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Restoration of Gun Rights

Your Right To Bear Arms

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right to bear arms. If you are convicted of a felony in Minnesota, you will lose your right to possess a firearm. This loss of your right to bear arms applies not only in Minnesota, but federally as well. Because of this, you need to navigate both state and federal restrictions, which can be difficult as the two aren’t always the same. If you are interested in having your gun rights restored, it is important that you have an experienced attorney in your corner to help you navigate these often confusing waters.

State Law

Minnesota law prohibits individuals convicted of various crimes from possessing firearms for different periods of time. The list below lays out the majority of criminal offenses that result in a loss of gun rights:

  • When charged with a felony, the Defendant is prohibited from possessing a firearm while their case is pending. 
  • If convicted of a domestic assault charge, there is a mandatory 3 year loss of your right to possess a firearm. In situations where a firearm is used, the length of time is determined by the sentencing court, and could be for life. 
  • Much like being convicted of domestic assault, misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor drug convictions also prohibit the Defendant from possessing a firearm for a minimum of 3 years.
  • If convicted of a felony that is not considered a crime of violence under Minnesota law, your firearm rights are restored upon successful completion of probation, when the rest of your civil rights are restored. Once your civil rights are restored in Minnesota, they are also restored federally. There are certain situations where there are specific firearm restrictions put in place by the sentencing judge where this does not apply. 
  • If you are convicted of a felony that is considered a crime of violence, it is a lifetime loss of your gun rights. There is a lifetime prohibition for anyone convicted of a felony crime of violence. While the term crime of violence seems self explanatory, it is far from it and is discussed in more detail below. 

While there are certain offenses deemed to be crimes of violence seem like no brainers, such as murder or assault, other crimes included on the list are not so obvious: stalking, arson and the most perplexing, any felony drug conviction. That’s right, if you are convicted of a felony for merely having drugs in your possession, you lose your gun rights for life. This is why it is imperative that, when charged with any crime, you consult a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.

Firearms Restoration Process

So you’ve been convicted of felony drug possession and have now lost your gun rights for life, what now? While it is true that it is a lifetime loss, Minnesota law does allow for individuals in these situations to petition the court for reinstatement of their right to bear arms. This petition can be filed in any county in the state of Minnesota. When filing this petition, the law requires that the individual petitioning show “good cause” for why the petition be granted, and requires that the person no longer be serving a prison or jail sentence. If you can show both of these to the court, they will grant your request to reinstate your firearm rights. However, if the court denies your request, you must wait 3 years to petition the court again. This is why it is so important to have an experienced gun rights attorney when filing a petition like this.

The next question is, what is “good cause?” The answer is not so straightforward. Minnesota law does not define what constitutes good cause. It simply states that the person petitioning for their gun rights to be restored must show good cause. The Court has created a balancing test for cases like these. The judge that is deciding the petition must weigh the public safety concerns of giving the right back, against the private interest to have firearm rights restored. This is essentially the same standard that the court uses in deciding whether to grant an expungement.

This still doesn’t help in answering the question of what constitutes good cause. Because there is no definition, it can really be anything, so long as the presiding Judge agrees with it. Courts have generally held that good cause exists when there is an inability to continue hunting. Because this standard is so ambiguous, the importance of having an experienced gun rights attorney cannot be understated. This is especially true considering that if your request is denied, you must wait 3 years to try again. 

If you find yourself in a position where you have lost your right to possess firearms due to a conviction for a crime of violence, contact Cody M. Wright to set up your free consultation. Cody will sit down with you to discuss your situation, and carefully walk you through what all of your options are. An experienced gun rights attorney can make all the difference in the world when attempting to have your gun rights restored.

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