Massachusetts License to Carry Appeal

Massachusetts License to Carry Appeal

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LTC appeal attorney

In Massachusetts, there is a different licensing authority for each city and town: the chief of police. In some cities, the chief designates a licensing officer to review LTC applications. There are a number of disqualifiers that will prohibit the chief from granting someone an LTC, including:

  • felony conviction
  • misdemeanor conviction if punishable by more than two years (even if no jail time was actually served)
  • conviction of a “violent crime,” gun crime, domestic violence, or controlled substance violation
  • commitment to a hospital for mental illness, alcohol or substance abuse
  • under age 21
  • subject to a current restraining order
  • current arrest warrant
  • dishonorable discharge from the military
  • renouncing your United States citizenship

Finally, the catch-all: suitability. Police chiefs seem to love denying people based on suitability. But that’s where a good attorney can help. The police often overstep their authority when determining that someone is unsuitable to have an LTC in Massachusetts.

In order to find a person unsuitable, the police chief must have “reliable and credible information that the person has exhibited or engaged in behavior that suggests that, if issued a license, he may create a risk to public safety” or “existing factors that suggest that, if issued a license, the person may create a risk to public safety.”

Although a denial can properly be based on certain guilty pleas, a continuance without a finding (“CWOF”) is a different story. A CWOF is a fairly common disposition in criminal cases. Essentially, a person admits to the crime in exchange for leniency. The case is held open for a period of time, and if the person stays out of trouble, eventually gets dismissed.

The Supreme Judicial Court has held that a CWOF does not enable a finding in a civil proceeding that the alleged crime actually occurred. That may seem counterintuitive at first glance. But the court has clarified that other factors may lead people to admit to sufficient facts in a criminal case, such as avoiding the expense and publicity of a trial.

How to Appeal a License to Carry Denial

Within 90 days of receiving the denial (or suspension/revocation) letter, you can appeal the chief’s decision in the district court. We can help you prepare and file a petition for judicial review, which starts the appeal process. After that, you get a trial in front of a judge, where we need to show that the chief’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” At the hearing, you can testify, we can call witnesses, present evidence, and cross-examine the chief.

If the district court judge upholds the chief’s decision, you can appeal to the Superior Court, the Appeals Court, and then the Supreme Judicial Court. However, your best chance of success is likely the district court, so you should strongly consider hiring an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the denial or suspension of your LTC.  Click here for some examples of our LTC appeal wins.

If your LTC has been suspended, denied, or revoked based on suitability grounds, we may be able to help. Call us at 781-797-0555 for a free phone consultation today.


G.L. c. 140, § 131

Wardell v. Director of Div. of Empl. Sec., 397 Mass. 433 (1986)

Commonwealth v. Jackson, 45 Mass. App. Ct. 666 (1998)

Burns v. Commonwealth, 430 Mass. 444 (1999)

Richard Phipps v. Police Commissioner of Boston, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 725 (2019)

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