Persons convicted of felonies or violent crimes, as well as others, are prohibited from possessing owning, transporting, shipping or using firearms in the state of Minnesota. Often times there is a comparable ban at the federal level as well. This ban can be for life. Additionally, violations of this prohibition can lead to further problems with the law and felony criminal convictions which carry a fifteen (15) year maximum prison sentence and/or a $30,000.00 fine. Thankfully there are ways to restore this right and allow a person to both own and use a firearm again. In this blog we will discuss how to do so through a petition to the court.
As stated in Minnesota Statute 609.165 subdivision 1d, any person convicted of a violent crime, and subsequently prohibited from owning a firearm, can petition the court to restore their right to possess a firearm. The court may grant this petition if the person shows good cause and has been released from physical confinement. In this context the term physical confinement means completed probation or parole as opposed to released from prison. This means that once a person has completed the conditions of their sentence (probation) they are eligible to petition the court.
One risk involved with petitioning the court is if it is denied a person must wait three years to petition the court again. Ultimately, the judge will consider the unique facts of each case. Some important aspects the judge will take into consideration are: 1) does the petitioner pose a danger to the general public or persons around them?; 2) has the prohibition of the petitioner owning a firearm had a negative effect on the petitioner?; 3) has the prohibition affected the petitioners ability to protect themselves?; 4) has the prohibition affected the petitioner’s ability to obtain gainful employment or otherwise provide for themselves”; and 5) are their any other unique facts that would benefit the petitioner if the prohibition was lifted?
Ultimately the test comes down to whether or not the detrimental effect on the petitioner of not possessing a firearm outweighs the threat or danger the petitioner poses to society. If the court finds that allowing the petitioner to possess a firearm poses a high level of danger to the general public or those around the petitioner then it is very unlikely that the court will reinstate petitioners right to possess a firearm. On the other hand, if the petitioner can show the court that they do not possess a threat to the general public and those around them, and further, that not being able to own a firearm has had a negative impact on them, the court is likely to restore their right to possess a firearm.
In conclusion, restoring ones right to possess a firearm through a petition to the court is a complicated process. A lawyer experienced in this field is often times needed to help navigate the various complications and present a compelling case to the court. It is important to present the best case possible as if the petition is denied the petitioner will have to wait another three years to re-petition the court.
Derek Thooft of Thooft Law, LLC has successfully handled these cases before and has broad experience in restoring the right to possess firearms, restoration of civil rights and the expungement process. Reach out to Derek for a free consultation to discuss your chances at successfully restoring your right to possess a firearm.