Do we have a winning case?

Q: My husband just received news that he is facing jail time, fine, etc. for an error he made when filling out the PA Handgun purchasing form 4473. He checked “no” on question 11b & 11c asking if he had a felony or a crime of over 1 year sentencing. He misunderstood the question to begin with and the misdemeanor offense in 2000 that triggered this was served as a probation and ARD program. He was told he would have no criminal record by having the ARD program. Not to mention, form 4473 is directly from 922 Brady act from 1993 (or something like that) which is expired since 93 since FBI established NICS system. This is a trap! He is innocent. He did NOT willfully or intentionally lie on the form. Why would he? He knows that they would find out if he has a record either way. There’s no point in lying! He is our family’s sole provider, he can’t go to jail.

A: The form is inherently confusing as very few people have the PA Crimes Code committed to memory when they fill out the form. I have had some success in defending these when the person has no other criminal record and the police are open to or intelligent enough to understand the confusion generated by the question. What I like about your husband’s facts is that if he received ARD, he was not even convicted! Some counties expunge all criminal arrest records after ARD and some counties do not. Perhaps the county (Dauphin) he received his ARD in did not do so and the arrest record still appeared when they ran the background check. I would look at his file in the courthouse to make sure it was an ARD disposition and order his criminal history from the PA State Police. Also, when you get through getting his charges withdrawn, you will need to expunge his old DUI and his new arrest records. (Pittsburgh, PA)

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