Domestic Violence Convictions and Federal Gun Laws

Posted by Daniel Rosenberg

April 18, 2014

Domestic Violence Convictions and Federal Gun Laws

If you are charged with committing an act of domestic violence in New Jersey, your right to purchase firearms in other states can be barred.

To purchase a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer you are required to complete a Firearms Transaction Record, i.e., a “4473 Federal Form.” As per the Federal Gun Control Act, you may not receive a firearm if you are prohibited by Federal or State Law. 18 U.S.S.C. §§ 922 et seq.

If a Temporary Restraining Order is issued and your weapons are seized, the State can move to forfeit your weapons. If you consent to the forfeiture of your right to purchase firearms in the State of New Jersey, you will not be prohibited by any State law. Rather, you will have waived your right to purchase firearms.  The question then becomes: what are the consequences of a plea or finding of guilt of an offense under Federal gun laws?

There are three (3) sections under the Federal Gun law that are relevant and could potentially bar you from purchasing firearms. They are as follows:

  1. Any person who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one (1) year. 18 S.C.S.§ 922(g)(1); or
  2. Any person who is subject to a court order that was issued after a hearing restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child. 18 S.C.S.§ 922(g)(8); or
  3. Any person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. 18 § S.C.S. 922(g)(9). Federal law defines a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as

(i) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State, or Tribal [tribal] law; and

(ii) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.

If you are convicted of a 4th degree crime, you will be barred from purchasing firearms under federal law. If a Final Restraining Order has been issued, you will be barred as well. Finally, you will be barred if you have been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” Under 18 U.S.C.S. § 3559, offenses classified by imprisonment of one (1) year or less are either a Class A, B or C misdemeanor. If the offense you are convicted of has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, you will likely be federally barred from purchasing a firearm out of state.

If you have been charged with crime or act of domestic violence in Burlington County, you should speak with a Burlington County Criminal Lawyer to discuss how a conviction will effect your ability to purchase firearms under federal law before going to trial or entering a negotiated plea agreement.

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