Federal law specifically makes it a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison for any person who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to possess a firearm. The person does not have to actually be sentenced to a year or more in prison, it is enough that the person was convicted of a crime for which the maximum penalty exceeded one year. (A crime with a sentence of more than one year is the definition of a "felony" in most jurisdictions.).18 USCS A? 922(g).
The federal government regularly prosecutes these crimes.
Often local police will turn these cases over the federal officials to prosecute because the elements of the crime are so simple. All they have to show is that the defendant was convicted and had a firearm.
What Can You Do if the Conviction Was in State Court
Fortunately, the law specifically excludes "any conviction which has been expunged, or set aside or for which a person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored shall not be considered a conviction for purposes of this chapter, unless such pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms." 18 USCS A? 921(a)(20)(B). So if under the laws of the state of conviction, allow you to get your rights restored, you can do so and be able to possess a firearm.
What Can You Do if the Conviction Was in Federal Court
Unfortunately, it is extraordinarily hard to get federal convictions expunged. Unless there was some defect in the conviction itself, the only way to clear your record obtain a presidential pardon through the U.S. Department of Justice Pardon Attorney. The process takes years and is often unsuccessful.
A Convicted Felon Cannot Use A Firearm Owned by Another Person
A convicted felon may not possess a firearm even if it is owned by another person. Some people believe that it is okay to use a firearm in another person's name. That won't work. It is not a defense that the person didn't own the firearm if he or she possessed it. In fact, the government may charge that the person possessed a firearm belonging to her or his spouse in their home or car.
THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
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