Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Cannot Own a Gun
Today, in Voisine v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence are prohibited from owning a gun under U.S.C. §922(g)(9). In another Supreme Court case, United States v. Castleman, the Court established that an individual loses his or her gun rights after being convicted of intentional domestic assault; however, there was still a question of whether an individual could be prohibited from owing a gun when the domestic violence conduct was reckless and not intentional.
Short Answer: Yes, an individual convicted of reckless domestic assault or battery is prohibited from owning a gun under federal law.
Can reckless conduct cause a person to lose his or her gun rights?
The two petitioners in Voisine were both convicted of domestic violence under the Maine Criminal Code § 207. Maine Criminal Code § 207 defines assault as “… intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another person”.
The petitioners argued that the conduct which led to the criminal conviction was not intentional, but reckless and should not be considered a violation of U.S.C. §922(g)(9) or result in the loss of gun ownership rights.
The Supreme Court reasoned that Congress intended for individuals convicted of intentional assault and reckless assault to be barred from owning a firearm. In the 12 page opinion, the Court explained Congress’s definition of a “misdemeanor crime of violence” contains no exclusion for convictions based on reckless behavior and that “a person who assaults another recklessly uses force, no less than one who carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally”. The Court further asserted that “[f]irearms and domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination.
Can a person convicted of domestic violence in Ohio lose his or her gun rights?
34 states, including Ohio, have statutes which criminalize intentional and reckless harm against a family or household member. Under Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 an individual may be convicted of domestic violence if he or she does the following:
- Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member;
- Recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member; or
- By threat or force, knowingly causes a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
If an individual is convicted of domestic violence under Ohio Revised Code § 2919.25 he or she is prohibited from owning a gun under the federal statute U.S.C. §922(g)(9) regardless of whether the conduct was intentional or reckless.
Hire an attorney to increase likelihood of retaining gun ownership rights
Immediately after being accused or charged with domestic violence, it is important to consult an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. Individuals who represent themselves or hire a less experienced attorney are often scared into taking a plea deal in domestic violence cases. While a plea deal may result in little or no jail time, a domestic violence conviction will cause the individual to lose gun ownership rights.
Brian Joslyn of Joslyn Law Firm is an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. He has years of experience defending individuals accused and charged with domestic violence, domestic assault, aggravated assault, sexual battery, and rape. He is widely respected by the special domestic violence prosecutors and criminal court judges.
From the initial consultation, the team of attorneys will begin developing the strongest defense strategies to obtain the best possible results in your case. The Joslyn Law Firm aggressively defends individuals throughout Franklin County, including Columbus, Sunbury, Dublin, Reynoldsburg, Worthington, Groveport, Plain City, Heath, Granville, Baltimore, Bremen, South Bloomfield, New Holland, Commercial Point, and surrounding areas.
Contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 or (888) USA-RIGHTS for a free evaluation of your domestic violence case.
References: Voisine v. United States