Federal law prohibits people convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms. However, it's generally believed that only those who intentionally harm others would have their gun rights revoked. In June 2016, the Supreme Court clarified that those convicted of reckless domestic violence are also subjected to the ban. Here's more information about this decision and what you can do to protect your gun privileges.
Closing the Loophole
The Supreme Court decision was the resolution to the Volsine vs. the United States case that was brought by two men who had been convicted of domestic violence in Maine. The men argued their conduct could have been defined as reckless—rather than intentional—and, therefore, they should not be subjected to the gun ban.
The Supreme Court determined the Maine statute, which makes it a misdemeanor to "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" physically injure another person in a domestic situation, doesn't make distinctions between willfully causing harm (i.e. intentional, knowing) and using force with a disregard to possible consequences (i.e. recklessness). Additionally, the court noted that 34 jurisdictions had amended their domestic violence laws to include those who would act in a reckless manner. Because of this and a few other reasons, the court ruled against the plaintiffs and determined those convicted of reckless domestic violence are prohibited from owning firearms as per federal law.
Avoiding Losing Your Firearm Privileges
Once you have been convicted of domestic violence, whether it was intentional or not, it can be very difficult to restore your gun privileges. However, there are a couple of things you can do to avoid losing them in the first place.
One option is to take part in a diversion program that may help you avoid a conviction. Domestic violence diversion programs require defendants to complete certain tasks, such as attend anger management classes or be on probation for a period of time. After the person has fulfilled the terms of the program, the charges against the individual are usually dropped. Be aware, though, that you must plead guilty to the charges so you can be convicted of the crime if you fail to complete the diversion program.
The other option is to make a deal with the prosecutor for a different set of charges. For instance, you can accept a plea bargain to be charged with assault rather than domestic violence. You may still be sentenced to jail time or other consequences, but you won't lose your gun privileges as long as you're not charged with a felony.
There may be other options available to help you protect your firearm privileges. Contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance with your case.Share
23 November 2016
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