Gun Rights and Domestic Violence Convictions

FirearmAs we have previously pointed out, a conviction for battery constituting domestic violence can have life altering consequences. Because this charge is a misdemeanor offense, most people are not aware of the exact consequences this charge can carry. While it is generally common knowledge that a convicted felon cannot own or possess a gun or firearm, it may come as a surprise to many to know that in Nevada, a conviction for battery constituting domestic violence will have the same consequence. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, you cannot own or possess any gun, firearm, or ammunition ever again, as long as the conviction remains on your record.

Under federal law often referred to as the “Lautenberg Amendment”, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a domestic violence charge to own, carry, transport, or use firearms or ammunition. Since this is federal law, it is applicable to every state. Whether a person is found guilty of a domestic violence charge because of a plea, or being convicted at trial, the end result is still the same. In fact, prior to accepting a guilty or no contest plea to a domestic violence charge in Nevada, the court requires the defendant to expressly state that he is aware that he is losing the right to own or possess a gun.

Many people are aware of the enhanceability of domestic violence charges. This means that each domestic violence conviction you receive has a harsher punishment, the third one being a non probationable felony. The charges are enhanceable if they occur within seven years of each other. It is a common misconception that just because they charge is no longer enhanceable after seven years, that you can own a gun after these seven years run. This is untrue however. Once you have a conviction for domestic violence on your record, you can never own or possess a gun while it is on your record. Charges do not automatically fall off your record after a certain period of time.

If you work in a field that requires you to carry a gun, you will no longer be able to hold such a position once you have a conviction for domestic violence. This is true of police officers, military, and security officers who carry weapons. If you are in the military and get a conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence, you will no longer be able to fulfill your duties if you are unable to carry a firearm, and will be discharged from the military. There are no exceptions to this. If you cannot carry a gun you cannot be in the military. This law can also affect people who hunt or own guns for home protection. If you fall in any of the above categories it is even more important to avoid a conviction for a battery constituting domestic violence.

Once you lose your right to own a gun, it is possible to get it back if you get the conviction removed from your record. If a conviction is expunged from your record, you will no longer be considered to have been convicted of the charge. All states have some method to expunge or seal your records. In Nevada, it is called record sealing, and not expungement. In Nevada, if you have your record sealed, the arrest is removed from your record and the conviction is no longer searchable.

If you have been convicted of a charge for misdemeanor battery constituting domestic violence, you are eligible to petition to have your record sealed seven years after the domestic violence case is closed. The case is closed once the sentence or requirements ordered by the court at the time of conviction are complete. If you are convicted of a felony domestic violence, the statutory waiting period is longer.

If you are facing a conviction for a battery constituting domestic violence, it is important to have an experienced attorney who understands the nature of the consequences handling your case from your first court appearance. Additionally, if your lifestyle or livelihood would be negatively affected by a conviction that makes it illegal for you to own or possess a gun, it is even more important to have someone handle your case who understands your specific needs to make the best effort possible to keep the conviction off your record. Additionally, if you have been convicted of a domestic violence charge, but want to seal your record so you can once again own a gun, it is important to get the process started as soon as you are able to, since it can take several months for a record sealing to be complete.

Contact the attorneys at Gregory & Waldo if you are facing a domestic violence conviction, or would like to petition to have your record sealed.