Can I Buy a Gun with a Domestic Violence Charge?

Written by:Julian Stroleny PortraitJulian Stroleny
Man with a gun

Few things are as embedded in American culture as our constitutional gun rights. That said, if you are convicted of certain criminal charges or if someone is successful in obtaining a domestic violence protective order against you in Florida, you may lose your right granted under the federal gun control act to bear arms.

Understandably, in many cases of misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, there is a valid reason to restrict the gun rights of the defendant. Statistics show that nearly 70 women are shot and killed each month by an intimate partner. 

This is only one side of the coin. False allegations of domestic violence misdemeanor crime by a current or former spouse or partner is also an unfortunate reality in Florida. If you have been wrongly accused of a domestic violence incident, it is important to consult a criminal defense lawyer.

The Legal Implications of a Domestic Violence Charge on Firearm Ownership

Under both federal and state laws, a criminal conviction for domestic violence can affect your ability to own or handle firearms. Federal law states that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense in any court is barred from possessing firearms or ammunition whether or not any physical force-related injury or deadly weapon was involved. 

In addition to federal regulations, Florida has its restrictions. Being arrested for or facing domestic violence charges in Florida means you temporarily lose your right to carry a concealed weapon or firearm, without consideration of whether you are found guilty. If the court does not convict you, you can regain your right to carry concealed weapons. However, a guilty verdict means you permanently lose the ability to own firearms.

Moreover, in Florida, the restrictions extend beyond convicted felons. You do not need a felony conviction to be disqualified from owning firearms. Being subject to an active domestic violence restraining order or injunction also prohibits you from the following:

  • Owning or possessing firearms
  • Owning or possessing ammunition
  • Applying for or maintaining a concealed weapon license

If you have been ordered by the court not to have guns or ammunition because of a domestic violence injunction, and you are found in breach, you would be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. You could end up paying a fine of up to $1,000, spending up to a year in jail, or facing both a fine and time in jail.

The moment a restraining order for domestic violence is active against you, you lose your right to own or even touch guns or bullets. This holds true even if no one has arrested you or charged you formally. If someone catches you with a gun or ammo while this restraining order is active, you could face severe penalties.

Florida law allows some people who have been convicted of certain crimes to have a chance to own guns again in the future. But, if you have been found guilty of domestic violence, the situation is much stricter. According to the Lautenberg Amendment, if you are convicted of domestic violence — it does not matter if it is for a smaller offense or a more serious one — you are not allowed to own a gun at all after that. The only way around this is to receive an official pardon from a state governor or the President of the United States.

Penalties for Obtaining or Possessing a Firearm for Domestic Violence Convicts

In Florida, as in many other states, those convicted of domestic violence offenses (which can include both felonies and misdemeanors) are prohibited from possessing firearms. As such, when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer, all buyers must complete the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473. This form includes questions regarding the buyer’s criminal history, specifically about their domestic violence convictions.

If someone knowingly provides false information on ATF Form 4473, they can be charged with a federal offense (third-degree felony charges), which could mean a five-year jail sentence.

Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is treated as a third-degree felony in Florida. The same applies to people convicted of certain misdemeanors who then violate injunctions that explicitly prohibit firearm/ammunition possession. Penalties could be up to five years in prison, 5 years of probation, and fines up to $5,000. Violation of the Lautenberg Amendment – a federal law – can result in even more severe penalties with up to 10 years in prison.

Guns On Table

The “Boyfriend Loophole” and Gun Ownership

There used to be a big oversight known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which let some offenders buy guns legally. This was especially true if they were not married to, did not live with, or did not share a child with the alleged victim.

The Senate Gun Bill, passed in June 2022, has tightened this loophole to a significant extent. Now, almost anyone with a domestic violence record is stopped from owning guns, making it clearer that the goal is to keep all victims safe. This rule applies no matter if the crime was minor or more egregious, and it includes those who chose a lesser charge to avoid harsher punishment.

There is still one exception for people who offend for the first time. They might be allowed to get their gun rights back after five years if they are not convicted of another similar misdemeanor during that time.

If there is a temporary order against you for domestic violence or harassment, you cannot own guns while that order is active. In these cases, you usually need to give your firearm to a registered dealer or law enforcement for safekeeping. If you can get your conviction cleared (such as, through a pardon or expungement), you might be able to own a gun again.

Get Strong Legal Representation from Seasoned Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys in Florida

If a member of your family or household or a domestic partner has accused you of domestic violence, your freedom and your right to own or keep your firearm could be in jeopardy. Florida’s proven and capable domestic violence lawyer Julian Stroleny at Stroleny Law, P.A. will use the full force of law to challenge the charges against you and aggressively defend your rights. Contact us online or call (786) 481-4129 as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

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