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Can A Domestic Violence Conviction Affect My Gun Rights?
The right to bear arms is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution – but, contrary to popular belief, that right can be (and is) justifiably restricted in situations where a person is deemed to be a danger to themselves or other people. In Florida, a person’s right to own a firearm can be lost if they are the subject of a permanent order of protection – and if they are convicted, federal law may keep that ban in place.
State Law May Allow Possession
As of this writing, Florida has no specific law in place that explicitly prohibits people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from owning firearms or ammunition. State law defines a crime of domestic violence as any offense that results in physical injury or death to a person, committed by a “family or household member” against another family or household member, including (but not limited to) assault, battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or stalking.
That said, if you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, and your alleged victim obtains a final order of personal protection against you, Florida law generally requires you to surrender firearms or ammunition. It must be a final order – while “ex parte” orders are relatively easy to obtain within hours or days, a final order is only obtained after a hearing where both of you get a chance to tell your side of the story – but once a final order is obtained, Florida law prevents you from possessing firearms.
Federal Law & The Lautenberg Amendment
Contrary to Florida law, U.S. federal law on firearms and who may possess them is more stringent, balancing the interests of the individual in owning these items with the interests of society in regulating those who should not. In 1996, Congress passed what is now known as the Lautenberg Amendment, which holds that those convicted of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” (among others) are barred from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition.
While the definition of a ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence’ includes different criteria than Florida state law – for example, the relationship categories between the perpetrator and the victim are different – the fact remains that if you are convicted of this type of offense, you may not, by law, own or possess firearms at any point moving forward. Failure to surrender any that you might have will almost certainly open you up to further legal trouble.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it is crucial that you enlist an experienced attorney to help get you through the legal process, particularly since the stakes are quite high. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can ensure that your rights are protected in court. Contact us today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.