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Charged for a Mistake on a Gun Application? It Happens More Than You Think

Posted On: March 24th, 2020   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
man filling out form

You don’t need a permit or license to buy a gun in Ohio. But you do have to fill out ATF Form 4473. At first glance, it seems like a simple form. However, you need to read it carefully and consider all the implications. People frequently make mistakes on Form 4473, but a denial is not the worst case scenario.

In most cases, you’ll fill this form out at the business where you’re buying the firearm. You don’t print and fill it out beforehand. You should know what’s on the form before you get to the shop and be ready to answer everything fully and accurately.

If you’re not sure how to answer one or more questions on Form 4473, talk with a Columbus weapons crimes lawyer from Luftman, Heck & Associates. We’ll guide you through the document and help you avoid being wrongfully denied or worse yet charged for lying on a gun application.

Common Mistakes on Gun Applications

Buyers often make errors with questions about current or previous legal issues, such as:

  • “Are you under indictment in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?” You might have a criminal case pending. It’s important to check if it’s a felony offense or, if convicted, you could be incarcerated for more than a year.
  • “Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?” If you have a misdemeanor or unclassified conviction on your record, you must check on the possible statutory penalty. Even if you were sentenced to less than a year in prison or given probation, the question is interested in what the potential punishment could have been. However, state-level misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment of two years or less don’t count against you.
  • “Are you a fugitive from justice?” You must be confident there are no open warrants for your arrest in a state you left. A warrant could be for something as simple as unpaid child support or court fees.
  • “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” As a federal form, it’s concerned with federal law. Even if you use marijuana under Ohio’s medical marijuana law, marijuana possession and use is illegal under federal law. Don’t lie about your marijuana or other drug use.
  • “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” You might not be sure of how to answer this question if you voluntarily sought in-patient mental health treatment. This question is concerned with whether a court or other legal authority found you were mentally incompetent for a time or committed you to a mental health facility involuntarily.
  • “Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?” Another issue with past conviction is whether something, like deferred prosecution, counted as a conviction. If you faced trouble for domestic violence, talk with a lawyer about whether federal law allows you to own a gun.

Criminal Charges for an Inaccurate Firearm Purchase Application

Ohio law enforcement can arrest and charge you with a crime if you knowingly provide false or inaccurate information when trying to buy a gun or get a concealed carry permit.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2921.13(A) says you can’t knowingly make a false statement or affirm the truth of a previously made false statement during various circumstances, including when you make a statement in connection with buying a firearm or applying for a concealed handgun license (CHL).

Section 2921.13(B) says you can’t, in connection with buying a firearm, knowingly show the seller a fake or altered driver’s license, ID card, or other documentation of a false identity. Section 2921.13(C) says you can’t present fake or altered certification documents when trying to get a CHL.

Penalties for Lying on a Gun Application

Using false information to purchase a firearm is a fifth-degree felony. Giving false information to obtain a CHL is a fourth-degree felony.

If a court convicts you of a felony in the fifth degree, it can sentence you to between six and 12 months in prison and fine you up to $2,500. If a court convicts you of a fourth-degree felony, it can sentence you to between six and 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

If you don’t have any prior felony convictions and your case doesn’t involve violence, threats of violence, or other aggravating factors, then the judge can sentence you to community control, also known as probation. During community control, you’re assigned a probation officer and have to follow restrictions, including not traveling out of state, not drinking or using drugs, and remaining in school or employed.

It’s important to point out that if you’re convicted of this felony offense, you’ll no longer be able to own or possess a firearm. A felony conviction revokes your firearm rights under federal law.

Contact a Columbus Weapons Crimes Lawyer for Help

Were you arrested for a mistake on your gun purchase application? We understand a lot of gun buyers accidentally answer a question wrong. The questions are more technical than you think, and if you fail the background check, it could lead to the authorities getting involved. But you should only be charged and convicted if there’s evidence you knowingly gave false information to buy a gun. We’ll focus on proving you never intended to lie and shouldn’t be punished for a mistake.

Call Luftman, Heck & Associates at (614) 500-3836 or use our online form to schedule your free initial consultation

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2921.13
https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/Boards/Sentencing/resources/judPractitioner/felonyQuickRef.pdf
https://www.atf.gov/firearms/atf-form-4473-firearms-transaction-record-revisions
https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/4473-part-1-firearms-transaction-record-over-counter-atf-form-53009/download
https://www.thetrace.org/2015/07/gun-background-checks-nics-failure/



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