A conviction for any felony or for a misdemeanor crime of battery domestic violence makes it illegal to own a firearm in Nevada.1 Illegal possession of a firearm is a category B felony that can be punished by up to six years in prison.
Unfortunately, the only way to restore your Nevada gun rights is to receive a pardon from the Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners.2 The Board consists of the governor of Nevada, the justices of the Nevada Supreme Court and the Nevada Attorney General.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. Are pardons easy to get?
- 2. Who is eligible?
- 3. How soon can I apply?
- 4. Do all pardons restore gun rights?
- 5. Do other states recognize Nevada pardons?
1. Are pardons easy to get?
No. Pardons are difficult to obtain in Nevada. 1000 or so pardon petitions are received each year by the Board of Commissioners, which only agrees to a hearing in approximately 2% of cases. Of those who receive a hearing, however, some 50% are granted pardons.
This makes the pardon application the single most critical factor in restoring your gun rights in Nevada. We can help you craft a compelling pardon petition that offers you the best chance of success with the Nevada Pardons Board.3
2. Who is eligible?
The Board of Pardons Commissioners can only pardon you for a Nevada state conviction. They do not have the authority to pardon federal convictions or convictions from another state or territory.
If you were convicted in another state, you will need to obtain a pardon from that state’s pardon commission or governor. Pardons for federal crimes can only be granted by the President of the United States through a petition filed with the United States Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney.
To be considered for a pardon in Nevada, you must no longer be serving your sentence or subject to the supervision of the courts. Thus you are not eligible to have your Nevada gun rights restored if:
To learn how to terminate your obligation to register as a sex offender, please see our article: How to get off the Nevada sex offender registry.
3. How soon can I apply?
Although exceptions are made, your gun rights may only be restored after a certain period of time has passed since your full release from the justice system. These are minimum periods only: The Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners typically rejects pardon applications unless a “significant period of time has passed.”
The earliest you may normally apply for a Nevada pardon depends on the category of your conviction as follows:
Misdemeanor domestic violence
- 5 years from the later of:
- Your release from actual custody, or
- The date on which you are no longer under a suspended sentence.
Category E felony
- 6 years from your release from probation, parole or prison.
Category C or D felony
- 8 years from your release from probation, or
- 9 years from your release from parole or prison.
Category B felony
- 8 years from your release from probation, or
- 10 years from your release from parole or prison.
Category A felony
- 12 years from your release from probation, parole or prison.
There are numerous additional requirements for applications for Nevada pardons. To learn about these requirements, please see our article on Nevada Pardons Law.
4. Do all pardons restore gun rights?
A pardon can restore your civil rights, including your Second Amendment right to own a firearm. However, not all Nevada pardons restore gun rights. Your pardon must specify that it is “full and unconditional” or it must specifically restore your right to own a firearm.
In order to be considered for a pardon that restores your gun rights, you must check the restore gun rights box on your Nevada pardon application. If you do not check this box, the Pardon Board will not restore your gun rights.
However, even if you check the box, the Board is not required to restore your right to own a firearm. That decision is fully within the discretion of the Board.
Note that a Nevada pardon “forgives” you of a crime but does not erase your record. The only way to erase your record is to get your Nevada criminal record sealed (although that in itself will not restore your gun rights).
5. Do other states recognize Nevada pardons?
States usually honor each other’s pardons, but they are not obligated to do so. Some states have stricter gun laws than Nevada does. Accordingly, we recommend that you seek legal counsel in the state where you wish to possess a gun before relying on a Nevada pardon.
However, once Nevada has restored your gun rights, you cannot be convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm under federal law.5
- NRS 202.360; 18 U.S. Code 922(g)(9). See, for example, Pohlabel v. State (2012) ; Hand v. State (1991) .
- NRS 213.090.
- If you would prefer to apply on your own, you can download the Nevada pardon application form here. However, because it is so difficult to obtain a pardon in Nevada, we highly recommend that you seek the help of an attorney with experience filing Nevada criminal pardon petitions.
- A court of competent jurisdiction must relieve you of your obligation to register as a sex offender before you can be granted a pardon. You can find minimum sex offender registration periods in NRS 179D.490.
- 18 U.S. Code 921(a)(20).