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Can a Felon Own a Gun in Arizona?

Posted on April 20, 2022 in Criminal Defense,Defense Strategies,Firearms Crimes

When someone is convicted of a felony crime, many of his or her constitutional rights are stripped as part of the punishment. In Arizona, this includes the right to bear arms. In Arizona, state law (as well as federal law) prohibits the ownership of a firearm or even ammunition by convicted felons. You may be able to have your gun rights restored after being convicted of a felony in Arizona, however, after fulfilling certain requirements.

What Can Make You Lose the Right to Bear Arms in Arizona?

Arizona’s gun laws are relatively relaxed. It is seventh on the list of states with the highest number of registered guns. When it comes to gun ownership for convicted felons, however, Arizona takes a tougher stance. Anyone who is convicted of a felony crime in Arizona automatically loses the right to own guns and ammunition. Felonies include theft of property worth at least $2,000, burglary, drug charges, aggravated domestic violence, aggravated assault, fraudulent use of a credit card, forgery and certain dangerous crimes against children.

If you are found in possession of a firearm as someone who has been convicted of a felony (and has not had this right restored), you risk heavy penalties even if the gun isn’t yours. This is an additional felony criminal charge under Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-3102. This law states that owning or possessing a deadly weapon illegally as a felon is known as misconduct involving weapons and is a class 4 felony offense. This crime typically carries a sentence of 4.5 years in prison for individuals with previous felony convictions.

How Hard Is it to Get Gun Rights Restored in Arizona?

Firearm rights that are lost due to a felony conviction may be restored in Arizona in certain circumstances. To regain your right to own a gun as an individual in Arizona who was convicted of a nonviolent crime, you must wait at least two years after your discharge from jail or prison.

If you were convicted of a violent crime or dangerous events, you must wait 10 years.

The restoration process requires your conviction to first be “set aside.” This is Arizona’s equivalent to record expungement. You must qualify to have your offense set aside, meaning you cannot have been convicted of certain crimes involving serious bodily injuries, deadly weapons, sexual offenses or victims under the age of 15. In addition, you must have completed your sentence and paid all fines in full. 

Once your conviction has been set aside, you must complete a separate petitioning process to restore your gun ownership rights. You may need a Phoenix firearm crimes defense attorney to help you with this process, which typically takes about five months. You must pay a filing fee when you submit your request. The right to bear arms may also be restored to a felon through a pardon, if the document specifically allows for this.

In What States Can a Felon Own a Gun?

Not all states make it as difficult to restore gun rights after being convicted of a felony crime as Arizona. In at least 11 states, gun restoration rights are automatic – meaning the courts will not review the case or the convicted individual. Once the individual completes a criminal sentence or has passed a certain amount of time without a subsequent conviction, his or her right to bear firearms is automatically restored. These states include:

  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island

Even people with violent felonies on their records can petition to have their gun rights restored in these states, which award many pardons each year to give back firearm privileges. In some of these states, the right to bear arms is automatically restored after a certain period without the individual having to set aside the conviction. In Arizona, however, the petitioning process can be long and arduous. To receive assistance restoring your gun ownership rights as a felon in Arizona, contact the lawyers at AZ Defenders.