Misdemeanor in one state, felony in another...

Discussion in 'Legal' started by WestKentucky, Jul 26, 2016.

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  1. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    With recent legal troubles, I have learned that the legal system is not exactly black and white. Each state essentially determines what is a felony, misdemeanor, or other offense. So if a man were to have a record in one state for a misdemeanor conviction, would that simply be a misdemeanor throughout the US or would that have to be interpreted in each jurisdiction to see if it's a felony, misdemeanor, or if it's even illegal in certain areas.

    There are apparently many of these situations possible where one state sets the limits of a misdemeanor at different levels than another, and information to this point is not easy to come by.
     
  2. deadin

    deadin Member

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    That's probably why the question usually is "Have you ever been convicted of a crime that could have resulted in incarceration of 1 year or more?"* (The standard definition of a misdemeanor)

    *or is it "more than 1 year?"
     
  3. MIL-DOT

    MIL-DOT member

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    This is a really interesting question, given how idealogical-insanity has permeated even the judicial process. I could see an applicant honestly answering "no", that he wasn't convicted of a felony (in the place he was charged with the misdemeanor), yet having the 2nd state accuse him of a false statement, saying, "but it's a felony here ", and then making a big damn federal case out of it.
    This scenario sounds entirely plausible to me, and I would've never even considered it prior to reading this thread.
     
  4. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    if a "more than one year" sentence could have been imposed

    ATF Form 4473 (pdfs Aug 2008 and Jan 2012)
    Question 11 (the "prohibited persons" question)

    b. Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?
    c. Have you ever been convicted in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?


    "An information is a formal accusation of a crime verified by a prosecutor."


    State convictions can be pardoned, expunged or set aside; if a court restores civil rights (the right to vote, to serve on a jury, to hold public office) the right to keep and bear arms is usually included.

    Locally I have heard of a guy suspected of a hotel robbery (employee, cleared by investigation) and another guy arrested as a federal fugitive (released as mistaken identity) who had to keep court dispositions of their cases: when old records were uploaded to NICS they showed suspicion and arrest. They were never convicted so there could be no pardon, expungement or set-aside. If you are in their shoes, you can file an appeal for a denial for the state BG check, or if it's federal, work with ATF to get you a special ID number for future gun purchases.
     
  5. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator Staff Member

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    That's all true. Lots of gray areas out there. And yes, each state has its own classifications for crimes.

    There's really no valid legal basis for the argument that a non-adjudicating state could reclassify an offense. If I were convicted of a misdemeanor in State A, then State A's laws control. I see nothing to suggest that any other state, such as State B, had any jurisdiction over me as a defendant, or over the crime or the criminal proceeding. Hence, State B is without power to do anything to that conviction.

    That's not to say that there can't be confusion among the states. If I move to State B, it may see something on my NCIC record and believe that it's a felony. That wouldn't make it a felony, though. If it was a misdemeanor when I was convicted, it stays a misdemeanor.
     
  6. Blackbeard

    Blackbeard Member

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    Worse than that. Something that is perfectly legal in one state can be a 10-year felony in another.
     
  7. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

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    This is why if you are ever involved in a legal action it is a good idea to get copies of all relevant documents and maintain them some place where they are readily accessible. Also, keep contact information for involved parties and keep it up to date (i.e. area code changes, etc.) in case you need to contact someone like the clerk of the court where your case was heard.
     
  8. swinokur

    swinokur Member

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    or a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of more than two years.
     
  9. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    This is especially relevant with the myriad of firearms laws that vary from state to state.


    Possibly with marijuana laws as well but I'm not sure since that is still federally illegal.
     
  10. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Just look at marijuana laws if you want a shining example of inconsistencies.
     
  11. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    Drug laws, cold check laws, DUI laws, laws relating to animals, firearms laws...all would be great examples.

    What is really scary though, is how many of these laws people don't know about. We rely on common sense and morality to keep us out of trouble without really understanding what trouble we are trying to stay out of. Furthermore, stepping into the gray areas of the law or even doing something legally which angers other folks can quickly get you a record which effects your life for the duration of the penalty plus a waiting period for expungement. Doing the right thing can (and has) cost people a whole lot in life, and can make you question a lot of things in life. It can change your life, and it can plant seeds of hatred which will haunt a man and ruin his life, even if he never sees a jail cell.
     
  12. stchman

    stchman Member

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    Now that I have read it more closely, there are MANY offenses that COULD have jail time for one year or more. A DWI/DUI could result in a prison sentence of one year.

    Now with this being said the way I read it is that IF you were even charged with a crime that COULD result in one year jail time (even if the charges were dropped or a lesser sentence), you are a prohibited person, this appears to be in the federal level. State misdemeanors do not seem to count unless it is a domestic violence conviction.

    It all seems VERY grey to me.
     
  13. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Again, according to the wording of the ATF Form 4473 (which follows the wording of the 1968 Gun Control Act--Title I of the Federal Firearms laws),
    the offense must be one for which the maximum imprisonment could have been "for more than one year". Not up to one year, not one year, but "for more than one year". That's federal restriction (state restrictions may vary).
     
  14. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator Staff Member

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    Not exactly. I've bolded a couple of things in your post to highlight them, but here's 18 USC 922, in relevant part.
    You are correct on the "could be punished by" part, but not on the "one year" part. If the term of possible incarceration exceeds one year, then you are prohibited. But notice that the person prohibited by this section must be under indictment or have been convicted.

    ETA: Dagnabbit. Carl beat me to it.
     
  15. Snyper

    Snyper Member

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    There are exceptions for "2 year misdemeanors" noted on the 4473
     
  16. swinokur

    swinokur Member

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    the exceptions being a crime with a possible sentence of less than two years. no exceptions for crimes with a sentence of MORE than two years.
     
  17. Blackbeard

    Blackbeard Member

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    To answer the OP's original question -- if you were convicted of a misdemeanor in Arizona and move to California where the same crime would have been a felony, that does not mean you have a felony record.
     
  18. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Blackbeard has answered the original question succinctly.

    The discussion about prohibits persons has been helpful.

    I'm going to take the liberty of closing this now. One of the forum moderators may change that, and should anyone have any more to add, sen any of us a PM.
     
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