Bill description: HB 468 would alter restrictions on the right to bear arms and allow for expungement of misdemeanor convictions.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
HB 468 clarifies that felons are not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm, but other persons are. This bill exempts two groups from the current restrictions on firearm possession: 1) people convicted of crimes relating to business practices (essentially nonviolent, white-collar crimes) on the state or federal level and 2) people convicted of misdemeanors that resulted in less than two years in prison.
Thus, this bill upholds the spirit of the Idaho Constitution, which states in Article I, Section 11 that the Legislature can only establish laws regulating the right to bear arms for “the possession of firearms by a convicted felon.” The bill ensures Idaho law regulating the possession of firearms will only apply to those with felony convictions, not low-level misdemeanors.
However, this same bill removes a reference to section 18-310, Idaho Code, which specifically lists out felony convictions for which “the right to ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm shall not be restored.” Thus, instead of a list of about 35 crimes that could limit a person’s ability to possess a firearm, this bill would potentially restrict possession for any felony conviction or “crime punishable by more than one (1) year of imprisonment whether in this state or in another state.”
Thus, this bill is simultaneously clearer and murkier than current law regarding who can bear firearms.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
By clarifying that those with misdemeanor convictions retain the right to bear arms, this bill clarifies that they are not subject to the penalties imposed on those with felony convictions if they are found in possession of firearms. Specifically, they will not be charged with a felony, imprisoned for 5 years, and fined $5,000 for possession.
HB 468 also makes changes to the qualifications for an individual to receive an amended judgement, which is a change to the final judgement of a case.
For instance, the bill adds that an individual with any misdemeanor charge can apply to the court to have their sentence terminated, their case dismissed, or their judgement amended. And the court can grant such a request if there is good cause.
The bill further adds new language that allows individuals with misdemeanor convictions to ask a court to set aside their plea or conviction and dismiss their case. They may ask for this three years after their discharge if they have no prior misdemeanors or felonies, or seven years after their discharge if they do have a prior misdemeanor or felony.
Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?
HB 468 also adds a section into state law to allow individuals with misdemeanors to petition to have their misdemeanors expunged. This section does not apply to registered sex offenders, misdemeanors involving the use of force, or to individuals who were charged with an additional misdemeanor or felony at the time of their application.
Individuals cannot petition for expungement until 10 years after being discharged from their conviction. For those who are granted expungement under this section, they will likely find an easier entry into the free market — a system that can place either value or penalty on individuals with criminal convictions, especially when searching for a job or housing.