03 Oct 23

How to Restore Gun Ownership Rights After a St. Petersburg Conviction

| by

Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm

How to Restore Gun Ownership Rights After a St. Petersburg Conviction

Losing your right to own a gun is one of the harsh consequences of being convicted of a felony in Florida. Even after completing your sentence and having your civil rights restored, Florida law imposes an additional waiting period before you can legally own a firearm again.

The process can be confusing, with both state and federal laws affecting your gun rights. This article explains the step-by-step process for regaining your gun ownership rights in Florida after a St. Petersburg conviction.

Overview of Florida’s Firearm Laws

Florida law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition[1]. This applies to convictions in Florida state courts as well as federal court or out-of-state convictions[2].

In addition to felonies, federal law also prohibits firearm possession for those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence[3].

There are two ways under Florida law that a felon can regain their gun rights:

  • Full Pardon – Restores all civil rights, including the right to own firearms[1].
  • Specific Authority to Own Firearms – Grants the right to own guns, but not other civil rights[1].

Waiting Periods for Firearm Rights Restoration

Florida has mandatory waiting periods before you can apply to have your gun rights restored[1]:

  • 10 years – The waiting period to apply for a full pardon. This waiting period starts after completion of all sentences, probation, parole etc.
  • 8 years – The waiting period to apply for specific authority to own firearms. This waiting period also starts after full completion of your sentence.

These waiting periods are some of the longest in the country. However, the clock doesn’t start until your full sentence is complete, so any violations of probation for example would pause the waiting period.

Federal firearm prohibitions for felony convictions remain for life unless you receive a presidential pardon.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for restoration of gun rights in Florida, you must[1]:

  • Have completed all sentences imposed, including probation, parole etc. at least 8 or 10 years ago depending on the type of application.
  • Have paid all restitution owed.
  • Have no pending criminal charges or outstanding detainers.
  • Not have any felony convictions for certain violent crimes (murder, sexual battery, etc.)
LEARN MORE  Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 175.35)

In addition, you must demonstrate that you deserve restoration of your civil rights and have been rehabilitated. Factors considered include your employment history, community involvement, character references, and lack of additional arrests[1].

How to Apply to Restore Gun Rights in Florida

  1. Determine eligibility – The first step is to review the eligibility requirements and waiting periods to see if you qualify to apply.
  2. Obtain documentation – For each felony conviction, you will need certified copies of the judgment, sentence, and other court documents relating to your case.
  3. Complete application – You will need to fill out an application for either a full pardon or specific authority to own firearms. This can be obtained from the Florida Office of Executive Clemency.
  4. Submit application – The completed application, along with all documentation, fees, and character references should be submitted to the Office of Executive Clemency.
  5. Background investigation – Your application will go through an initial review, and then an investigator may contact references and review your history to develop a report.
  6. Clemency hearing – In some cases, a hearing will be scheduled where you can explain why your gun rights should be restored.
  7. Decision – If approved, you will receive a certificate restoring your right to own firearms. If denied, you can reapply after 2 years.

Limitations for Federal Felony Convictions

One major limitation is that if you have a federal felony conviction, there is currently no way to restore your gun rights under federal law[3].

While Florida can restore your state gun rights, this does not lift the federal prohibition. You would need to receive a presidential pardon to restore federal gun rights after a federal conviction.

Restoring Other Civil Rights

As part of the application process to restore your gun rights, you may also choose to request restoration of other civil rights lost due to a felony conviction. These include[4]:

  • Right to vote
  • Right to serve on a jury
  • Right to hold public office
  • Right to apply for certain professional licenses

Restoring these other civil rights follows a similar process of submitting an application to the Office of Executive Clemency and demonstrating your rehabilitation.

Expungement or Sealing of Criminal Records

Another option that may help restore your gun rights is to pursue expungement or sealing of your criminal record.

If your record is expunged under Florida law, then you are generally not considered to have been convicted[5]. This means you can legally answer that you have not been convicted on background checks and applications.

LEARN MORE  220.77 Operating as a major trafficker

However, expungement does not lift the federal prohibition for felony convictions. You would still need a presidential pardon to own firearms under federal law.

Consequences of Violating Firearm Prohibitions

It is critical to go through the proper procedures to have your gun rights restored before possessing a firearm. The penalties for unlawful firearm possession are severe.

Under Florida law, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine[6].

Under federal law, the penalty for unlawful possession of firearms or ammunition is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Restoring Gun Rights for Domestic Violence Offenses

In addition to felonies, federal law also imposes a lifetime firearm prohibition for those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence[3].

This applies to any conviction related to domestic violence, such as battery or assault against a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant etc. There is no ability under federal law to restore gun rights lost due to a domestic violence conviction.

However, in Florida you may petition a court to restore your right to own firearms under state law after 3 years. This would allow you to possess guns in Florida with state charges, but federal charges could still apply.

Conclusion – Take Proactive Steps to Regain Gun Rights

Losing the right to own firearms is one of the most severe collateral consequences of a Florida conviction.

However, through Florida’s clemency process, it may be possible to petition to have your gun rights restored after an 8 to 10 year waiting period. This involves submitting an application to the Office of Executive Clemency and demonstrating your rehabilitation.

To fully restore federal gun rights after a state conviction, you must also have your civil rights restored under state law. For federal convictions, only a presidential pardon can restore federal gun rights.

Consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in Florida’s clemency and restoration of civil rights process is highly recommended for anyone seeking to regain their gun rights. An attorney can guide you through the complex application process and help put together the strongest case.

Don’t wait – if you may be eligible to restore your gun rights, start the process today. Successfully regaining your Second Amendment rights takes time, but with commitment and perseverance, you can once again legally own firearms after a Florida conviction.