By Attorney Angie Reed
In Illinois, many people get denied when applying for their Firearm Identification (FOID) card. Most of the time, this denial happens because of a criminal conviction. Other times, a denial can happen because of previous admissions for mental health treatment or because a law enforcement agency objects to an applicant who may be a danger to themselves or others.
In the event that an applicant is denied based upon a criminal conviction, there are two main types of appeals. The level and severity of the criminal conviction will determine which appeal an applicant must pursue.
The first type of appeal is an administrative appeal directly to Illinois State Police (ISP) and their newly established FOID Card Review Board (FCRB). This appeal is typically necessary when an applicant is denied based on a conviction for a misdemeanor or low-level drug-related felony. This appeal consists of gathering and submitting documentation to the FCRB so that the board can determine whether an applicant may overcome the denial and be granted a FOID card. The FCRB requires (1) a request for investigation form, (2) a personal statement from the applicant, and (3) at least two letters of support from the applicant's friends, family, and/or colleagues. These letters of support require the writers to attest to the applicant's fitness to own a firearm, and must include the writers' relationship to the applicant, along with the writers' personal details like name and date of birth. All letters submitted to the FCRB must be notarized and have the strict requirement to be notarized within 45 days of submission to the FCRB. This type of administrative appeal can be mailed or e-mailed to the FCRB, and it is free to file. If the FCRB determines the applicant has demonstrated their fitness for a FOID card despite their conviction(s), ISP will issue the FOID card.
The second type of appeal after a denial of a FOID application is an appeal to the circuit court. If an applicant is denied after an administrative appeal to the FCRB, the applicant must then appeal that decision to the circuit court. This type of appeal is also usually necessary when an applicant is prohibited from obtaining a FOID card based on a felony conviction. Although some drug felonies are eligible for the FCRB appeal, Class 2 drug felonies and higher require the applicant to appeal directly to the circuit court in which the applicant resides. There are certain misdemeanors that require an applicant to appeal in circuit court, too; most notably a conviction for domestic battery or domestic violence. Appealing in circuit court is essentially filing suit against the Illinois State Police; this type of filing is engaging in litigation with ISP to try and appeal their denial through judicial review. This type of filing incurs filing fees and fees associated with serving ISP and potentially serving a county State's Attorney that may be necessary to the suit. This is typically a long process that involves the applicant (or their attorney) filing the initial complaint, answering ISP's and/or the State's Attorney's objections, and eventually participating in an evidentiary hearing after which a judge will rule in favor or against the applicant. If the applicant is successful in persuading the court that they should be allowed a FOID card despite their conviction(s), the judge issues an Order that directs ISP to issue the FOID card.
It is important that a skilled attorney helps an applicant navigate their FOID appeal – first to determine which kind of appeal is necessary, and secondly to submit that appeal efficiently and without defect. CTM Legal Group is ready to answer questions and help you pursue the correct appeal to obtain your FOID card.