my gun rights?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jun 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

No. A Nevada record seal can never restore a person's gun rights. The only possible way to get gun rights restored in Nevada is through a Nevada Governor's Pardon, and not all pardons restore gun rights.

Definition of a pardon

A Nevada pardon is a government-issued "forgiveness" of a defendant's past crime(s). Unlike record sealing, pardons do not hide the conviction(s) from the defendant's record. But some pardons can restore a defendant's gun rights.

How people lose gun rights

People are prohibited from having guns in the following situations:

  • They have been convicted of a felony, stalking, or domestic violence;
  • They are fugitives;
  • They are drug addicts;
  • 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.

Penalties for unlawfully having a gun without a pardon

Being an ex-felon, fugitive, or drug addict in possession of a firearm is prosecuted in Nevada as a category B felony, carrying:

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

If the defendant is an illegal alien or mentally ill, the sentence is slightly lower:

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

Once a person gets his/her gun rights restored through a pardon, federal law enforcement cannot use the pardoned conviction to charge him/her under federal law for "unlawful possession of a firearm."

How do I get a pardon in Nevada?

Applicants can download the Nevada pardon application and submit it online or through the mail. It is highly recommended that applicants hire an attorney to investigate whether the person is eligible for a pardon and then to compose the application.

Do all Nevada pardons restore gun rights?

No. Pardon applicants have to check the box on the pardon application requesting their gun rights back. And that is still no guarantee that the Pardons Board will restore the gun rights. 

Note that some states are stricter than Nevada about gun laws, and these states may still prosecute convicted felons for possessing a firearm even though they were pardoned in Nevada. So convicted felons who plan to travel out-of-state should learn those states' gun laws prior to traveling there.


Legal References:

NRS 202.360  Ownership or possession of firearm by certain persons prohibited; penalties.

      1.  A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:

      (a) Has been convicted in this State or any other state of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33);

      (b) Has been convicted of a felony in this State or any other state, or in any political subdivision thereof, or of a felony in violation of the laws of the United States of America, unless the person has received a pardon and the pardon does not restrict his or her right to bear arms;

      (c) Is a fugitive from justice;

      (d) Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance; or

      (e) Is otherwise prohibited by federal law from having a firearm in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control.

--> A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.

      2.  A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:

      (a) Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility by a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (b) Has entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill in a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (c) Has been found guilty but mentally ill in a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (d) Has been acquitted by reason of insanity in a court of this State, any other state or the United States; or

      (e) Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

--> A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

      3.  As used in this section:

      (a) “Controlled substance” has the meaning ascribed to it in 21 U.S.C. § 802(6).

      (b) “Firearm” includes any firearm that is loaded or unloaded and operable or inoperable.

NRS 213.090  Pardon: Restoration of civil rights; relieved of disabilities; limitations.

      1.  A person who is granted a full, unconditional pardon by the Board is restored to all civil rights, including, without limitation, the right to bear arms, and is relieved of all disabilities incurred upon conviction.

      2.  A pardon granted by the Board shall be deemed to be a full, unconditional pardon unless the official document issued pursuant to subsection 3 explicitly limits the restoration of the civil rights of the person or does not relieve the person of all disabilities incurred upon conviction.

      3.  Upon being granted a pardon by the Board, a person so pardoned must be given an official document which provides that the person has been granted a pardon. If the person is restored to the right to bear arms, the official document must explicitly state that the person is restored to the right to bear arms. If the person has not been granted a full, unconditional pardon, the official document must explicitly state all limitations on the restoration of the civil rights of the person and all disabilities incurred upon conviction from which the person is not relieved.

      4.  A person who has been granted a pardon in this State or elsewhere and whose official documentation of his or her pardon is lost, damaged or destroyed may file a written request with a court of competent jurisdiction to restore his or her civil rights pursuant to this section. Upon verification that the person has been granted a pardon and is eligible to be restored to his or her civil rights, the court shall issue an order restoring the person to his or her civil rights. A person must not be required to pay a fee to receive such an order.

      5.  A person who has been granted a pardon in this State or elsewhere may present:

      (a) Official documentation of his or her pardon; or

      (b) A court order restoring his or her civil rights,

--> as proof that the person has been restored to his or her civil rights. 

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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