Can You Make a Straw Purchase in Indiana?
When someone purchases or obtains a firearm with the purpose of selling or transferring that firearm to a person who is not legally allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, the transaction would be considered an illegal straw purchase in Indiana. Generally, this offense is considered to be a Level 5 felony and is punishable by 1-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Although buying a handgun in Indiana is easier than in many other states, there are still strict laws around who is able to buy a handgun and other firearms, including the laws on straw purchases. Therefore, if you have any questions regarding eligibility and the sale, transfer, or purchase of a firearm in Indiana, it would be wise to speak with an experienced attorney prior to completing any transaction.
If you would like to speak with an Indianapolis attorney, feel free to contact an Indiana handgun lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team has deep experience protecting Hoosiers’ second amendment rights and navigating both federal and state gun laws. We can help answer any questions you have about purchasing and selling firearms, federal purchase denials, or the licensure required to carry a gun in Indiana.
Laws on Making a Straw Purchase in Indiana
Indiana Code 35-47-2-7(e) is clear: a person who purchases a handgun with the intent to resell or otherwise provide the handgun to another person, knowing that person is either ineligible to purchase or receive a handgun from a dealer or intends to commit a crime with the handgun commits the offense of a straw purchase in Indiana. In addition, one may be charged with a straw purchase offense if they transport a handgun outside of Indiana to be resold or provided to another person who the transferor knows is ineligible to purchase or receive the gun or intends to use it for a crime.
If found guilty of a straw purchase in Indiana, a person would be convicted of a Level 5 felony, which, per the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, is punishable by 1-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Furthermore, if the person who the offender sold the gun to commits murder with the gun, they would be convicted of a Level 3 felony and face 3-16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Who is Ineligible to Purchase or Possess a Gun in Indiana?
For the most part, any Indiana resident over the age of 18 could purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, provided that they satisfy the definition of a “proper person” as defined in Indiana Code 35-47-1-7. An individual who meets any of the following does not meet the “proper person” definition:
- Conviction for resisting law enforcement in the preceding five years
- Conviction for an offense punishable by incarceration for more than one year
- Conviction for domestic violence (unless firearm rights were later restored by court order)
- Conviction for any crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun
- Record of alcohol or drug abuse
- Existence of documented evidence establishing a propensity for violence or emotional instability
- Existence of false information on a firearm license application
- Adjudication of juvenile delinquency for an offense that would have been a felony if committed by an adult if the individual is less then 23 years old
- History of involuntary commitment other than for temporary evaluation or observation
- Adjudication of mentally incompetent
- Adjudication as dangerous in a proceeding under Indiana Code § 35-47-14-6 for firearm seizure and retention
- Court order prohibiting the individual from possessing a handgun
In addition to being a proper person, Indiana Code 35-47-2-1.5 imposes a variety of other restrictions on firearm possession or ownership. This law restricts gun ownership and possession from individuals who have:
- a conviction within the last five years for criminal stalking, domestic violence, or domestic battery
- a felony conviction
- entered and stayed in this country illegally
- fled a jurisdiction to prevent conviction for a crime or to avoid testifying in a criminal matter
- an order of protection issued against you
- been indicted (currently)
- been adjudicated to be dangerous or to have a mental condition or you have been subject to an order of commitment
- a dishonorable discharge from the military
- renounced US citizenship
- a juvenile adjudication for an act that would merit adjudication as a serious violent felon, and are under the age of 23
Federal Laws on Making a Straw Purchase
Participation in a straw purchase is not only an illegal offense under Indiana criminal code; it’s also a federal crime. According to 18 U.S. Code § 932(b), it is illegal for any person to knowingly purchase, or conspire to purchase, any firearm in or otherwise affecting interstate or foreign commerce for, on behalf of, or at the request or demand of any other person, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such other person meets the criteria of 1 or more paragraphs of section 922(d); intends to use, carry, possess, or sell or otherwise dispose of the firearm in furtherance of a felony, a Federal crime of terrorism, or a drug trafficking crime; or intends to sell or otherwise dispose of the firearm to a person described in this law. If found guilty under this federal law, a person could face up to 25 years in prison.
Can You Be Charged with both a Federal and State Crime for Participating in a Straw Purchase in Indiana?
Technically, yes. You can be prosecuted by both the state and federal government for an offense related to a straw purchase. However, it is quite rare.
When considering the situation, most people refer to the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment prohibits a person from being “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,” for the same offense. But this protection actually doesn’t apply when a person is being prosecuted by two separate sovereign governments for the same offense, thanks to the “dual sovereignty” doctrine. In the case of Gamble v. United States, The United States Supreme Court upheld this doctrine, allowing both states and the federal government to prosecute a defendant concurrently for violation of both federal and state laws, even if those laws criminalize the same conduct.
Indiana Expungement and Firearms
Those who are ineligible to purchase their own firearms may be tempted to participate in a straw purchase in Indiana. However, it would be wise to first consult with an Indiana expungement attorney. The reason being is that the laws regarding Indiana expungement and firearms may allow you to restore your gun rights and legally purchase a firearm on your own. Although, only certain types of convictions are eligible for expungement in Indiana, and under no circumstances can the following convictions be expunged:
- Sex or violent offender under Indiana Code 11-8-8-5
- Official misconduct under Indiana Code 35-44.1-1-1
- Convictions for two or more offenses involving the use of a deadly weapon that were not committed as part of the same episode of criminal conduct
- Homicide, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter
It’s also important to understand that Indiana expungement is not sufficient enough to restore the gun rights of someone who has been convicted of domestic violence. However, they are able to petition the court directly, requesting the restoration of their right to purchase and possess a firearm.
Expunging felonies is no walk in the park, especially for those pursuing a do-it-yourself expungement. However, a skilled felony expungement lawyer will know everything that needs to be done to put you in the best position possible to have your records sealed and your firearms rights restored.
If you’re looking for one of the best expungement lawyers to restore your gun rights in Indiana, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We employ an entire team of lawyers who expunge records, restore civil rights, and help clients move forward with their lives. Our team understands the expungement laws in Indiana inside and out. We can help you understand your expungement eligibility in Indiana and handle the filing of your petition for you, ensuring all the strict requirements are met.
Want to Speak with an Attorney about Straw Purchases in Indiana?
If you’ve been charged with, or anticipate being charged with, a straw purchase in Indiana, then you should consult with an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These charges are very serious and could result in you having to spend time in prison.
If you’d like to consult with an Indianapolis attorney, feel free to contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyers have a deep understanding of firearm purchasing and possession laws, and a passion for fighting to preserve those rights whenever possible. Furthermore, if you’d like to purchase a firearm, but are ineligible to do so, our Indiana expungement lawyers stand ready to help you explore your expungement eligibility and do whatever it takes to restore your firearm rights.