Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Cannot Own a Gun

Supreme Court Rules Individuals Convicted of Domestic Violence Prohibited From Gun Ownership

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:

  1. Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member;
  2. Recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member; or
  3. 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

 

Domestic Violence Address Confidentiality

iStock_000001144891SmallDomestic violence is a criminal offense the state of Ohio takes very seriously. For several years, the state of Ohio has allocated considerable resources to special law enforcement investigation units and prosecution teams  dedicated to resolving domestic violence crimes, including rape, stalking, and sexual battery. Prosecution and convictions for domestic violence has risen; however, these measures have not always made domestic violence victims safer.

Until last month, the addresses of domestic violence victims were included in public records. This means the home address of a domestic violence victim could be accessed by anyone, including the former abuser, during a public records search. Having a former abuser, stalker, or rapist with access to a victim’s address can have disastrous consequences.

House Bill 359

In January 2016 the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 359. House Bill 359 allows domestic violence victims to have their addresses omitted and/or erased from public records. HB 359 is aimed to protect  individuals who have been victimized by:

  • Sexual battery
  • Domestic violence/abuse
  • Rape
  • Human Trafficking
  • Stalking

HB 359 allows victims to withhold their contact information – specifically their home address – from appearing on public records when with government agencies.

The bill allows the Secretary of State’s Office  to assign domestic violence victims an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) number, which would double as a P.O. Box, to use in place of their own address when:

  • Registering their vehicles
  • Registering to vote, and/or
  • Filling out any governmental forms

Additionally, domestic violence victims can also provide institutions of higher education as well as, their employers P.O. Box number in place of their address.

House Bill 359 was proposed after the gruesome 2009 triple-murder of domestic violence victims, Marcia Eakin and her two young children, in which public records where used by her ex-husband to track them down.

Effect of HB 359

In addition to making domestic violence victims safer and more secure in their homes. Domestic violence victims can also participate in several activities most people take for granted, including registering to vote and registering with the department of motor vehicles (DMV).

This is important, because once registered to vote or with the DMV, contact information is now public for any and every one to stumble upon. Before the passing of HB 359, many domestic violence victims were too afraid to take advantage of it for fear of being tracked down by the information provided while registering.

Many survivors of abuse would rather opt out of voting altogether than have their contact information listed online for their attacker to stumble upon.

Resources

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN)  provides resources, information and training for domestic violence victims as well intervention programs for batterers.

For 9:00am – 5:00pm assistance, contact the ODVN at 1 (800) 934-9840

For afterhours assistance, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233

Conclusion

Domestic violence charges are arguably the most disruptive and difficult charges to fight. Whether you’re in the midst of a child-custody dispute, have had a silly argument with your spouse that got out of hand, or are facing completely false accusations of abuse from a previous and/or current romantic partner, you should seek a legal professional. Even if the alleged victim does not follow through with the charges, there is still a possibility that you could face stiff penalties such as restraining orders, counseling, and jail time.

If you are in Ohio and have been charged with Domestic Violence in the state of Ohio, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today to speak with one of our experience criminal defense attorneys at (614) 444-1900

Penalties in Felony Domestic Violence Cases in Ohio

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One Ohio county is changing the way in which domestic violence cases are handled and prosecuted. A court created nearly four years ago has seen success in helping those facing felony domestic violence charges get treatment rather than an automatic jail or prison sentence.

According to WKYC, Summit County created the state’s first Felony Domestic Violence Court in 2011 in Akron. Since its inception it has seen several success stories. Similar to other diversion courts, offenders are granted the option of completing a specialty program instead of harsh punishments.

The goal of the program is to focus on getting to the real reason the abuse occurred, which includes holding the person accountable for his or her actions, according to the report. This can include a 52-week batter intervention program.

In these cases, the victim has to agree to allow his or her abuser to enter into the program. Once in the program, a participant could be required to abstain from drug and alcohol use, regularly submit to drug and alcohol testing, agree to be given employment assistance and be monitored through a prosecutor and a probation officer.

They also could be required to attend weekly group meetings with others who are dealing with domestic violence-related issues.  This is part of the way in which the program works to help the person address why he or she committed the actions leading to the domestic violence charges.

Judge Paul Gallagher, who is in charge of handling the cases, and prosecutor Angela Alexander have said they have about a 75 percent success rate of defendants who complete the program and do not re-offend, according to the report.

Although every domestic violence case in Ohio can be handled differently, some could require mandatory minimums sentences. The punishment for cases in the Franklin County area can change depending on several factors, including where the case is handled, the alleged offense, the type of victim and the severity of the crime.

Generally, when a person is charged with a fifth-degree felony domestic violence offense, he or she could face imprisonment up to one year, fines up to $2,500 or both. This charge usually occurs if a person is accused of domestic assault or violating a protective order.

Domestic assault, menacing by stalking and endangering children all could be punishable as felonies of the fourth degree in Ohio. Penalties for these types of offenses can include imprisonment for up to 18 months, fines up to $5,000 or both.

Third-degree domestic violence felony offenses could include violations of protection orders, sexual battery, assault and endangering children. These generally could be punishable by up to five years in prison, fines up to $10,000 or both.

When a person is charged with a second-degree felony, he or she could expect harsher penalties, including up to eight years in prison, fines up to $15,000 or both. Offenses in this category could include sexual battery and endangering children.

Although a diversion program may not be available to felony domestic violence offenders in the Franklin County area, an experienced Columbus domestic violence attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can help you get a favorable outcome in your case. No matter the situation, we can fight to have your charges reduced or even dropped. Call (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to learn more about your options in Ohio domestic violence cases.