Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Supreme Court Hearing Case That May Affect Florida Domestic Violence Victims

Supreme Court Hearing Case That May Affect Florida Domestic Violence Victims


In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v Bruen which established that governing authorities have no discretion in issuing gun permits; in other words, that the 1911 Sullivan Act granting authorities partial discretion in assessing an individual’s reasons for carrying a firearm was unconstitutional. As one might imagine, this birthed a host of contradictory decisions in lower courts, culminating in the court hearing the case of U.S. v Rahimi to allegedly decide the issue. This case may have significant bearing on Florida criminal cases, particularly those involving individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses.

Domestic Abusers & Firearm Possession

Florida law does not recognize one single crime of domestic violence; rather, domestic violence is an umbrella term that encompasses any criminal offense that “results in physical injury or death” to a “family or household member” of the perpetrator’s. (That category can include spouses, ex-spouses, unmarried co-parents, and other family members by blood or marriage, though not people in dating relationships.) Both the presence of domestic violence and the presence of a firearm can act as sentence enhancements to those convicted of crimes.

Florida law does not, as of this writing, explicitly exclude domestic abusers from owning or possessing firearms – but federal law does, and has since the 1997 Lautenberg Amendment was passed. Anyone convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence offense is barred from owning or possessing a firearm – but if adopted as the law of the land, Rahimi would effectively nullify that ban, as it would nullify the law barring abusers from possessing firearms.

The “Historical Tradition” Test

The facts in Rahimi are simple; Rahimi was involved in five separate shootings between December 2020 and January 2021, after which he was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm under the Lautenberg Amendment. He appealed his conviction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who then ruled in his favor, citing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s dissent in a previous case and arguing that “Founding-era legislatures” did not strip people of their rights to own guns based on “virtue-based” restrictions.

Originalist talking points aside, Bruen essentially created a benchmark for gun restrictions entirely out of whole cloth: a restriction must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” – when that ‘tradition’ is haphazard at best, strongly biased against people of color and other minorities at worst. Lower courts are strongly divided on what constitutes a valid test. The Fifth Circuit found that the Lautenberg Amendment depriving people convicted of domestic abuse did not meet that “historical tradition” test, despite its eminently reasonable aims – but the Supreme Court has the last word on the matter.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

As of this writing, the Supreme Court seems to be headed in the direction of upholding the Lautenberg Amendment, but if that changes, it could mean very real danger for victims of domestic violence in Florida. If you have questions or concerns about your own domestic violence case, a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to get your questions answered and your concerns alleviated. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn