I am interested in getting my gun rights restored in Virginia. How long will it take before I can purchase or possess a firearm?
There really isn’t a hard answer to this question because the amount of time it takes to have your gun rights restored in Virginia is so jurisdiction dependent. Some places require a hearing on your petition for restoration, while others don’t. Some counties will only require a hearing if additional evidence needs to be presented before a decision on the petition. The most common scenario would look something like this. Let’s say you came into my office tomorrow, prepared with all of the requisite documents needs to file your petition (orders of conviction/sentencing orders; order of political rights restoration from the Governor’s office; a summary of your education, employment, community involvement, and family involvement since the conviction; and a summary of your motivations for seeking restoration). Armed with all of those documents, I generally tell my clients that I will hand-file their petition within 48 hours of our first meeting. The reason I like to file them as expeditiously as possible is because the sooner the petition is filed, the sooner we are on the road to restoration. In a jurisdiction that requires a hearing, the petition will usually be put on the docket somewhere between 6-8 weeks from the date of filing. Most courts hear firearm rights restoration petitions on a particular day each week. In the smaller jurisdictions, hearings on these petitions may only be heard once a month. Following the hearing, the judge will either grant or deny your order of restoration. If granted, I will acquire a copy of the order on the same day as your hearing so that I can submit it to Virginia State Police’s firearm transactions center. VSP will log the order so that when you decide to purchase, your restoration will show on the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) background check. VSP generally takes somewhere between 7-10 days to process the order. Accordingly, if your petition is filed in a jurisdiction that requires a hearing, you are looking at, on average, a wait of 8-10 weeks from the day on our initial meeting to the day when you can purchase and/or possess a firearm. The other scenario would involve filing in a locality that does not require a hearing. From a time perspective, this can change things significantly. When a hearing is not required, two things must occur for a finalized order: (1) the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office must answer your petition with a response of “No Objection” and (2) after receipt of the CA’s answer noting no objection, the sitting judge must sign your order of restoration in chambers. In certain cases, that process is no shorter than when a hearing is required. However, I have also seen orders be turned around in less than three weeks in courts that do not require a hearing. On a case-by-case basis, each one is a little bit different. As a general rule, I advise my clients to expect the 8-10 week waiting period.