The right to possess a weapon is made explicit in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Louisiana Constitution provides:
Article I, §11. The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.
In Louisiana law, convictions will temporarily affect these rights. Those effects fall into three basic classes: (1) misdemeanors, (2) probation restrictions and restraining orders, and (3) felonies.
You should note, however, that under federal law, the effects of a Louisiana felony conviction are usually permanent.
In general, a misdemeanor conviction does not affect your right to possess a weapon. The notable exception is domestic abuse battery under LSA-R.S. 14:35.3. The penalty provision of that law includes: “the offender shall not own or possess a firearm throughout the entirety of the sentence.”
Probation Restrictions and Restraining Orders
The misdemeanor domestic abuse battery statute’s prohibition against possessing a firearm is essentially a probation restriction. Similarly, courts are empowered to make reasonable restrictions on any person who is placed on probation, and there is no legal prohibition against a court preventing a person on misdemeanor probation from possessing a firearm, even in cases where the misdemeanor crime penalty does not expressly provide for suspension of gun rights.
A domestic abuse restraining order, while neither a conviction, nor a probation, is similar to probation in that a court orders certain restrictions on behavior, at least pending the outcome of a contradictory hearing or for a specific period of time. Louisiana law now provides:
§2136.3. Prohibition on the possession of firearms by a person against whom a protective order is issued
A. Any person against whom the court has issued a permanent injunction or a protective order pursuant to a court-approved consent agreement or pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 9:361 et seq., R.S. 9:372, R.S. 46:2136, 2151, or 2173, Children's Code Article 1570, Code of Civil Procedure Article 3607.1, or Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 30, 327.1, 335.1, 335.2, or 871.1 shall be prohibited from possessing a firearm for the duration of the injunction or protective order if both of the following occur:
(1) The permanent injunction or protective order includes a finding that the person subject to the permanent injunction or protective order represents a credible threat to the physical safety of a family member or household member.
(2) The permanent injunction or protective order informs the person subject to the permanent injunction or protective order that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8) and R.S. 46:2136.3.
B. For the provisions of this Section, "firearm" means any pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, submachine gun, black powder weapon, or assault rifle which is designed to fire or is capable of firing fixed cartridge ammunition or from which a shot or projectile is discharged by an explosive
Acts 2014, No. 195, §2; Acts 2015, No. 440, §3.
A felony conviction will result in the suspension of Louisiana gun possession rights while on probation or parole for the felony. In some cases, that prohibition will extend for an additional 10 years after completion of sentence, parole, probation, or deferral of sentence.
LSA-R.S. 14:95.1 is the inexactly-described “felon in possession of a weapon” statute. In reality, this statute does not apply to all felonies. It applies to all crimes of violence, sex crimes, drug crimes, burglaries, unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, felony illegal use of weapons, manufacture or possession of a delayed action incendiary device or bomb, and possession of a firearm while in the possession of or during the sale or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, or any crime defined as an attempt to commit one of the above-enumerated offenses.
Anyone convicted of these crimes shall not possess a firearm for a period of ten years from the date of completion of sentence, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
A first-offender’s pardon does not restore gun rights. The 10-year cleansing period applies even after the pardon. A governor’s pardon, does restore gun rights, but these special pardons are very rare.
A Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893(E) deferral of sentence and subsequent acquittal and setting aside of conviction does not restore gun rights, and the 10-year cleansing period applies even after the conviction is set aside.
An expungement of the arrest and conviction does not restore gun rights, and the 10-year cleansing period applies even after an expungement is granted. Further, under penalty of federal law, any Louisiana felony conviction permanently bars you from purchasing or possessing a firearm. BEWARE OF THIS.
Importantly, though, recent changes to Louisiana law, effective August 2016, are designed to address the disparity between state and federal law. In a narrow band of cases, an expungement may cure the federal disability, if ten years have passed since the completion of sentence, the expungement has been granted, and the crime was a non-violent, non-sexual first-offence that was set-aside under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893. This is a developing area of law, and it is still unclear how federal authorities will interpret these new changes to Louisiana law.
The Louisiana Expungement Assistance & Advocacy Center (LEAAC), a division of the law practice of S. Christie Smith IV, has extensive experience in obtaining expungements for convictions throughout the state of Louisiana, as well as in the development and application of the newly-reformed Louisiana expungement laws. We are also familiar with the interplay between these state expungamnet laws and federal weapons prohibitions. If you have any questions about getting a Louisiana expungement, or how it may affect your gun rights, please call LEAAC at 337.308.7667. An experienced Louisiana expungement attorney will review your case, offer suggestions on the best course of action for your circumstances, and answer your questions—often on the same day.
Updated September 2016