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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27749
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Was arrested more than 10 years ago in Mass.for possession

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Was arrested more than 10 years ago in Mass.for possession of heroin, (I lived then and now in N.H.) Got a sentence of 1 year probation with 6 months random drug testing and monthly P.O. visits. Never failed a test or missed P.O. visits. Also got a job and went back to college during this time. That was my one and only arrest ever. Since then, no issues with any law enforcement. Because of my lack of being in trouble with the law I was under the assumption that when my probation was over, and staying out of trouble, my record was "clean". Recently I went to buy a shotgun for home protection in N.H. and was told there was a "delayed denial". So I've spent the last day online finding out that I was in more trouble than I thought back then. MY QUESTION; Does this mean I can never buy/own a gun, in N.H. or anywhere else, because of a stupid mistake made years ago?
Hello Jacustomer,

A felony conviction, regardless of the penalty imposed will cost you your state and federal gun rights.

To restore your firearms privilege you will need an annulment of your felony or a pardon from the governor. If your conviction was more than 10 years ago, and if you have not been in further trouble with the law during that time, you should be eligible to apply for an annulment.

You would need to petition the judge in the court where you were originally convicted. Annulments are discretionary, meaning that the judge does not have to grant one and, generally you can expect the prosecutor to oppose the petition. If the petition fails, there's a three-year waiting period before you can try again.

For those reasons, even though you don't technically need an lawyer in order to seek an annulment, your best chance of obtaining one would be with a lawyer. Once you get the annulment and the state restores your gun rights, the Federal government should lift its bar as well.

There are lawyers who specialize in pardons, expungements and restoration of rights, and that's probably your best bet here.

Good luck!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So it doesn't matter where I live or where I am trying to purchase the gun, my only concern should be dealing with the state I was arrested in?

What if the people I live with have rifles in the house, (they do)? Even though I never handle them, should they or myself be concerned with the law?

Hi Stephen,

You have to go back to where you first got the felony to take care of this, because the state and Federal disability preventing you from having fireams is a New Hampshire problem. However, the bar against your being able to possess a firearm would follow you in every state or US territory until you get your NH and Federal rights restored.

Until then you are not to have anything to do with firearms. Just being around them could get you charged with a felony if the police have any occasion to find out about them.. So tell your friends to get the rifles out of the house, because even though you don't handle them, if you are in a position to be able to do so, you are at risk.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Last question/s. When you use the word "disability" do you mean law? And you wrote that it is a N.H. problem. Is this true even though I was arrested/convicted in Massachusetts, (I live right on the border in New Hampshire)?

Thank you in advance.

Hello Stephen,

There was no reference to this being a Massachusetts arrest. This does make something of a difference, not in terms of the disability (yes, I meant the legal impediment keeping you from your gun rights) but in terms of what you can do to relieve it. Massachusetts is much tougher when it comes to restoration of rights.

In Massachusetts, you cannot own or possess a firearm anywhere other than in one's home or place of business without a Firearm Identification Card. Nor can you purchase a firearm or ammunition without a Card. Massachusetts will not allow a felon to apply for a Firearm Identification Card until five years after his conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 140, 5 129B.

If you were to get the Firearm ID Card, that would not allow you to possess a handgun. For the handgun would need to get a license to carry, for which, depending upon the offense for which you were convicted, you may not be eligible. Although a rifle would be legal under massachusetts law with just the Firearm ID Card, the Federal government will not restore your Federal rights until state has restored them in full. Since Federal law trumps state law, partial restoration of your gun rights = no rights at all.

An unconditional gubernatorial pardon, if you can get it, will make you eligible to apply for either a Firearm Identification Card or a license to carry, and that's what you would need to go for to get your full gun rights back in Massachusetts, along with your Federal rights. You don't need a lawyer to apply for a pardon. You can find more information about it and how to apply for one here.

I'm sorry for being the bearer of bad news.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"Was arrested more than 10 years ago in Mass.for possession of heroin"


I apologize for the misspelling. I will try to give the best information I can.


Over 10 years ago I was arrested in Massachusetts for heroin possession. At the time I was living in New Hampshire. I still live in New Hampshire. Two days ago I tried to purchase a shotgun in New Hampshire and was denied. I am fully aware of the strict gun laws in Massachusetts. I am not trying to buy a gun in Massachusetts or bring one into Massachusetts. I just want to be able to buy/own a gun in New Hampshire for home defense and maybe even clay target shooting. What, if any, recourse do I have to be able to legally purchase a gun anywhere in the U.S.A.?


That's my error. I missed the Massachusetts reference and focused on the fact that you'd always lived in New Hampshire.

As I have said above, Massachusetts is tough, and only an unconditional pardon from the governor of Massachusetts will restore your state and Federal firearms rights. Without that you have no second amendment rights in New Hampshire or anywhere else in this country.

Although you could just apply for a firearm Identification card, without the pardon you would only be able to get your rights to purchase a rifle. For the rest you'd need an unconditional pardon from the governor.

As far as the rifle is concerned, while Massachusetts won't care about that, the Federal government does not recognize the partial restoration of gun rights. Without your full MA rights being restored, since Federal law trumps state law, you have no gun rights anywhere. You can find out more about a pardon in MA here.

Apart from that you have no recourse. Unfortunately, each state decides its restoration of rights policies for itself. In some states it is fairly easy to get gun rights back. In others like mine, or yours, once gone, they are only very rarely able to be restored.

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