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Expungement, Rights, Firearm

Expungement and Restoring Firearm Rights in Indiana

If you have a past conviction for domestic violence and are looking to restore your firearm rights for activities like hunting or personal protection, understanding Indiana’s legal framework is crucial. Expungement in Indiana can restore many of your civil rights, but there are specific provisions for those with domestic violence convictions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate these legal processes.

Understanding Expungement in Indiana

Expungement can provide significant relief by sealing your criminal records and restoring your civil rights. Under Indiana Code 35-38-8-10, expunged records mean:

However, expungement does not automatically restore your right to possess a firearm if you have a domestic violence conviction.

Specific Provisions for Domestic Violence Convictions

Indiana Code 35-38-9-6(f) explicitly states that expungement of a domestic violence crime does not restore the right to possess a firearm. This right can only be restored through a separate legal process under Indiana Code 35-47-4-7.

Who is Considered a "Proper Person"?

Under Indiana Code 35-47-1-7, a "proper person" is someone who meets specific criteria, such as not having certain recent convictions, not being prohibited by court order from possessing a handgun, and not having a history of substance abuse or mental instability. For individuals with a domestic violence conviction, the statute specifies that you must have your firearm rights restored by the court to be considered a "proper person."

Process to Restore Firearm Rights

Indiana Code 35-47-4-7 outlines the procedure to restore firearm rights for individuals with a domestic violence conviction. This process involves:

  1. Petitioning the Court: You must file a petition in the court that handled your original conviction.
  2. Demonstrating Rehabilitation: Provide evidence that you have been rehabilitated and that restoring your firearm rights is in the interest of justice.
  3. Court Hearing: A hearing will be held where the court will consider your petition and any objections.

Factors the Court Considers

When determining whether to restore your right to possess a firearm, the court will consider several factors, including:

Conditions for Restoration

The court may impose specific conditions that you must meet before your firearm rights are restored. If your petition is denied, you must wait one year before filing a subsequent petition.

Automatic Restoration

Your right to possess a firearm can be automatically restored if your conviction is reversed on appeal or post-conviction review, or if the prosecuting attorney states that the charges will not be refiled.

Relevant Case Law: Interpretation and Implications

A recent case from the Court of Appeals provides further insight into how Indiana’s "proper person" statute interrelates with federal law. This case discusses the interpretation and application of these statutes, offering valuable precedents for those seeking to restore their firearm rights.

Case Summary

Federal and Indiana law both prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms. However, federal law allows for the restoration of these rights if the individual’s rights are restored in their applicable jurisdiction, in this case, Indiana. An individual lost their firearm rights after pleading guilty to Class B misdemeanor battery against their then-wife. They petitioned the trial court to restore their firearm rights, but the trial court denied the petition, incorrectly stating that relief needed to be sought in federal court.

Court's Decision

The Court of Appeals found that Indiana law allows the restoration of firearm rights through state courts, provided certain conditions are met. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings to evaluate whether the individual met the criteria under Indiana Code 35-47-4-7.

Practical Steps and Legal Assistance

Navigating the legal process to restore your firearm rights can be complex, particularly with a past domestic violence conviction. Here are some practical steps to take:

  1. Consult an Experienced Attorney: Legal guidance is essential to understand the nuances of your case and to effectively navigate the court system.
  2. Gather Evidence of Rehabilitation: Documentation of employment, community involvement, and completion of any required treatments can support your petition.
  3. Prepare for the Court Hearing: Be ready to present a compelling case that demonstrates your rehabilitation and the reasons for restoring your firearm rights.

Conclusion

Restoring your firearm rights after a domestic violence conviction in Indiana involves understanding and navigating specific legal provisions. While expungement can restore many of your civil rights, the right to possess a firearm requires a separate legal process. By consulting with an experienced attorney and preparing thoroughly, you can increase your chances of a successful petition.

Summary:

Contact Gibson Law Office today for a free consultation and legal advice on expungement and restoring your firearm rights in Indiana.