Gun Rights Restoration Lawyers
The Second Amendment protects your right to bear arms. If you are concerned about your firearm rights, you need to know that both state and federal law restrictions are in play – sometimes working in unison and other times at odds with each other. Nevertheless, you need to understand that these restrictions can impact your ability to lawfully possess firearms.
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. 624.713, Minnesota law prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms for various periods of time. What follows is a list of most, but not all, types of criminal offenses and convictions that will result in a loss of your firearm rights for some period of time:
- Anyone facing felony charges is prohibited from possessing firearms for the duration of the criminal matter. Often, a firearms order is issued in such a case.
- There is a lifetime prohibition for anyone convicted of a felony crime of violence. A crime of violence is defined below.
- If you are convicted of a non-crime of violence felony, your firearm rights are restored when the rest of your civil rights are restored following discharge from the sentence – except when there is a specific firearms prohibition in place.
- Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor drug crime is prohibited from possessing firearms for at least 3 years.
- Convictions for domestic assault crimes carry a minimum of a 3 year prohibition. But, if a firearm was used in any way during the commission of the assault, the prohibition period is determined by the Court, which could be for life.
- An Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order may include a firearms prohibition and this would stay in effect for the duration of the order.
The primary question, then, is what is a crime of violence for purposes of firearm rights? Minn. Stat. 624.712, subd. 5 lists what crimes and attempted crimes are considered crimes of violence. The list includes the type of offenses you’d expect (murder, manslaughter, and assault), while also including some that may not be so obvious (all drug crimes, stalking, and arson). Check the statute for the full list to determine if it applies to you.
Firearms Restoration Process
If your felony conviction is a crime of violence, the only way to get your firearm rights restored is to petition the Court under Minn. Stat. 609.165, subd. 1d. The petition can be filed in any county and doesn’t even require service on the State prosecutor – though, nearly all judges will require service of the same in order to get the State’s input. In order to prevail, you must prove to the Court that “good cause” exists and that you are no longer in confinement. If the petition is unsuccessful, you may not re-file another petition for the next three years, unless you can get court approval to do so before the three years lapse.
Good cause is undefined by statute, which leads to a wild west of sorts in firearm rights restoration litigation. The closest we get to a definition comes from a 2010 Minnesota Court of Appeals case: “a reason for taking an action that, in legal terms, is legally sufficient, and, in ordinary terms, is justified in the context of surrounding circumstances.” The Court then created a balancing test: the public safety concerns balanced against the private interest to have firearm rights restored. In doing so, the Court acknowledged that this essentially becomes an expungement analysis.
The question remains – what is “good cause”? Because it is undefined, it can be anything. After all, it is supposed to be based upon the “surrounding circumstances.” Importantly, though, courts have generally held that good cause can be established through an inability to continue hunting. Due to this ambiguity, it is important that you retain a Minnesota gun rights restoration attorney to help you get back your firearm rights. With only one shot at it every three years, it’s important that you do it right the first time.
Penalties for violating your firearms prohibition can be as little as a gross misdemeanor offense, or as high as a felony offense for violating it when the prohibition is based on a crime of violence conviction. In the latter scenario, you will face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and/or a $30,000 fine.