05 Aug Gun Rights and Expungements
Criminal History, Gun Rights and Expungements – How expunging or sealing your criminal history can restore your right to bear arms
If you have been convicted of a felony or even misdemeanors, you can lose your right to own or carry a firearm. However, through Indiana’s expungement law, you may be able to expunge or seal certain convictions and have your right to possess a firearm restored. The law surrounding a person’s criminal history, gun rights and expungements can be complicated, but an experienced attorney can help you navigate the system and clean up your criminal records while restoring your civil rights.
Criminal History, Gun Rights and Expungements – How does it all work?
Under state and federal law, if you have a conviction for a felony (a crime punishable to imprisonment of more than one year) you cannot own or carry a firearm. Additionally, if you are convicted of a crime of domestic violence, you may be disqualified from owning a firearm.
However, under Indiana’s expungement statute, a person who successfully petitions a court to expunge or seal a felony conviction can now be found to be a “proper person” under federal and state law in order to apply for a gun carry permit.
For those with domestic violence convictions, expunging the domestic violence conviction does not automatically restore the person’s gun rights. Instead, there is a separate Indiana statute (I.C. 35-47-4-7) that lays out the procedure for applying to reinstate gun rights five years after a conviction for a domestic violence offense.
Felony Criminal Convictions, Expungement & Restoring Gun Rights
For those with convictions for felony offenses, filing a petition for expungement or sealing of those records didn’t always restore gun rights. Under previous versions of Indiana’s expungement law, the ATF took the position that Indiana’s law wasn’t a true expungement and thus, did not restore gun rights under federal law. (18 U.S. Code § 922). However, modifications to the law have added language that specifically restores a person’s civil rights and right to be a “proper person” to obtain a gun permit. As such, the ATF changed its position and now supports that proposition that the law restores a person’s civil rights, including the right to own or possess a firearm.
In order to have your gun rights restored through an expungement petition, the order that is signed by the court must specifically state that your civil rights are restored, including your right to be a proper person. If this language is not there, the Indiana State Police will not approve an application for a carry permit. Moreover, the federal government will not honor the expungement and you may be violating federal law if you are found to be in possession of a gun.
The best course of action would be to make sure your attorney understands the laws and ensures that the necessary language is included in your order. After that order is granted and processed, your next step would be to apply for an Indiana gun carry permit and include a copy of the order with the application, which will speed up the process and avoid any unnecessary delays.
Domestic Violence Conviction, Gun Rights and Expungements
For a person with a domestic violence conviction, simply expunging a conviction is not enough to restore gun rights. Under Indiana law, those with domestic convictions must apply to have their gun rights restored through a separate application process. (I.C. 35-47-4-7).
Under this process, five years after a conviction, a person may petition a court to have the right to possess a firearm restored. The court shall consider facts such as whether the person has been subject to a protective order, completed counseling or substance abuse treatment, completed parenting classes or whether the person still poses a threat to the victim. The court may also condition the restoration of the person’s right to possess a gun on specified conditions.
Questions Regarding Your Criminal History, Gun Rights and Expungements?
If you have questions regarding a petition to expunge or seal a felony, misdemeanor or domestic violence conviction or if you have questions about clearing your criminal history, gun rights and expungements, Chambers Law Office is here. Attorney Julie Chambers is a former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor and has experience prosecuting and defending both criminal and traffic cases. Chambers Law Office handles expungement petitions throughout Indiana, including Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison, Hendricks or Boone counties. Contact Chambers Law Office today to speak with a lawyer at 317-450-2971.