Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on June 22, 2023.
Legally, no.18 U.S. Code § 922 – Unlawful acts prohibits the possession of a firearm by any felon—someone who has been “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” This restriction applies everywhere in the United States, including Indiana.
Could Visiting a Shooting Range End Up Landing You in Prison?
Simply put, felons lose their gun rights upon conviction, as well as many other civil rights. You do not have to own a gun to violate laws against possession. You just have to exercise control of one. So even renting or borrowing a gun to use at the shooting range is illegal if you have a felony conviction. It is not worth the risk to go to a gun range if you have a felony conviction. Law enforcement who may be at the range for their own purposes could recognize you, or the gun range could become suspicious of you and call the police. If you are a felon and go to a shooting range, you could end up in prison.
Can a Convicted Felon Get Their Gun Rights Back in Indiana?
Yes. The government will restore your gun rights if you go through a process known as expungement. Expungement is the procedure for getting a felony removed from your record. Although the record of it still technically exists, it is as if the felony did not happen. As a result, expungements can exponentially improve the quality of your life.
Eligibility Criteria and Steps for Expungement to Restore Gun Rights in Indiana
Generally, you meet the requirements for expungement in Indiana if you meet the waiting period requirements and are not convicted of a crime during the waiting period.
You cannot receive an expungement if your felony conviction was for homicide or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. A person classified as a sex or violent offender under Indiana law is not eligible for expungement. In addition, convictions for two or more separate incidents involving the use of deadly weapons will disqualify you from expungement.
There are different waiting periods and conditions based on the seriousness of the felony conviction. For most Class D or level 6 felonies, the waiting period is eight years from the date of conviction. For other non-serious felonies, the waiting period is also eight years, although it must have been at least three years since the end of your sentence. Serious felonies have a ten year waiting period, and it must have been at least five years since you completed your sentence.
Other requirements include:
- Paying court costs, fines, and restitution;
- Having no charges currently filed against you; and
- Having no additional convictions during the waiting period.
In the case of a serious felony, the prosecuting lawyer must also provide written consent to the expungement.
When Can a Felon Regain the Right to Carry a Gun in Indiana? What About a Rifle?
A felon can carry a gun or rifle again only once a court expunges their conviction.
Without expungement, the person convicted of a felony will not be able to legally possess a firearm again.
Can You Go to a Shooting Range If You Have an Expunged Felony in Indiana?
If your felony gets expunged, federal law no longer prohibits you from carrying a firearm (unless you have other felonies that aren’t expunged). However, Indiana law may still limit your right to carry a gun if you committed a crime involving domestic violence. An expungement will not automatically restore your right to carry a gun in this instance. Instead, you must go through a separate restoration process, which requires the court to consider facts related to domestic violence. To make sure everything is in order, it’s a good idea to consult with your attorney before going to a shooting range in Indiana again.
Do Gun Ranges Run Background Checks in Indiana? Why Do They Ask for ID?
Generally, gun ranges do not run background checks. But even if they do not, you likely must complete a waiver form. This waiver form will ask about your criminal history. Lying on this form is a bad idea. Suppose, for some reason, your felony history is discovered, and there is evidence that you are or were at a gun range. In that case, it can lead to further criminal conviction.
The gun range may ask for ID for several reasons. They may check age requirements or write down key information if something goes awry.
If you are a convicted felon, you should stay away from shooting ranges until you receive an expungement and confirm with your attorney that your gun rights have been restored.
Seeking to Restore Your Gun Rights? Contact Eskew Law, LLC Today.
Do you want to be able to possess a firearm and visit shooting ranges? At Eskew Law, our skilled and experienced expungement lawyers can bring back your full gun rights. We routinely receive high ratings from our clients due to our service. We pride ourselves on our reliability, accessibility, and trustworthiness, and we strive to simplify the legal process for you. Please contact us today to discuss how the expungement process works.