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Expungement & The Restoration of Gun Ownership Rights

Expungement & The Restoration of Gun Ownership Rights

How to regain your civil rights following an arrest or conviction

When you have an offense on your record, life can be challenging. It can be hard to find a job, and your civil rights might be restricted. However, thanks to a sweeping expungement law the state of Indiana passed in 2013, you don’t have to be defined by a past mistake. You can start over with a clean slate and restore your civil rights, including the rights to vote, serve on a jury, and own a firearm.

Do I qualify for an expungement?

We’ve talked about expungement before, so you might remember that Indiana’s expungement statute—also known as the Second Chance Law—applies to a majority of convictions. You might want to consider an expungement if you were:

  • arrested, but not convicted,
  • convicted of a misdemeanor, or
  • convicted of a qualifying felony.

The rules

Before you petition for expungement, there are a few things you need to do.

First, you must wait for a pre-determined period of time from the date of conviction or arrest (which varies, depending on the crime’s severity). Let’s say you were arrested, but were never charged with a crime. In that situation, you must wait one year before you can petition for expungement. But if you were convicted, you will need to wait five years on a misdemeanor (or Class D felony/Level 6 felony reduced to a misdemeanor) or eight to 10 years on certain felonies, depending on the severity and type of offense.

During the waiting period, you must not be convicted of another crime. Also, it is essential that you have no additional charges pending against you. And before you petition, make sure you have paid any fines, fees, and court costs.

If your petition for expungement is granted, you should be treated as if you were never convicted. Employers cannot discriminate against you based on your expunged conviction and, for misdemeanors and most minor felonies, your records are sealed from the public. What’s more, your civil rights are restored—you can vote, hold public office, and serve as a juror. You also regain the right to own and possess a firearm.

The restoration of gun ownership rights

As you are going through the restoration process, keep in mind that your right to purchase and own a firearm is governed by both Indiana law and federal law. Federal law states that any conviction that has been expunged cannot be considered a conviction for purposes of the federal statute. The U.S. Department of Justice also concluded that Indiana’s expungement statute is sufficient in removing the federal firearms prohibition in the Gun Control Act.

What does this mean?

It means that, in Indiana, your firearms rights are restored following an expungement; however, there is one exception: If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony involving domestic violence, your firearm rights cannot be restored through an expungement. Instead, you must pursue a separate statutory procedure to request a restoration.

If you are considering an expungement and have questions about your firearm rights, please contact Kyle E. Cray at 765-742-9066.

The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.

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