Kentucky gun laws allow most individuals to own and possess handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Kentucky residents are not required to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun. They can also carry concealed guns or openly carry guns without a permit. 

That does not mean that there are no restrictions on guns. Kentucky gun laws impose certain restrictions on purchasing, owning, and possessing guns. One restriction of gun ownership relates to individuals convicted of a felony.

Can a Convicted Felon Legally Own a Gun in Kentucky?

Felons do not have the same legal gun rights as the average person. It is illegal for a person convicted of a felony to own or possess a firearm in most situations. 

It does not matter whether the person was convicted of the felony in another state. A felony conviction in any state prohibits you from owning or possessing a firearm in Kentucky. 

According to Kentucky Revised Statutes §527.040, you can be charged with the crime of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon if you possess, transport, or manufacture a firearm with a felony conviction from any state or federal court. If you are charged with this crime, you face a Class D felony charge. If a felon possesses a handgun, the charge is a Class C felony.

Punishment for possessing a firearm as a felony can include a substantial fine and prison term. Depending on the class of felony, you could be charged with a fine of up to $10,000 and sentenced to one to ten years in prison.

It is important to note that the law applies to youthful offenders. If you were convicted of a felony when you were a minor, the felony follows you throughout your life and impacts your gun rights. 

When Can a Felon Own a Firearm in Kentucky?

There are some cases in which a convicted felon may legally own or possess a firearm. The three exceptions are very specific and can be difficult to obtain, depending on the felony charge and the person’s prior criminal history. 

The three exceptions to the law that prohibits felons from owning or possessing a firearm:

  • The person received a full pardon by the President of the United States or the Governor of Kentucky
  • The felony conviction was expunged or vacated according to Kentucky Revised Statutes §431.073
  • The person received relief from the United States Secretary of Treasury according to the Federal Bun Control Act of 1968

It is important to note that felons are prohibited from owning a gun under federal law. A federal felony conviction also impacts your gun rights in Kentucky. If a felon possesses a gun while committing other crimes or serious drug crimes, the person could face federal weapons charges

Criminal Charges for Selling or Transferring a Gun to a Felon

In addition to arresting and charging the felon with a crime, law enforcement officers may also arrest the person who furnished the gun to the felon. According to Kentucky Revised Statute §237.070, it is a crime to knowingly transfer or sell a firearm to a felon. The firearm is subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Selling or transferring a firearm to a felon is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the person could serve up to 90 days in jail and be fined up to $500.

Fighting Weapons Charges in Kentucky

If you are a convicted felon, it is best to stay away from firearms. The penalty for violating the law can be severe. If you have a gun in your possession while committing another crime, the penalties can be even more severe. 

However, if you are charged with illegal possession of a gun, there could be one or more legal defenses to the charges. You could be innocent, or the police officers could have violated your civil rights with an illegal search and seizure. The gun might belong to someone else in the home or vehicle.

A criminal defense lawyer in Kentucky investigates the circumstances of your arrest to determine the best legal strategy to use in your defense. Even if you are guilty of the charges, working with a lawyer could help you obtain a plea agreement that avoids the most severe penalties for the charges. Your lawyer can argue that there were mitigating factors that a judge should consider before sentencing.

As with any criminal charges, it is always best to avoid talking to the police without a lawyer present. You have the legal right to remain silent and consult with an attorney. Exercising both of your legal rights is the best way to fight a weapons charge in Kentucky.