Is your current or past criminal offense affecting your ability to get into the deer stand this year?

***Notice: This article is not intended to be legal advice.  Every criminal case has its own set of unique circumstances. If you have questions about your specific case contact your attorney.  If you do not have an attorney call for a free consultation***

It’s that time of year again to unpack your blaze orange and dust off your shotgun or rifle.  Time to get outside and weather the elements in the hopes of harvesting that trophy buck you’ve been eyeing in your trail camera for months.  This is undoubtedly an exciting time for many hunters in the state of Minnesota.  With that being said, do you know if your pending criminal case is affecting your ability to possess a firearm?  Have you recently been convicted of a crime? Do you know if that conviction prohibits you from possessing a firearm?  This article provides a general overview on how criminal offenses can affect your ability to possess a firearm.  The information contained in this article can generally be found under Minnesota Statute Section 624.713.

Pre-Conviction Release Condition Prohibition

After you are arrested and charged with a crime you will have to appear in front of a judge.  The judge will have to determine what conditions are appropriate for you to follow before you are released from custody.  When imposing conditions, one of the judge’s primary considerations is your risk to public safety.  The judge has the authority to impose really any reasonable condition.  But, when it comes to crimes involving harm inflicted on other persons or family members it is common for a judge to restrict your access to firearms.  This may include: prohibiting your from possessing a firearm; prohibiting you from living at a residence where firearms are present; and/or requiring you to surrender your firearms to law enforcement while your case is pending.

In addition, if you are charged with a felony level offense you will almost certainly been prohibited from possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm.  In any event, the court is required to inform you of your conditions of release.  Any violation of those conditions will require you to go back to court and could result in increased conditions, increased bail, or that you be in jail while your case is pending.

Crimes Against A Person Domestic Violence Any Felony-Level Offense
Abuse and Neglect
Domestic Assault
Violation No Contact Order
Violation Order for Protection
In particular when charged with a
“crime of violence.”
(Referenced below under lifetime ban)

Three Year Prohibition

Any person convicted of the crimes listed below is prohibited from possessing a firearm for three years.  The three year time period begins to run on the date of your conviction.  It is important to understand that this three year prohibition is conditioned on the fact that you are not convicted of a new same or similar offense during that time period.  If you are convicted of a new offense then you will have to face the specific gun prohibitions for that offense – negating the previous three year prohibition.

Certain Gross Misdemeanor Convictions Domestic Assault Drug Conviction
section 609.229 (crimes committed for the benefit of a gang); 609.2231, subdivision 4 (assaults motivated by bias); 609.255 (false imprisonment); 609.378 (neglect or endangerment of a child); 609.582, subdivision 4 (burglary in the fourth degree); 609.665 (setting a spring gun); 609.71 (riot); or 609.749 (stalking). After the three years, must have no new related convictions including those in column one. Any misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor violation of Chapter 152 (Drug Crimes).

Indeterminate Prohibition

In some instances, the length of time that you are prohibited from possessing a firearm is left to the discretion of the court.  A common instance is when you are convicted of a felony (other than a “crime of violence”).  In this circumstance, you are prohibited from possession a firearm until you fulfill the terms of your sentence, are discharged, and your civil rights are restored.  In addition, any person subject to a No Contact Order or Order For Protection cannot possess a firearm while the order is in place.

Another instance is when two facts are present: (1) you are convicted of assaulting a “family or household member”; AND (2) the court finds that a firearm was used “in any way” during the commission of the assault.  “Assault” and “family or household member” are specifically defined under Minnesota law (referenced below).  The second factor is very broad.  The court has the discretion to determine a firearm was used during the offense, which in some cases could mean mere presence.

Under Minnesota Statute Section 609.02, subd. 10, an “Assault” is:
(1) an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
(2) the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.

The statutory definitions of “Family or household members” are:
(1) spouses and former spouses;
(2) parents and children;
(3) persons related by blood;
(4) persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past;
(5) persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time;
(6) a man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time; and
(7) persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.

Lifetime Prohibtion

Felony Crime of Violence (Adult and Juvenile) Illness A Person Who Is:
Crimes of Violence includes:
Murder; Manslaughter; Assault; Criminal Sexual Conduct;
Robbery; Burglary; Terroristic Threats; Stalking;
Controlled Substance Crimes; and more.
Judicial Commitment For Mental Illness;
Chemically Dependent;
Unlawful User of Controlled Substance.
Fugitive from Justice;
In U.S. Illegally;
Dishonorable Discharge from Military;
Renounced Citizenship from U.S.

Gun Rights Restoration

If you are subject to a lifetime ban from firearms possession all hope is not lost.  There are remedies available that can restore your right to possess a firearm.  Most often you will have to petition the court asking for your right to be restored.  In that petition you will have to show good cause — meaning why you are not dangerous to public safety and why you need to possess a firearm (i.e. hunting, employment, personal protections, etc…).  The court will typically consider the circumstances of the offense and what you have done to rehabilitate yourself since.  If the court denies your request, you will have to wait three years to try again.

If you have lost your right to possess a firearm in Minnesota, call Tom today at 651-455-1555 or send a request for more information to schedule a time to answer your questions at no charge to you. Tom can help you determine the appropriate course of action.