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Spouses of felons can own guns in Nevada in theory, but it is a bad idea in practice. Nevada law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms, and prosecutors may be able to argue that convicted felons are in joint- or constructive possession of any firearms that their spouses own – even if their spouses keep them in a locked safe.
If a spouse of a felon chooses to own a firearm, it would be best to keep it in another person’s house or in a storage unit under the spouse’s name and that the felon cannot access.
What is the Nevada penalty for being a felon with a gun?
It is a category B felony in Nevada for convicted felons to possess a firearm. The penalty is:
Also note that felons who possess firearms face federal criminal charges as well. The sentence includes up to 10 years in Federal Prison and/or a fine.2
How can felons fight firearm possession charges?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, convicted felons charged with gun possession may be able to raise the following defenses:
The police found the gun through an unlawful search and seizure. If law enforcement violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights and discovered the gun through an unlawful search, then the court can suppress it as evidence. And then the prosecution’s case may be left too weak to continue.
The defendant did not know the gun was there. If for example the defendant’s spouse bought a gun, hid it, and never told the defendant about it, then the defendant could not have been in possession of the gun – even if it was in their house. Possession requires knowledge.
The defendant was not in possession of the gun. There are three types of possession: 1. actual possession, such as physically carrying a gun; 2. constructive possession, such as keeping a gun in a place you have control over – such as an office drawer or home closet; and 3. joint possession, such as sharing possession with a roommate. If the defendant’s spouse kept a gun in a storage unit that only the spouse has access to, it would be difficult for the D.A. to argue that the defendant possessed the gun.
Can the spouse be charged with a crime for having a gun?
Typically prosecutors just charge the felon for unlawful possession of a firearm. But spouses of felons who own guns can potentially face a gross misdemeanorconspiracy charge. The penalties include:
Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
Up to $2,000 in fines.3
Can gun rights be restored in Nevada?
The only way convicted felons can restore their gun rights in Nevada is to get a Nevada Governor’s Pardon. This is very difficult to do, and very few pardons are granted.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.