Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is a sealed criminal record considered in applying for a firearms license?

A sealed criminal record in Massachusetts does not mean the record is sealed for all purposes.  While a potential employer would not be able to view a sealed record, there are exceptions.  One example of an exception is for a "legitimate law enforcement purpose."

Even if your criminal record is sealed, an application for a firearms license in Massachusetts is deemed to be a "legitimate law enforcement purpose", and the reviewing agency would be able to see that there is a sealed record.

In addition, if the sealed record were a conviction for a disqualifying crime, you would remain ineligible by statute to obtain a license.  In addition, if the conviction is not an automatic disqualifier, the existence of that sealed record (and police records pertaining thereto) may still be used by the issuing department to address the issue of the applicant's suitability for a LTC.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Can I qualify for a License to Carry if I've been arrested?

In Massachusetts, only certain criminal convictions are deemed to be disqualifications under M.G.L. c. 140 s. 131.  However, if you are arrested or charged with certain crimes, such as assault and battery, the licensing officer in your town may still consider this in determining an applicant's suitability for a license.

Firearms licensing (with respect to the License to Carry Firearms) in Massachusetts utilizes a two-prong test, and grants significant discretion to the chief law enforcement officer as to whether the license will issue.  Although the offence will not disqualify you as a matter of law under s. 131, the existence of the record and the underlying incident may be considered by the chief as evidence of "unsuitability", which could result in the denial of an LTC/A.

Should the license be denied, you may be able to appeal the denial within 90 days to the local district court.  (M.G.L. c. 140 s. 131).

Additionally, depending on the age of the criminal record, and the circumstances of the case, you could consider applying for a Massachusetts Firearm Identification Card.  The FID will only permit you to posses non-high capacity rifles and shotguns (no handguns), but such license must be issued by the chief law enforcement officer if the applicant is not statutorily disqualified from obtaining said FID.  (See M.G.L. c. 140 s. 129B).  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to avoid Objections to a Bankruptcy Petition.

A significant majority of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filings are completed without any significant problems to the Debtor or objection by Creditors, provided the Debtor (and their counsel) properly and accurately discloses all necessary information required by the bankruptcy laws. However, the bankruptcy laws provide the grounds for creditors to object to the discharge of debts (meaning you will still owe the debt, even after filing bankruptcy) under certain circumstances.

If a creditor objects to the discharge of any of the debts listed in your petition or schedules, such objection must be raised within 60 days after the first scheduled §341(a) Meeting of Creditors. Alternatively, the trustee must move to dismiss your case within the 60-day period following the §341(a) Meeting of Creditors if he or she finds that the granting of relief would be an abuse of the provisions of Chapter 7.

So, what are traps to avoid objections to my petition?

Trap 1: New Debts Immediately Prior to Filing

If you incurred new debt of $500.00 or more for "luxury goods or services" within the 90-day period before your bankruptcy, or if you obtained a cash advance from a credit card or other loan in the amount of $750.00 or more within the 70-day period before your bankruptcy filing, that debt is presumed to be non-dischargeable, absent the debtor's showing to the contrary.

Trap 2: Debtor Dishonesty in Obtaining Debt

A creditor may object to your request to discharge a debt if the debt was obtained or incurred as a result of fraud, embezzlement or larceny, or any willful or malicious injuries you have caused others. If the Creditor establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the debt was obtained by any of the above means, the debt will be deemed non-dischargeable.

Trap 3: Debtor Dishonesty in Filing for Bankruptcy

Creditors may object to the discharge of certain debts if you have concealed or destroyed any property or financial records; made any false statements in connection with incurring a debt or other financial obligation; withheld financial or other material information; failed to explain losses; failed to respond to material questions permitted under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure; or if you were granted a discharge with respect to that debtor in a prior bankruptcy case filed within the last 6 years.

So, in conclusion, the best advice to consider if you are considering bankruptcy is to stop spending, or at least stop incurring new debt, and ensure you understand and completely disclose your financial history. As in the rest of life, honesty is the best policy.

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