If My Rights to Purchase and Possess a Firearm Have been Revoked, Can My Rights be Restored?
Yes, they can be, in certain circumstances. Michigan law provides certain circumstances under which firearms rights may be restored, even if you have felony convictions on your record. The time you must wait to petition the county circuit court for restoration of your rights depends upon the crimes you were convicted of. A circuit judge must find by a standard of clear and convincing evidence that you meet all of the requirements of the restoration statute.
The general rule in Michigan is that people convicted of certain crimes (felonies and certain misdemeanors such as Domestic Violence) are prohibited from possessing, using, transporting, selling, purchasing, carrying, shipping, receiving, or distributing a firearm or ammunition. However, Michigan law permits people who have convictions to petition the circuit court in the county in which they reside for a restoration of their rights after a certain amount of time. Exactly what crime you were convicted of determines how long you must wait to petition the court for restoration. And if you have had your conviction expunged or set aside, the wait times do not apply to you, and you should be able to have firearms and ammunition unless the expungement order specifically states that you may not have firearms or ammunition despite the expungement.
What Do I Have to Do and How Long Do I Have to Wait to File a Petition?
There are two types of felonies which are addressed by the law. The first group is felonies of any kind which carry a maximum 4-year prison penalty. With 4-year felonies, you must wait 3 years after you have paid all fines and costs, served all of the jail time imposed, and completed all conditions of probation or parole. In these cases, your right to possess firearms under Michigan law is automatically restored; however, your rights under federal law are not restored. Many people elect to go through court for restoration even if their rights have been automatically restored so that they can have a court order proving their restoration and to keep with their firearm. This can prevent an arrest by an uninformed police officer or having to defend a felony charge in court.
The second, sub-category of felonies are called “specified felonies.” These are felonies which are especially serious and the legislature decided to make the wait longer. These specified felonies are those where: 1) an element of the felony is the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against a victim, 2) an element of the felony is manufacturing, delivering, or possession with intent to deliver controlled substances, 3) an element of the felony is the unlawful possession or distribution of a firearm, 4) an element is unlawful use of an explosive, 5) the felony is burglary of an occupied dwelling or breaking into the same.
If you are convicted of a “specified felony,” you must wait 5 years to petition the court for restoration of your firearm rights. You also must have paid all fines and costs, served all of the jail time imposed, and completed all conditions of probation or parole.
Do I need an Attorney to Petition the Court for a Restoration of My Firearm Rights?
You don’t technically have to have an attorney to petition the court, but as a practical matter, the law is complicated, and you would have a slim chance of succeeding on your own. There are many items you must have in your petition according to the statute, and if any of them are missing your petition will be denied. Courts are very leery to begin with of restoring the firearm rights of convicted felons. It is not a stretch of the imagination to think that courts may in some cases be looking for a reason to deny your petition. And if you say the wrong thing in court, you may torpedo your chances on the spot, even if you filed and pleaded all the right things. And if you are not successful, and you end up violating the law, the penalty is a felony punishable by 5 years in prison or $5,000.00 or both. It is really worth the expense of hiring a lawyer with experience in restoring your rights.
There is No Federal Firearms Restoration
Restoration of your firearms rights under Michigan law is not recognized by the federal government. This means that even though your rights to possess firearms under Michigan law may have been restored, you can still be prosecuted by the federal government for being a felon in possession of a firearm. For those individuals who seek and obtain restoration, they would not want to be in the possession of a firearm at any time they may potentially have contact with federal law enforcement. Even a state law enforcement officer can refer someone for prosecution by the federal government under certain circumstances. Additionally, you will not be able to legally purchase a pistol in Michigan because you will not be able to get a purchase permit, which requires passing a federal firearms background check.
Firearms Rights Restoration Attorneys
You definitely do not want to hire just any lawyer to file your petition. You do not want to hire a real estate lawyer or personal injury lawyer, for example, to file for you. Although they may do an adequate job, the operative words are “may” and “adequate.” You want an expert attorney who is well-trained in criminal law to handle your petition. Why a criminal lawyer? Because the laws governing firearm restoration are criminal-law-based laws.
The cost in terms of legal fees for firearms rights restoration cases generally starts at $3,500.00.
The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality representation and for being among the most persuasive advocates. We can guide you expertly and seamlessly through the firearm restoration process. If $3,500 is within your budget as a retainer, call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.
“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!“
– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.