How do you get your gun rights back?
In Montana, as well as many other states, some misdemeanor criminal convictions for assault and domestic violence end up costing more than jail time and fines.
Under federal law, anyone convicted of certain types of Felony crimes, Physical Assault, such as Partner or Family Member Assault or PFMA in Montana, falls into a category of convictions prohibiting the possession of:
Even a first-time misdemeanor conviction results in the loss of gun right possession privileges in some cases. Many people find this out the hard way and were not aware of this loss of privilege prior to accepting their plea agreement.
Here’s the problem: Historically the only way to have gun rights restored under this prohibition is with a federal petition. These are almost always denied.
Montanans are passionate about gun rights
At the Judnich Law Office, our clients have many reasons for restoring their gun rights. The most common include:
- Hunting – Thousands of Montana residents hunt every year and it’s an important part of our state’s culture
- Protection – Montanans often own guns for home security or safeguarding livestock
No matter what your reason for restoring your gun rights, we can help.
Restore your gun rights with a Montana misdemeanor expungement
So, how can someone succeed in restoring their firearm and gun rights if convicted of these misdemeanor offenses? The answer may lie in the Montana expungement of misdemeanor conviction process.
In Montana, a State District Court can grant the expungement of misdemeanor criminal convictions. Note: This is not available for Felony convictions in Montana. Misdemeanor expungement of the record for PFMA and other misdemeanor assault convictions can, and are granted — even those that result in the federal prohibition of possession of firearms.
Expungement is a legal term that describes the:
- Removal & Destruction of a conviction from your criminal record
- Destruction of all associated records and even the relevant case paperwork
- Essentially all proof of the arrest and conviction is removed from your permanent record.
If your prior misdemeanor conviction is expunged in state court, it may be possible that the federal weapon prohibition is then automatically removed and destroyed as well, without the need of a separate Federal Petition.
Currently, the expungement process appears to be the only reasonable avenue to even attempt to restore a person’s Federal weapons possession rights after misdemeanor conviction.
It is important to note that a similar prohibition of possessing firearms and weapons applies to anyone convicted of a felony crime under federal and Montana law. A Montana expungement is not available for felony crimes, only misdemeanors.
Thus, the felony prohibition against the possession of firearms is not applicable for this process, only misdemeanors.
Life isn’t fair: There is no guarantee of success
There is no guarantee or promise that a misdemeanor expungement will:
- Be granted in your case. Results vary, and judges are allowed to deny an expungement Petition
- Result in the restoration of federal gun ownership rights.
Because the federal statutes regarding this prohibition apply to prior convictions and the misdemeanor expungement process is a new law in Montana, the reality of this legal process is a little murky.
It is not fully known if the federal courts will consider a person who has a misdemeanor conviction expunged to have a prior conviction. Thus, whether the expungement process then automatically removes the federal prohibition is currently legally unclear. The Judnich Law Office has contacted several Federal Prosecutors in Montana to discuss this issue and no prosecutor has been willing to commit to an answer to this question one way or another. However, the likelihood seems small that Federal authorities would push this legal issue after an expungement of record has been granted.
So you should be aware that this is a new process and the issue has not been litigated and appealed for final determination in Montana.
Contact a Montana expungement lawyer at Judnich Law Office today
Do you want to invest in your chance to restore your gun privileges following a misdemeanor criminal conviction in Montana? Please contact the Judnich Law Office for a FREE consultation with an attorney to discuss your case.
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.