We deal with domestic violence and weapons violations in our domestic violence page, but it is worth noting here that domestic violence charges and convictions can come with surprisingly profound consequences for those who possess firearms either as a matter of professional necessity or personal preference. A lot of the trouble begins before you’re ever convicted. As such, there’s a couple of things I’d like to say here.
First, if you are law enforcement (including many Border Patrol Agents and Correctional facility personnel) and are arrested for almost anything, no matter how minor, categorized as “domestic violence,” including “disorderly conduct” or “criminal damage,” in our experience you will likely, if not certainly, lose, at least temporarily, your ability to carry a weapon for professional purposes. As such you will wind up immediately on desk or evidence room duty—or administrative leave.
Losing Gun Rights Even if Case Dismissed
Second, for those of you here in Arizona who own a prized Sig Sauer (or a Browning over-under for that matter) , it’s possible to lose your legal gun rights without ever being convicted. This can happen in a couple of ways. If someone applies for an order of protection against you (this often happens concomitantly with Domestic violence arrests) and you challenge the order of protection and lose, there is a law –judges call it a Brady finding (from the Brady Bill)—that may make you a prohibited possessor right then and there. Additionally, if you are arrested, booked and released, the initial appearance judge specifies in his release order that you possess no firearms, you also lose your ability to possess a weapon. Violating that order can result in additional charges.
Conviction of a Misdeameanor
Third, if you end up with a conviction for certain misdemeanor domestic violence offenses—either by plea or after trial—you will become a federal prohibited possessor. The cruel irony in the law seems to be that if you are convicted of a felony you may eventually get your gun rights back. But if you are convicted of certain misdemeanor domestic violence matters, there is no way to get your gun rights back, and you may remain a prohibited possessor.
Take-Away & Prohibited Possessor Chart
For these reasons, we’ve reduced the problem to a chart which we enclose here. We think domestic violence matters are surprisingly tricky, fraught with hidden traps for the unwary, and we often, if not always, counsel engaging an attorney at the beginning, even if it seems like a minor fracas.