ISP to Switch to Online-only FOID Application and Appeals Process; 3 Tips for a More Effective Appeal

The Illinois State Police (ISP) will soon implement a new online-only FOID application process similar to the online application currently used for concealed carry licenses (CCL). Users will also be required to appeal denied FOID applications online. The process will be simpler, but winning an appeal of a denied or revoked FOID will not. I will discuss the changes and offer 3 tips for a more effective appeal of a denied FOID application or revoked FOID card.

On March 16, 2015, the ISP will merge the FOID and CCL application system by refurbishing its electronic CCL application system to incorporate the FOID application. ISP describes the new system as a change that will modernize and expedite the FOID application process. The online application system will replace traditional paper FOID applications, which will no longer be accepted after March 9, 2015. An electronic appeals process will also be implemented.

Electronic FOID Appeals

Individuals whose FOID application is denied will also be able to initiate their appeal online via the ISP web site. Documents submitted on appeal will be uploaded to the ISP web site for official review, and users will receive instantaneous confirmation of their receipt. Additionally, the web site will track the progress of denied applicants’ appeals and provide information on the status of the appeal. At the time of this writing, it is unclear how appeals of revoked FOIDs will be handled, but I surmise that the ISP will use the same system for appeals of FOID revocations. The new appeals process will be less cumbersome to most. But a successful appeal will still require knowledge of the FOID act, federal firearms law, and the art of legal advocacy.

How to Win a FOID or CCL Appeal Using the New System?

Unfortunately, ISP provides little guidance on what is needed for a successful appeal. There is no way to ensure you win on appeal if your application is denied or your FOID is revoked. As such, I recommend asking an Illinois attorney with experience in FOID and/or CCL reinstatements to help you with your appeal.

These three tips can help you make a stronger case on appeal:

  1. Focus on rebutting the stated reason for denial and/or revocation.
    You will receive correspondence from ISP that states the reason why your application was denied or your FOID/CCL was revoked. You should submit any evidence you can gather to dispute the reasoning behind the decision, or show that the decision was made in error. Further, do not submit evidence that is not relevant. For example, if ISP alleges you are a habitual user of illegal narcotics, you could submit the results of a clean drug test taken by a licensed physician or laboratory certified by the Illinois Dept. of Health and Human Services. On the other hand, a letter from your pastor saying you are a peaceful person would not be very helpful.
  2. Submit evidence with indicia of credibility and/or trustworthiness.
    ISP will not allow you to be present when it considers your appeal. Thus, it is best to submit written evidence that is not easy to dispute and will look credible to an administrative law judge (in case you lose your ISP appeal and seek review in circuit court). For example, submit your testimony in the form of a notarized affidavit rather than as a hand-written letter.
  3. Familiarize yourself with relevant statutes, caselaw, and rules of legal procedure.
    You don’t have to be a lawyer to conduct effective legal research (although a law degree certainly helps). Building your knowledge of relevant legal authority will help you make a better case on appeal. The basis of the denial or revocation you are contesting will be Illinois law, or an interplay of Illinois law and federal firearms laws. As such, you should familiarize yourself with the law underlying ISP’s decision (which is often cited in the notice of denial/revocation). It may be helpful to read the FOID Act (430 ILCS 65 et seq.), the Firearm Concealed Carry Act (430 ILCS 66 et seq.), and select provisions of federal law prohibiting certain persons from possessing a firearm (e.g. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)). You can search for case law that is relevant to your circumstances. You can also learn more about the circuit courts’ limited authority to reverse ISP’s decision of your appeal by studying the rules of Administrative Review in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/3 et seq.)

Daniel J. Reynolds is a lawyer at Erickson, Davis, Murphy, Johnson & Walsh, a Decatur, IL law practice.

Sources:

DISCLAIMER:

The information on this website is for general purposes only and should not be interpreted to indicate a certain result will occur in your specific legal situation. The facts of your case are unique and must be assessed by our attorneys before representation can commence. The information on this website is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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