Can a Convicted Felon Possess a Gun in Nevada?

In short, convicted felons are not allowed to own or even be in possession of a firearm in the United States. That includes the state of Nevada. While felons can have their rights restored through a judicial process, it is federal and state law that felons are not allowed to own, have on their person, or operate any form of firearm. Violating this law can have serious consequences, including prison time.

But the fact of who does and does not have the right to bear arms under federal and state felony laws can come into question when you or a loved one is charged with the offense. That’s why it’s so important to understand the laws prohibiting felons from possessing firearms.

But the fact of who does and does not have the right to bear arms under federal and state felony laws can come into question when you or a loved one is charged with the offense. That’s why it’s so important to understand the laws prohibiting felons from possessing firearms.

The Laws Prohibiting Felons From Having Firearms

United States law 18 U.S.C. §922(g) is the federal law that does not allow convicted felons to ever be in possession of a firearm or ammunition. The term “felon” refers to anyone “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Instructed by 18 U.S.C. §921 – Definitions, the term “firearm” refers to any weapon that fires projectiles with explosives (i.e., handguns, shotguns, rifles, etc.) as well as any accessory equipment, such as mufflers or silencers. 

“Firearm” also refers to any “destructive devices,” such as but not limited to:

  • Bombs
  • Grenades
  • Missiles
  • Explosive landmines

Nevada Revised Statutes 202.360 also establishes that a convicted felon (no matter what state they were convicted in) or a person with an open felony warrant cannot have a firearm “under his or her custody or control.” This statute also instructs that “firearm” also refers to any weapon as described above, whether it is loaded or unloaded, or whether it works or does not work.

Both the federal and state laws prohibit certain non-felon persons from owning or operating a firearm, including but not limited to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence (with or without the use or threat of deadly weapons) and persons illegally residing in the United States.

What Does “Possession of a Firearm” Really Mean?

Possession of a firearm” refers to:

  • Owning a firearm
  • Carrying a firearm
  • Purchasing or attempting to purchase a firearm
  • Operating a firearm in any environment
  • Transporting a firearm
  • Using a firearm in a controlled environment, such as a gun range

There are a few different types of “possession” that Nevada law recognizes, including but not limited to:

  • Actual possession: This type of possession refers to having a firearm on your person, such as in a holster or in your hands, or if you are the only person to have access to the firearm at the time of your arrest.
  • Constructive possession: This type refers to having convenient access to a firearm, such as when it’s located on your property or in a vehicle you drive—whether or not the firearm is yours or another person’s. It also refers to you concealing the weapon, having control over the space in which the firearm is located, or knowing that a firearm was in your presence and you could take control of it.
  • Joint possession: This type of possession is a form of constructive possession, meaning you have convenient access to a firearm that’s not yours but is located in a common area, such as a shared vehicle or home.

Can a Felon Own Firearms in Las Vegas?

Since felons cannot own firearms in Nevada, a felon living in Las Vegas cannot own or be in possession of a firearm. Per federal statute 18 U.S.C. §922(g) and Nevada state law N.R.S. 202.360, felons cannot have a firearm, ammunition, or firearm equipment on their person or their property. 

However, if you or a loved one have wrongfully been arrested for or charged with felony possession of a firearm, a gun charge defense lawyer in Las Vegas can help fight your case and protect your rights.

Is it Possible for a Felon to Be Allowed to Possess a Firearm?

There are a few ways that a felon’s right to possess a weapon or firearm may be restored.

  • An expunged conviction from the state in which the felon was convicted
  • A pardon
  • Sealed criminal records, though restoration of the right to bear arms is not guaranteed and may require further steps
  • A state’s restoration of the felon’s civil rights, including but not limited to the right to bear arms, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to vote

Most of these legal status changes are up to state officials, not federal officials. Felons can petition the state government to have their records sealed, have their conviction expunged, or receive a Governor’s pardon. In federal or military cases, a federal pardon may be granted, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

What Are the Penalties for Felons Caught With a Firearm?

A felon, person with a felony warrant, or applicable non-felon person caught in possession of a firearm can be charged with felony possession of a firearm, serve time in prison, and be subject to hefty fines up to $10,000, depending on the unique circumstances of the case. According to the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), the average prison sentence for felons convicted of firearm possession is 64 months. Additionally, non-citizens may even face deportation as a penalty.

Prison time can depend on a person’s felony status. For example, a convicted felon (who would receive a category B felony) may receive a longer prison sentence than a person illegally residing in the U.S. (who would receive a category D felony). In addition, the number of felony convictions or charges and the nature of those convictions or charges can also impact how much prison time one is sentenced to. A felon with three (3) or more federal felony convictions may see 15 years or more of prison time without parole.

Whether your arrest or your loved one’s arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm was rightful or not, you may want to work with a gun charge attorney in Nevada who can represent you.

Common Defenses for Felon in Possession Cases

A gun charge lawyer can use a few different defenses to prove a felon has the right to bear arms or fight a wrongful charge.

  • Legal allowance to possess a firearm, such as through a pardon
  • No proof of possession
  • Justifiable possession by self-defense in accordance with Nevada’s stand-your-ground laws
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • False accusation from someone with malintent

These are just some of the defenses that can be used to argue against a firearm possession charge or help reduce the punishment for having broken these laws.

Contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers for the Strong Defense You Need

The laws regarding convicted persons who can and cannot have a firearm in the state of Nevada can be confusing. The criminal law team at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can advise you on your illegal possession of a firearm case and help you better understand these laws. Our attorneys can build a strong case and advocate for you if you’re charged with felony firearm possession. 

Contact us anytime, 24/7, to get a consultation with a gun charge lawyer in Las Vegas today. Dial 702-805-2694.