Finding out whether you can own a firearm after a felony offense can be a tricky process. We’re here to help you figure out if you are eligible for possessing a gun after a felony conviction in Louisiana. Our attorneys at Greenwald Law Firm understand that state and federal law may not always go hand in hand. This post will walk you through determining if you can restore your gun rights, and how to restore them.

State vs. Federal Restoration of Gun Rights: What’s the Difference?

  • Louisiana State Law:

Louisiana law prohibits possessing a firearm if you receive a felony conviction for a crime of violence. This also applies if you have have a felony violation of the Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, or have any offense defined as a sex offense.

Examples of crimes of violence in Louisiana include: murder, manslaughter, battery, and assault.

The Controlled Dangerous Substances Act prohibits possessing or distributing any illegal narcotics. This can include marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription drugs without a prescription.

Examples of sex offenses in Louisiana include: rape, sexual battery, molestation, and human trafficking.

  • Federal Law

The Gun Control Act prohibits the possession of a firearm by anyone convicted in federal court of a crime for which they could be in prison for over one year. It’s important to note that you don’t have to have received a sentence of over one year. The federal rule applies if you could have received over a one year sentence.

Can I restore my firearm rights if I receive a felony conviction?

In Louisiana, it is not a criminal offense to possess a gun 10 years after you complete your sentence. The sentence includes any and all probation or parole requirements.  This means that, 10 years after the completion of your sentence, you may possess a gun under Louisiana law. This does not mean, however, that you won’t get into trouble under federal law.

Let’s think back to the Gun Control Act, which prohibits possession of a firearm if your sentence could have been imprisonment for over a year. Under federal law, if this conviction gets expunged, set aside, or if you receive a pardon, it no longer counts as a conviction. One caveat to this is if the expungement specifically states that you may not possess a firearm. We call this the “unless clause.”

The “unless clause” means that if you cannot own one type of gun under state law, you cannot own any type of gun under federal law. For example, if you cannot legally obtain a concealed carry permit in Louisiana, you will violate federal law if you possess any type of firearm. In this situation, full restoration of gun rights requires that you be eligible for a Louisiana concealed carry permit.

Will restoring my gun rights under Louisiana state law also restore my gun rights under federal law?

The bottom line is that you can restore your gun rights under Louisiana and federal law as long as you meet these conditions:

  • Your conviction was not for a crime of violence,
  • 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence,
  • Your conviction gets expunged.

How to restore gun rights lost by a Louisiana conviction?

Your gun rights will restore 10 years after the completion of your sentence so long as no other felony convictions occur during that period. First offender pardons do not restore gun rights prior to the end of this 10 year period. A very rare exception may come in the form of a governor’s pardon, which does restore your gun rights.

What happens after my gun rights get restored?

Once your gun rights get restored in Louisiana, it’s important to remember that any restriction of a firearm under state law means a restriction on all firearms under federal law. For example, if you are only prohibited from possessing a handgun in Louisiana, you can be punished under federal law for owning a shotgun.

Basically, if you cannot possess all types of guns under state law, you can possess no guns under federal law. This also applies to concealed carry permits and weapons.

What if I don’t know if my civil rights have been restored?

Your full rights are restored 10 years after the completion of your sentence, including probation or parole. If you are unsure about the status of your restoration, we recommend speaking to our experienced attorneys at Greenwald Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in Louisiana law, and we can guide you through the restoration process. Federal and state laws mingle in confusing ways. We’re here to help simplify your case, and get you all the information you need to restore your rights. Greenwald Law Firm is here to build your case, protect your rights, and restore them. If you’d like to explore your options, contact us for a free consultation today.

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