Restoring Your Firearm Rights After Being Convicted of a Felony

0_0_0_0_250_187_csupload_58231417 (1)If you have been convicted of a felony in Michigan, you automatically lose your right to possess, use, transport, sell, purchase, carry, ship, receive, or distribute a firearm under MCL 750.224f. You can get that right back if certain conditions are met. How long you have to wait and the procedure for getting this right restored depends on the type of felony you were convicted of.
 

Specified vs Non-Specified Felonies

 

A felony means a violation or attempted violation of: any Michigan law, the law of another state, or any United States law that is punishable by at least four years imprisonment. For purpose of this statute there are two types of felonies: specified and non-specified.
 

Specified Felony

 

A specified felony means a felony in which one or more of the following exist:
  • an element of the felony is use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or that by its nature involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
  • an element of the felony is the unlawful manufacture, possession, importation, exportation, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance
  • an element of the felony is the unlawful possession or distribution of a firearm
  • an element of the felony if the unlawful use of an explosive
  • the felony is burglary of an occupied dwelling, or breaking and entering an occupied dwelling, or arson

Non-specified Felony

 

A non-specified felony is any other felony that is not a specified felony.
 

Firearm Restoration After a Non-specified Felon

 

If you have been convicted of a non-specified felony your right to possess a firearm will automatically be re-instated three years after the following conditions are met:
  • all fines imposed for the violation have been paid
  • all terms of imprisonment, if any, have been served
  • probation or parole for the offense has been successfully completed
 
The three-year clock starts ticking once the final condition of your sentence has been met.
 

Firearm Restoration After a Specified Felony

 

If you have been convicted of a specified felony, your rights will be restored when  the circuit court in the county you reside grants your application for firearm rights restoration AND at least five years have passed since the following conditions were met:
  • all fines imposed for the violation have been paid
  • all terms of imprisonment, if any, have been served
  • probation or parole for the offense has been successfully completed

 

Applying to the Circuit Court

 

For specified felonies you  must apply to have your firearm rights re-instated to the circuit court no earlier than five years after the final condition of your sentence has been met. No more than one application per calendar year can be submitted.
For the court to grant your application, you must convince the judge by clear and convincing evidence of all of the following:
  • you properly submitted your application for restoration
  • you successfully completed all terms of your sentence and at least five years has passed since the last condition of your sentence was met
  • your record and reputation are such that you are not likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to the safety of others

 

Federal Firearm Rights Have No Reinstatement
Currently, the federal system does not have a process for convicted felons to get their federal firearm rights back, even if a circuit court or gun licensing board in Michigan restored your rights under state law. The circuit court (formerly the gun boards) only has the power to restore your firearm rights under Michigan law. That means if your rights are reinstated, then you can lawfully use, possess, or own a firearm under Michigan law. You don’t have to worry about being charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. However, you could still be charged federally as a felon in possession of a firearm under federal law if you come into contact with the feds or if the state or local police detain you under suspicion of violating federal law. There has been pending legislation introduced in the federal congress for certain non-violent felons to get their federal firearm rights restored, but as of now it has not passed by houses nor signed by the president into law. So, be cautious that the remedy the Michigan circuit court can grant you is a limited one.
Expungement
The best option is to get your felony expunged that is holding you back. If the felony is expunged or set aside, your firearm rights are reinstated across the board (both state and federally) because the conviction is removed. However, not everyone is eligible to get a felony expunged so you need to check eligibility. If not, then your only other option is to apply for limited relief from a Michigan circuit court.