My husband just received news that he is facing jail time, fine etc for an error he made when filling out the PA Handgun purchasing form 4473. He checked "no" on question 11b & 11c asking if he had a felony or a crime of over 1 year sentencing. He misunderstood the question to begin with and the misdemeanor offense in 2000 that triggered this was served as a probation and ARD program. He was told he would have no criminal record by having the ARD program. Not to mention, form 4473 is directly from 922 Brady act from 1993 (or something like that) which is expired since 93 since FBI established NICS system. This is a trap! He is innocent. He did NOT willfully or intentionally lie on the form. Why would he? He knows that they would find out if he has a record either way. There's no point in lying! He is our family's sole provider, he can't go to jail!
Truly misunderstanding a question and answering with what he truly believed was an honest answer is not criminal. The prosecutor would need to show that he knew he was not being truthful. Whether or not they can do that is impossible to say at this point. We know nothing other than what you say here. Your husband needs an attorney.
Your husband is in deep trouble. He should speak with and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney ASAP. In any case, he should say nothing to the police or any investigator without speaking to an attorney first. Your comments about being trapped, the Brady Act, as well as your thoughts regarding the FBI and NCIC are off the mark.
Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence. These forms are often complicated. Whether your husband has a defense is very dependent on the details of his prior case in 2000 and any statements he may have given to the police after filling out the background form. This is a serious matter and he should consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Many people incorrectly complete this form. The wording can be confusing. I suggest contacting an attorney. Because this is such a common occurrence, the Commonwealth is often open to plea negotiations.
The form is inherently confusing as very few people actually have the PA Crimes Code committed to memory when they fill out the form. I have had some success in defending these when the person has no other criminal record and the police are open to or intelligent enough to understand the confusion generated by the question. What I like about your husband's facts is that if he received ARD, he was not even convicted! Some counties expunge all criminal arrest records after ARD and some counties do not. Perhaps the county (Adams) he received his ARD in did not do so and the arrest record still appeared when they ran the background check. I would look at his file in the courthouse to make sure it was an ARD disposition and order his criminal history from the PA State Police. Also, when you get through getting his charges withdrawn, you will need to expunge his old DUI and his new arrest records.
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