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Domestic Violence & Gun Issues in Bentonville

The Effects of Domestic Violence Charges on Federal Firearm Restrictions

While the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to "bear arms," this is a right that can be taken away under certain circumstances. In 2015 I presented the above-titled speech in two different Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. Licensed attorneys are required to attend a minimum of 12 hours CLE every year to maintain their license to practice law. This goes for everyone with an active license, including judges.

After realizing how little information clients were getting about what effect on their gun rights their pending charges may have, I decided to do the research and teach other lawyers and judges myself. As a skilled Bentonville criminal defense attorney serving all of Northwest Arkansas, I have extensive experience with these charges.

The Law

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was amended in 1996 to add a firearm restriction for any person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. This means that even though your state may not ban you from owning firearms due to a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, you may be banned federally. So it's important to know what you are charged with and what effect it will have on gun rights.

The Offense - Part I

The first prong of the domestic violence offense that triggers the federal firearm restriction is the crime must have, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.

This does not require you to actually be convicted of using force, but if you are charged with a crime that includes the use of force you must make sure your attorney understands this law to give you proper guidance.

The Offense - Part II

The second prong of the offense deals with the domestic relationship between you (the defendant) and the alleged victim. The federal definition of "domestic relationship" will likely differ significantly from what your state considers a domestic relationship. This is a very important distinction that may help you retain gun rights.

The Restriction

If your charge ultimately leads to the loss of firearm rights, you are no longer allowed to own, possess, or transport a "firearm." The definition of firearm includes almost all modern guns, ammunition, explosives, etc.

There is a very slim allowance for black powder muzzle loading weapons, but make sure the capabilities of the gun comply with the federal definition of firearm, to include the inability to fire modern rim-fire or center-fire ammunition.

The Conviction

The underlying conviction must comply with certain requirements, including the use of a lawyer or the knowing waiver of counsel, and the opportunity to have a jury trial. This, too, can be complicated, so make sure your attorney reviews the law and your case.

Restoring Rights

Under certain circumstances, including expungement of your conviction, restoration of civil rights, and pardons, you may be able to regain your right to possess a firearm.

If you are concerned about your rights as a gun owner, call me today at (479) 250-4863. I am a Bentonville criminal defense attorney with experience on both sides of the courtroom and can help you fight your case.

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