Your application for a Firearms Purchaser Identification (NJ FID) card has just been denied. What do you do now? Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ suggest that you have five options. Note that you are not limited to just one of those five. Selection of some combination of those options will often produce the best outcome.
Here are the five:
- Talk it Out with the Chief;
- “Cure” the Reason for the Denial;
- Appeal the FID Denial;
- Abandon the FID application;
- Reapply for Your FID Card.
Talk it Out with the Chief
FID denials occasionally arise from a misunderstanding. Perhaps the chief was expecting something that never arrived. Perhaps the chief misinterpreted something in your application. A friendly conversation with the chief can sometimes clarify the misunderstanding and produce an FID card.
“Cure” the Reason for the Denial of the FID Card
The statute that governs issuance of the New Jersey FID card is N.J.S. 2C:58-3c. That statute says that when the applicant for a New Jersey FID is of good character and good repute, his or her application shall be granted unless some statutory disqualification exists. N.J.S. 2C:58-3c then proceeds to list statutory disqualifications. N.J.S. 2C:58-3c contains nine numbered sections. Some of those sections have several subparts.
Some of the N.J.S. 2C:58-3c disqualifications are of a permanent nature: They never lend themselves to cure. One example of this may be found in N.J.S. 2C:58-3c(3). One provision in -3c(3) disqualifies anyone who suffers from a physical defect that makes it unsafe for him to handle firearms. A person who is permanently blind might fall into that category. Other conditions that might be permanently disqualifying are Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
By way of contrast, some -3c disqualifications can be cured. One example is the disqualification contained in -3c(1). N.J.S. 2C:3c(1) precludes issuance to any applicant who has been convicted of a crime. But in many cases, convictions for crimes can be expunged. N.J.S. 2C:52-27 states that the effect of having a conviction expunged is that the conviction shall be deemed “not to have occurred.” Commitments to mental health facilities, both voluntary and involuntary, can also be expunged. Domestic violence restraining orders can be vacated. You may then complete their NJ FID application form accordingly. With regard to expungement of criminal convictions, Question 20 on S.T.S. 033, the New Jersey State Police application form for the Firearms Purchaser Identification Card, explicitly asks only about criminal convictions that have not been expunged or sealed. Similarly, Question 17 on that form asks only about existing domestic violence restraining orders.
We put the word “cure,” in the heading above, in quotation marks. Our reason for doing so is that sometimes the reason given for the denial of the application is, in fact, not a valid reason to begin with. When the stated reason is itself invalid, there is nothing to cure. Regardless, you may be able to address that stated reason and thus satisfy the reviewer that the FID application should be approved. Whether the denial is valid or invalid, if you are unable to eliminate the reason for the denial, it becomes necessary to consider your remaining options.
Appeal the Denial of Your FID Application
If your application for a New Jersey FID card has been denied, you can appeal that denial. The appeal is made to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, in the county where you live. The statute that governs this appeal process is N.J.S. 2C:58-3d. N.J.S. 2C:58-3d does not actually use the word “appeal.” Rather, the expression it uses is “request a hearing.” It is the same thing.
You must request the hearing in writing, but it need not be formal. It must be made within thirty days of the denial. You must provide a copy of the request to the police chief in the town where you live. There is no filing fee.
The court is “required ” to conduct a hearing within thirty days of receipt of the request. (Do not hold your breath.) The Law Division memorializes its ruling in a formal document called an “Order.” Any party dissatisfied with the outcome of the hearing can appeal further. That further appeal would be to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. The appeal must be filed within forty-five days of the the Law Division's Order. In contrast to the initial request for a hearing, this further appeal does have to be formal. Specific rules of appeal must be observed. It is a very involved procedure.
Abandon the Application for the FID Card
Abandoning the application guarantees non-issuance of the New Jersey FID card. Occasions will arise, however, where abandonment is the logical response. One such occasion is where the reason for the denial is valid, and the disqualifying event is one that you cannot cure. For example, you may have been convicted of a crime that cannot be expunged. Examples of such crimes are arson, robbery, and false swearing. Numerous others exist. (But take a look at the Plan B page on www.NJExpungements.com.)
Another such occasion might be where the disqualifying event might be cured, but obtaining the cure is uncertain, and you lack the necessary resources to make the effort. Even where resources are available, whether to apply those resources to appealing, or curing, is a decision that must consider competing demands for those resources. It may be a difficult decision.
Reapply for your FID Card
Your final option is to reapply. Why reapply, you ask, when your new application would go to the same person that previously said “No”? Wouldn't that person just say “no” all over again? The answer is perhaps, but sometimes applying again makes perfect sense.
One situation where reapplying makes sense is where the original denial was for a legitimate (or illegitimate) reason, but that reason has been cured. For example, the original denial may have been on account of a previous criminal conviction, but then you got that conviction expunged. A second legitimate reason is that the original denial was for a reason that you disagree with, but you let the thirty-day appeal deadline pass. Applying for your FID card again and getting a new denial gives you a new thirty-day window in which to request a hearing.
Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™
Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ can assist with any of the options mentioned above. Obviously no lawyer is needed to abandon the application. Even for that option, however, Gun Lawyers in New Jersey™ can provide helpful perspective on whether abandonment is the option that is best for you.
Allan Marain |
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