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Restoring the Right to Carry Guns in Utah

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees to individuals the right to keep and bear arms. However, Utah law imposes certain restrictions on that right, and actually prohibits individuals from possessing or using handguns, rifles, shotguns or other weapons in certain circumstances. Violation of Utah weapons laws can result in criminal penalties, including felony or misdemeanor convictions and jail or prison time. But an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney may be able to help restore your gun rights. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

Gun Rights Restrictions Requiring Legal Action for Restoration

Utah Weapons Charges Defense AttorneyCertain Utah gun rights restrictions may be lifted through court action. If a person is restricted from possessing or using a firearm because of a felony conviction or domestic violence (DV) conviction, legal action through the Utah court system may restore the right to carry a firearm.

Felony Convictions and Gun Rights
A conviction for a felony in Utah will cause a person to be restricted from possessing or using a firearm. But for many felony convictions, it is not the nature of the crime but the level of the offense that creates the firearms restriction. Thus, a reduction in the level of the offense conviction (often referred to as a "402 reduction") can eliminate the weapons restriction. While a 402 reduction does not erase the conviction, it can reduce the conviction to the misdemeanor level. Once the conviction is reduced to the misdemeanor level, the the weapons restrictions created by the felony conviction may be eliminated.

Utah Domestic Violence Convictions and Gun Rights
A 402 reduction does not change underlying nature of the crime as a domestic violence offense. But under Utah law, an expungement may open the door for a restoration of gun rights.

Felony Domestic Violence Convictions - An Apparent Legal Dilemma
Domestic violence convictions at the felony level present a more complex issue in regard to restoring the right to possess or use firearms. Because the "domestic violence" status by itself status results in a weapons possession restriction, a 402 reduction of the felony will not restore gun rights. But because Utah law prohibits the expungement of a "violent" felony, a domestic violence felony conviction cannot be expunged.

For many people, this apparent dilemma can be resolved by first obtaining a 402 reduction of the felony domestic violence conviction. Once the domestic violence conviction is reduced to the misdemeanor level, it is no longer classified as a "violent felony" conviction and may then be eligible for expungement. Once fully expunged, the domestic violence conviction should no longer create a restriction on weapons possession.

Utah Weapons Restrictions not Requiring Legal Action

Utah law places certain restrictions on the right to carry, possess, or use a weapon that can be cured without legal action. These restrictions can be based on drug or alcohol use or on a juvenile adjudication record.

Restrictions on weapon possession are triggered if a person is "an unlawful user of a controlled substance" or if the person possesses a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. However this restriction is not permanent, and should be lifted if the person stops using drugs illegally.

Utah law also makes it a crime to possess a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) if the person is under the influence of alcohol or of a controlled substance. Utah Code section 76-10-528 provides that the term "under the influence" as meaning the same blood or breath alcohol concentration as provided under Utah's DUI statute (Utah Code section 41-6a-502). This prohibition on possessing or carrying a weapon applies even if the person has a valid concealed weapons permit.

One additional weapons possession restriction does not involve the use of drugs or alcohol, but is instead can be based on a person's juvenile record. A juvenile adjudication of delinquency for an offense that would have been a felony if committed by an adult will also create restrictions for the person even after becoming an adult. This restriction can be lifted through a successful petition to expunge the juvenile record. Or the restriction will automatically expire after 10 years have passed since the juvenile adjudication.

Permanent Weapons Rights Restrictions in Utah

There are still other restrictions on gun or weapon possession under Utah law that generally cannot be cured. This non-exhaustive list of possible restrictions includes: dishonorable discharge from the armed forces; renouncement of United States citizenship; mental incompetence or defect; or status as an alien illegally present in the United States.

Finding a Utah 402 Reduction and Expungement Lawyer in Salt Lake City

If you are under a restriction from possessing, using, or carrying a weapon in Utah that is based on a prior criminal conviction, an expungement or 402 reduction may be helpful in restoring your gun rights and other weapons-related rights. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard has assisted many clients in obtaining an expungement or 402 reduction of their convictions.

If you need assistance in reducing the level of your conviction or in expunging your Utah criminal record, contact us today. In many cases, we can tell you over the phone whether you are eligible.

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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Expungement - Worked to restore client's expungement eligibility through 402 reduction process, then filed successful expungement petitions in multiple courts obtaining expungement orders and clearing client's official criminal history.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahProbation - Client charged with aggravated robbery based on allegations he entered a store with a gun and mask and demanded cash. Client confessed to police before hiring a defense attorney. Defense mitigation efforts resulted in a negotiated resolution that removed life in prison as a possibility, and secured a probation sentence from the court.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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