West Palm Beach, FL asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Florida

Q: Am I able to own a gun in NC if i had a felony arrest in FL that resulted in a plea of nolo contendre and adjud. withhel

I Successfully completed probation sentence and firearms were returned to me by fl sheriffs department. I can currently own them in Fl but i am not sure in NC. Will northcarolina recognize Floridas with hold of adjudication especially if the plea was nolo contendre?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael  Mayoral
Michael Mayoral
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Coral Gables, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: This is a very good question and it is very important that you figure this out before you possess a firearm in North Caroline. I handle many firearm-related cases and I can tell you that the consequences of being arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm can be severe. You can be charged in state and federal court for the same crime or offense.

To answer your question, it appears that North Carolina will not recognize Florida's "withhold of adjudication" and will count that offense as a felony conviction. The relevant NC law is "Article 54A: The Felony Firearms Act, § 14-415.1. Possession of firearms, etc., by felon prohibited" which defines a felony conviction as follows:

"The term "conviction" is defined as a final judgment in any case in which felony punishment, or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, as the case may be, is authorized, without regard to the plea entered or to the

sentence imposed."

A NC prosecutor can likely successfully argue that, despite the withhold of adjudication, you received a "final judgment" in a case in which "felony punishment... is authorized, without regard to the plea entered (nolo contendere for example) or the sentence imposed" (withhold of adjudication and probation).

Your best bet, in my opinion it to attempt to have your firearm rights in North Carolina restored. The applicable NC law is § 14-415.4. Restoration of firearms rights. Look it up and see if you meet the requirements. You can also hire an attorney to do it for you.

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