FPC Brief to Idaho Supreme Court: Someone Convicted of a Misdemeanor Cannot Be Considered a Felon-in-Possession Under Idaho Law

Gun News

BOISE, ID (February 23, 2021) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced the filing of an important brief in the case of U.S. v. Gutierrez, currently before the Supreme Court of Idaho. Mr. Gutierrez was charged for being a felon in possession of a firearm, even though his felony conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor nearly two decades ago. The brief, co-authored by FPC’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee, is available at FPCLegal.org.

In the early 2000s, Mr. Antonio Gutierrez was convicted of burglary and sentenced to a rider. In October 2003, after performing perfectly on probation, the court reduced Mr. Gutierrez’s felony burglary conviction to a misdemeanor petit theft conviction. In its charge-reduction order, the court expressly declared that Mr. Gutierrez was “not to be considered a convicted felon.” But when Mr. Gutierrez was found with a firearm nearly twenty years later, he was charged, by the federal government, for being a felon in possession of a firearm due to his burglary conviction that long ago had been reduced to a misdemeanor. The case is currently before the Supreme Court of Idaho, and the issue is whether Mr. Gutierrez may be prosecuted as a felon in possession of a firearm, despite his conviction being reduced to a misdemeanor. 

FPC filed a brief in support of Mr. Gutierrez, arguing that under the Idaho Constitution, individuals convicted of misdemeanors cannot be prohibited from keeping and bearing arms. The Idaho Constitution expressly guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms to everyone who is not a “convicted felon.” And Mr. Gutierrez was expressly declared by the court “not to be considered a convicted felon.” Thus, it violates Mr. Gutierrez’s constitutional right to be prohibited from possessing a firearm when he is merely a misdemeanant. 

The brief was joined by the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Second Amendment Foundation, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, Federal Defender Services of Idaho, and the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho. 

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“The Idaho Constitution is very clear about who can be prohibited from possessing armsconvicted felons,” said FPC’s Joseph Greenlee. “By reducing Mr. Gutierrez’s conviction to a misdemeanor and declaring that he is not to be considered a felon, the sentencing court removed Mr. Gutierrez from the one category of persons who can be prohibited from possessing arms in Idaho. It would be extremely unfair to treat Mr. Gutierrez as a felon only for the purpose of firearm ownership and without any notice.” 

Firearms Policy Coalition and its FPC Law team are the nation’s next-generation advocates for the right to keep and bear arms and adjacent issues, having recently filed many major federal Second Amendment lawsuits, including challenges to the State of Maryland’s ban on “assault weapons” (Bianchi v. Frosh), the State of Pennsylvania’s and Allegheny County’s carry restrictions (Cowey v. Mullen), Philadelphia’s Gun Permit Unit policies and practices (Fetsurka v. Outlaw), Pennsylvania’s ban on carry by adults under 21 years of age (Lara v. Evanchick), California’s Handgun Ban and “Roster” laws (Renna v. Becerra), Maryland’s carry ban (Call v. Jones), New Jersey’s carry ban (Bennett v. Davis), New York City’s carry ban (Greco v. New York City), the federal ban on the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition by federal firearm licensees (FFLs) to adults under 21 years of age (Reese v. BATFE), and others, with many more cases being prepared today. To follow these and other legal cases FPC is actively working on, visit the Legal Action section of FPC’s website or follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom through litigation and legal action, legislative and regulatory action, education, outreach, grassroots activism, and other programs. FPC Law is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on Second Amendment and adjacent fundamental rights including freedom of speech and due process, conducting litigation, research, scholarly publications, and amicus briefing, among other efforts.

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