Criminal Defense Lawyers
At George Law, our lawyers are well-informed about the options available to restore our clients’ firearms rights. We understand that regaining these rights can feel like an uphill battle. We are ready to provide you with our expertise and advocate for you during this difficult process. Please contact our office at (248) 470-4300 or contact us online for a free consultation.
A felony conviction on your criminal record can be devastating. It can impact many areas of your life. Unfortunately, completing your sentence does not mean all the freedoms you had before your conviction are automatically returned to you. Some civil rights, including your right to have and use a gun, must be earned. A felony conviction results in the termination of your right to possess, use, or buy a gun for a specific time. The process of restoring your firearms rights can be complex and lengthy, and different rules and procedures apply to restore those rights at the federal and state level.
Understanding the laws and processes will help you regain your independence as a lawful gun owner. The information in this article can also help you avoid situations that could make regaining your rights more difficult.
Restoring Firearms Rights At The State Level
Not all crimes will result in the loss of your firearms rights. Under Michigan law, felony convictions and attempted felonies with a possible prison sentence of four or more years automatically terminate your firearms rights, including any association with ammunition.
It is important to understand that the amount of time you serve is not the number that determines whether the law applies to your felony conviction. What matters is that the felony has the potential to result in a prison sentence of four or more years. For example, suppose you are convicted of the felony Third Degree Home Invasion and sentenced to three years in prison. The conviction is likely to terminate your firearms rights because the maximum sentence is five years.
Non-Specified Vs. Specified Felonies
Felonies resulting in termination of firearms rights are divided into two categories, “non-specified” and “specified.” The category determines the ease of restoring rights.
Non-specified felonies result in automatic restoration of firearms rights after the following items are completed and three years have passed:
- You have paid in full all fines associated with your conviction;
- You have served your prison sentence;
- You have successfully completed all terms of probation or parole.
The three-year period does not begin until you have completed the above requirements. After three years, you likely will not need to take further action to restore your firearms rights at the state level.
Specified felony convictions do NOT automatically restore firearms rights after you’ve served your sentence and satisfied all other obligations. Specified felonies include:
- Unlawful interactions with controlled substances (possession, distribution, manufacture, dispense, import, or export);
- Unlawful use of an explosive;
- Unlawful possession or distribution of a firearm;
- Burglary or Breaking and Entering;
- An element in a felony includes threatened use, attempted use, or use of physical force against another person or property;
- Felonies where there might be a substantial risk of physical force against another person or property while committing the offense.
If you have been convicted of one of the above felonies, your waiting period is longer, and you must complete additional requirements to restore your firearms rights. Specified felonies have a five-year waiting period before you can restore those rights. Like in non-specified felonies, you must serve your prison sentence, successfully complete all terms of probation or parole, and pay fines associated with the conviction. After you have met those requirements, the five-year period begins, and you will have to wait until the period is over before taking further action.
After five years have passed, you must file a petition to restore your gun rights in the court where you live. At the hearing, you must show a judge that:
- You met the terms of probation or parole, paid all fines, and served your sentence;
- Your record and reputation show that you are a safe person in the community.
Because you are the party filing the petition, you have the burden of proof. To meet the burden, you must show the above using “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a high standard, so you need to be prepared with the correct documentation and a strong argument. If a judge finds that you have met your burden, the law requires the judge to restore your rights. Ideally, you only experience this process one time. George Law is here to help you do it right the first time.
If you are unsure whether your felony conviction is specified or non-specified, our team of criminal defense attorneys can review the facts of your case and advise you in the direction that can restore your firearms rights as quickly as possible.
Restoring Firearms Rights At The Federal Level
Restoring firearms rights federally often requires a separate process. Under federal law, a felony is a crime that could result in over one year in prison. If your felony conviction could have resulted in more than one year up to four years or less of prison time, your focus will likely be limited to restoring rights at the federal level and not at the state level.
Under federal law, you could be charged with a crime for associations with firearms or ammunition, including shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms. A common problem arises when individuals with felony convictions attempt a gun purchase at a gun shop. Most gun shops are federally licensed. When you apply for a gun, the application is likely to include several questions, including questions about your criminal record. The Firearms Transaction Record, also known as Form 4473, specifically asks whether you have ever been convicted of a felony. The form also notifies you that anyone having a felony on their record, among other things, is prohibited from possessing or receiving a gun. The form explains that you can be charged with another felony if you lie on the form or to the dealer. After you sign the form, your application is submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS), which might show your felony conviction. Unless you can prove that your firearms rights have been restored, your application will be denied, and you could risk additional felony charges.
Criminal Expungement: A Solution To Federal Barriers
Unfortunately, a petition to restore firearms rights under Michigan law does necessarily restore rights at the federal level. Criminal expungement can be a solution. This process seals the felony on your record, almost as if it was never there. The federal government can prefer criminal expungements over state-level restoration laws, so it does not matter if your felony conviction is non-specified, resulting in automatic restoration at the state level.
Criminal expungement is a separate legal process that requires careful planning and preparation. The application process can typically begin seven years after fully completing your sentence, including parole, probation, and prison time. In 2021, Michigan implemented several laws that changed the expungement process. Some of these changes could benefit you and accelerate the process. Additional changes to the law take effect in February of 2022 and April of 2023. Our team is ready to work with you and discuss how criminal expungement might benefit you on the facts of your case.
Michigan Firearm License Restoration Lawyer
Having your firearm license restored is essential; however, the process is complex. For this reason, you should consult with an experienced Michigan license restoration lawyer. George Law is devoted to helping clients get their licenses back promptly. To learn more about how George Law can help you, reach out to us for a free consultation by calling (248) 470-4300 or contacting us online.