MN criminal law, possession of firearm by ineligible person

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: criminal law, possession of firearm by ineligible person.

State of Minnesota v. James Patrick Jones. MN criminal law, possession of firearm by ineligible person

State of Minnesota v. James Patrick Jones

The defendant in this Cass County case was convicted of being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. 624.713, which prohibits persons found delinquent of certain crimes from possessing a firearm.

His probation had contained a condition requiring him to secure advance approval from his probation officer before owning or carrying a firearm or weapon. In 2013, he completed probation, and the district court issued an order stating that jurisdiction in the matter is terminated.

The defendant argued that the probation agreement and discharge order led him to believe that he was allowed to possess a firearm. The district court disagreed and he was convicted. He then appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

On appeal, he argued that the conviction violated due process because the state led him to believe that he could possess a firearm after completing juvenile probation.

He cited Whitten v. State, 690 N.W.2d 561 (Minn. App. 2005), in which the appeals court had accepted a similar argument. However, in that case, the discharge from probation had stated that he "was discharged from probation and restored to all civil rights and to full citizenship with full right to vote and hold office the same as if said conviction had not taken place." And critically, the order included a check box that, if checked, would have indicated that he was not entitled to possess a firearm for ten years. That box was not checked in the Whitten case, and the court had agreed that it would violate due process to convict him of possessing a firearm.

But the court distinguished Whitten in this unpublished decision. It held that the facts of this case did not rise to the same level of affirmative misrepresentation.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.

No. A15-1848 (Minn. Ct. App. Sep. 6, 2016).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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