Sometimes, you want to be able to protect yourself. But, firearm laws can make this difficult for felons. Those convicted of a felony are not allowed to buy or be in possession of a firearm. Luckily, most states do not consider a taser to be a firearm.
The first thing to note about state laws is that they do differentiate between tasers and stun guns. A taser is a device that shoot electrical probes. These probes shoot to about 15 to 30 feet.
A stun gun is also a device that administers electric shock. But, the probes on a stun gun do not shoot out. They remain attached to the device and must be in direct contact with the target.
Below is information about the legal use of tasers and how to get them. You can buy them online or in stores. But only do so if your states permits you to have them.
Legal Use of Tasers
Non-prohibited persons can carry tasers for self-defense purposes. States have different laws on whether it can or must be a concealed carry. State laws also differ on whether you can carry them in public.
If you use a taser for anything other than self-defense purposes, it is at least a misdemeanor. If you use a taser for the commission of a felony, then it also becomes a felony charge.
If the taser injures someone by accident, then you may receive a criminal charge. So, you must be very careful with it if you do decide to get a taser.
What is a Prohibited Person?
A prohibited person is someone who is not legally allowed to buy, own, or carry a taser. State laws vary, but these usually refer to people that are a danger to others if given a taser. This can include people with certain convictions, protection orders, or dangerous psychiatric history.
Some states hold no restrictions for having a taser. At the very least, states may only allow people over the age of 18 to have them. There are several states in which it is illegal for convicted felons to have a taser.
In some states, you need to have a permit or a license to buy and carry a taser. Even then, you may only be able to have one in certain situations. For example, you might only be able to keep a taser in your home and not carry it in public.
There are also different state statutes on concealed carrying. This is when you carry a taser in public, but you hide it from others being able to see it.
Local authorities or the court should be able to give you more information on taser laws. If you do need to get a permit or license, this will likely go through the court. This is generally how it works for firearms as well.
In some states, a background check is also required. This will show any criminal charges and whether you are on the sex offender registry or not.
In some states, you may also need a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). This is true even when tasers are not considered to be firearms. You can sometimes get the FOID at age 18, but you must be 21 in others. Contact your local police for information on applying for an FOID.
Alternative to Tasers
If you are unable to get a taser, but still want to carry a form of protection, pepper spray may be an option for you. Pepper spray is much more accessible than tasers.
State laws on pepper spray, such as who can have it and how much you can carry, vary state by state. Check your local statutes to be sure. In general, though, pepper spray is legal to carry in public.
A few states do prohibit felons from carrying pepper spray, but this is rare. Like with tasers, you may need to be at least 18 to have this. Unlike with tasers, you will not need to have a permit or license to have pepper spray.
Also like tasers, you may only use pepper spray in self-defense. If you use it for any other reason, even by accident, it may result in criminal charges.
Clearing a Criminal Record
If you happen to live in a state that prohibits felons from having tasers, you may still have options to get one. One thing you might want to think about is getting your record cleared. There are a few ways to do this and they can allow you to get a taser without breaking the law.
So, what options do you have? Well, if you want to get your record cleared to restore some rights, you could look into the following:
- Felony reduced to misdemeanor
- Record expungement
Generally, a certain amount of time must have passed since your conviction for these to be an option. This is usually several of years, although the exact number varies state to state. They may also not be options for all types of offenses, such as violent or sexual.
Reducing a Felony to a Misdemeanor
This is not an option in every state, but it can be a useful tool for those who have paid their debt to society. This would be helpful in owning a taser or firearms, as well as finding work, housing, and more. Generally, felonies for violent or sexual crimes cannot reduce to misdemeanor charges.
To reduce a felony to a misdemeanor after you have served your sentence, you will need to petition the court to do so. You can get the necessary paperwork from a court clerk. This paperwork will cover information about the case and why you want the reduction. There will usually be a fee for this, but you may be able to apply for a fee waiver.
Check with the court clerk when you pick up the paperwork who you need to submit it to. You may be able to submit it back to the court, but you may also need to give it to the prosecutor’s office. There will also likely be a hearing before the decision and you will need to attend.
Getting Your Record Expunged
In some states, not all, getting your record expunged is a way to restore some of your rights. Record expungement is a way to clear your case from public record. It makes it seem as though the crime never occurred, at least in the public sphere.
In the eyes of the law, your case will still have happened. But, the charges will no longer show up on background checks. This is also a great way to legally get around prohibitions against you owning a taser.
You will need to go through the court for this as well. Because the process is a little more involved, you may want to contact an attorney for help. There is a fee for getting your record expunged as well.
Various states offer certificates by different names that restore some of your rights. For example, New York offers a “Certificate of Good Conduct” for felons. This says that a certain amount of time has passed since your conviction and that you are no longer a threat.
Other states have similar programs, but call the documents different names. The process for getting these certificates is different in every state. You can check with your probation/parole officer or local court for more information.
Getting a Pardon
A pardon is a way for the government to “forgive” you for your crime. It acknowledges that the crime occurred, but also shows that you are no longer a threat. It is like the certificates in that it can restore certain rights.
These are a little more rare these days, though. You will have more luck getting a certificate. But, if you do want to pursue this, you can also consult your local court for more information in doing so.
The above information has explained to you the restrictions that felony convictions place. They can get in the way of you owning a taser or its alternatives, pepper spray and stun guns.
But, do remember that you have options for getting these items. Even if you have a felony conviction, you can still get your record cleared in a sense.
Consult with your local court for information about your options. You want to make sure you are the legal owner of a taser, and that you are safe with it. Otherwise, you could face new charges on your record.
State requirements. (2019). Retrieved from https://buy.taser.com/pages/state-requirements