Since the 1990s, persons convicted of a domestically related crime are prohibited from owning, possessing, or transporting any type of firearm. This ban includes firearms that are used for work and hunting purposes as well.
Many of the laws that were enacted to protect against domestic violence are federal laws. This means that even if a person decides to move to another state after being convicted, they will still be prohibited from having a firearm. Also, if the person owned a firearm prior to a conviction, they may be required to turn it over after being convicted of a domestic violence offense.
Additionally, most states have created their own separate laws regarding firearm possession and domestic violence convictions. While the federal laws provide specific guidelines for intimate partner violence and violence against children, many state statutes prohibit firearm possession when the victim is any household member or any family member regardless of whether or not they lived with the convicted person.
Finally, some state laws also prohibit firearm possession when the offense involves specific conduct, such as violence committed against ex-intimate partners and certain other violent crimes, which are typically listed in the relevant statute. Thus, these states tend to have broader definitions of what behavior may qualify as domestic violence.
Does a Misdemeanor Conviction Prohibit Possession of a Firearm?
A person who is convicted of a misdemeanor crime that involves domestic violence will still be prohibited from possessing firearms. However, if the conviction is overturned or if later on it is expunged from the person’s criminal record, then it might be possible to have the firearm ban lifted.
Both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence convictions can lead to a ban on firearm possession, even in cases where the crime did not involve a firearm or another type of weapon.
Basically, these laws may apply to any domestically related offense, including crimes such as stalking or being in violation of a civil protective order.
Do Domestic Violence Laws Apply to Protective Orders?
A protective order is a type of order that can be issued by a court and is typically granted in situations where a person is in imminent danger. The purpose of a protective order is to prevent a violent party from coming into contact with the victim, which in turn, should act to shield them from any impending harm by their abuser.
Thus, it follows that any person who has an active protective order filed against them will not be allowed to possess, transport, or own a firearm.
Although some protective orders are only meant to last temporarily, the victim is allowed to file an extension and can eventually be granted a permanent protective order. So long as the protective order is active, then the ban on firearms will remain in place.
Civil protection orders, commonly referred to as “restraining orders”, are not part of the criminal case. However, once the order goes into effect it usually prohibits the person identified in the order (i.e., the respondent and/or defendant) from owning or possessing a firearm.
In some cases, the judge may also order the defendant to turn over their firearms to the local police or authorize the police to retrieve any firearms from that person for the duration of the order.
Finally, while protective orders are normally issued in civil court, the legal consequences for violating one can result in a criminal offense. This means that in addition to any civil penalties awarded, the defendant will also have to account for any criminal punishments as well.
What Happens If You Violate the Domestic Violence Firearm Laws?
Owning, possessing, or even being in a home with access to a firearm can lead to serious consequences for the offender. The ban on firearms rule will typically apply either immediately or shortly after the offender is convicted of a domestic violence charge or after the entry of a protective order.
If the offender already was in possession of a firearm prior to the conviction or the protective order, then it is important to alert the judge so that the offender has time to comply with the prohibition in a safe and legal manner.
If they do not comply, a violation of these laws can result in a prison sentence that is similar to the number of years received for any other gun control violation. They may also have to pay some amount of fines.
Since the defendant may be in violation of both federal and state laws that prohibit firearm possession, they could be subjected to charges for multiple crimes and sentences. These consequences will exist even if the offender was not threatening or doing anything with the firearm; simply having a firearm triggers a violation.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help Involving Domestic Violence Issues?
If you are currently facing domestic violence charges or are possibly in violation of a protective order, then a local criminal defense lawyer can help you to protect your rights and will be able to explain the potential outcomes of the case based on the applicable laws.
If you have already been convicted, an attorney can discuss what duties you are responsible for now and how you can comply with the relevant firearm laws.
Alternatively, if you are looking to file a domestic violence claim or are in need of a protective order, you should contact a family law attorney who can further assist you with either process. However, keep in mind that you should have notified the police so you have proper grounds and reason for your claim to be granted.