Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

Most people are aware that a felony conviction will result in a loss of the right to keep and bear arms. It is a felony in North Carolina for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. It is also a felony under federal law with a possible sentence of up to 10 years for a felon to possess a firearm.

Unless your gun rights have been restored, a felony conviction means you can never possess a firearm or ammunition again in your life.

The same rule applies for certain kinds of Domestic Violence-related crimes, even if they are merely misdemeanors. The Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), also known as the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban makes it a federal offense for someone convicted of a Domestic Violence crime to possess firearms or ammunition.

Not all Domestic Violence offenses automatically mean that the convicted person’s gun rights are lost. 18 USC 921 specifies that in order for the offense to bar gun ownership, the offense must have:

as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.

For instance, assaults on a female surely mean that a person convicted of an AOF in North Carolina in a domestic violence scenario will lose his or her gun rights. But other DV crimes, including interfering with emergency communications, injury to personal property, and so forth may not actually result in a loss of gun rights.

People charged with DV cases must be aware of not only the immediate consequences of a conviction, but also the potential collateral consequences as described above.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.