Expungement, Reduction of Felony Convictions to Misdemeanors and Restoration of Firearm Rights for Former Felons in Southern Oregon – What You Should Know
One question I get asked by people with felony convictions in their past is – how can I own a gun again? Many of them are people with felony convictions from more than 10 years in the past who just want to enjoy hunting and being in the woods with their families. Thankfully, there are a number of ways for people with felony convictions to either get those convictions expunged, treated as misdemeanors or to at least petition for the restoration of firearm rights. The legislature has actually made these processes more available to Oregonians looking to get past an older conviction.
First, for those with convictions that are more than 3 years old and are class C Felonies (or the class B Felony of Possession of Marijuana), you are eligible to have that conviction expunged and deleted from your record if you do not have any other convictions in the last 10 years and the conviction is not a traffic crime, sex crime or one of a few other exceptions to the expungement rules.
Those rules are found in ORS 137.225. If you have more than one conviction, you have to wait until it has been ten years from the second most recent conviction (i.e. if you had three Possession Convictions, one in 1996, one in 2006 and one in 2011, you would have to wait until 2016 to get them expunged since that is 10 years from the second most recent conviction). If you had multiple convictions at once, you must wait 10 years.
Expunging Your Criminal Record in Oregon
The process of expungement involves getting a motion, affidavit and order together, having them served on the DA and the Court and paying the necessary filing fees as well as getting a fingerprint card from local law enforcement to allow the DA's office to check your background. This process takes about three months from the time of the filing of the paperwork. For people with prior arrests that resulted in dismissal, expungement is usually available immediately and filing fees are waived. If you were arrested but never charged, you must wait one year from the arrest to apply for expungement. If the DA objects to expungement, there is a hearing process that allows both sides to present evidence.
Reducing The Offense To A Misdemeanor
If expungement is not available, there are a number of other avenues to restoring rights of those who have been convicted of felonies. After the successful completion of probation or post-prison supervision, most C felonies are reducible to misdemeanors (nunc pro tunc) which would alleviate the consequences of having a felony by changing the judgment to reflect only a misdemeanor conviction. If a conviction is changed to a misdemeanor nunc pro tunc, it would mean that the defendant in that case could once again own and purchase firearms.
ORS 161.705 gives the Court this authority. That process involves negotiating that motion with the DA (usually in conjunction with a positive word from the PO that successfully graduated the client from probation) and then filing a motion with the court. If the DA does not agree to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, there is once again a process for having a hearing where both sides can present evidence and argue their point.
Petitioning The Oregon Court
Finally, even if the conviction cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor, there is a process for petitioning for relief from the firearms prohibitions that affect ex-felons under ORS 166.274. This process involves filing a petition and serving it on the chief of police of local law enforcement, the DA and paying a filing fee of $252 in order to open a case for civil relief. The court sets a hearing date where the parties present evidence on the current risk of allowing the individual the right to own firearms and then has the option of granting or denying the petition. There are times when the hearing can be avoided if local law enforcement and the DA's office agree to the relief.
Contact a Second Amendment Attorney in Medford, Oregon
At the Law Office of Justin Rosas, we are experienced in protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of our local citizens and former criminal defendants. We proudly serve clients in Medford and throughout Southern Oregon. If you are seeking representation to help with an expungement, reduction of a prior conviction or a petition for relief from firearm restrictions, please contact us for a consultation and we can get the ball rolling on restoring your rights.