If a person is facing domestic violence charges in Florida, they might be wondering if they’ll be able to keep their guns if convicted. Or, those who have been convicted of domestic violence might be interested in purchasing a firearm but are unsure if they’re legally allowed to do so.
These are valid questions because, under certain circumstances, a person with convicted of violent crimes can be prohibited from possessing firearms. In fact, such persons are referred to as “prohibited possessors.”
Understanding how firearms and domestic violence relate to one another under Florida law sheds light on just how serious such criminal charges can be. It is your right under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bear arms, but this right can be temporarily or permanently suspended by the state or federal government if you are found guilty of a felony or violating a domestic violence restraining order.
Here, we’ll take a deeper look at firearms and domestic violence in Florida, and how a criminal conviction can threaten a person’s right to own a firearm. Continue reading to learn more, or contact our Tampa criminal defense lawyers at (813) 321-7323 for a free consultation and find out how we can fight to protect your rights and interests.
Domestic Violence & Firearms in Florida
In Florida, convicted felons are not allowed to possess, own, purchase, or carry firearms until their civil rights have been restored. However, you don’t have to be a convicted felon to fall under the “prohibited possessor” category and be banned from having a firearm.
Under Florida law, if you are subject to a current domestic violence restraining order, otherwise known as an “injunction,” you cannot:
- Possess any firearms
- Possess any ammunition
- Obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon
If you’re prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition because of a domestic violence injunction, and you violate the law, you would be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by up to one year in jail, or by a fine and imprisonment.
Firearms and domestic violence allegations are directly related when a restraining order is in play. Even if you have not been arrested or formally charged with domestic violence, you could find yourself in a situation where you are prohibited from possessing any firearms or even ammunition—and face serious penalties if you’re found to have either in your possession.
Federal Weapons Bans & Domestic Violence
Now that you know that it’s against state law to possess any firearms while you’re subject to a domestic violence injunction (restraining order), but did you know that a violation could be punished under federal law?
Both state and federal laws make it illegal for abusers to possess firearms or ammunition when they have a final injunction for domestic violence against them.
Under federal law, it’s illegal for an abuser (an intimate partner), who has a Final Judgement of Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence against him or her to possess any firearms or ammunition. A violation of this federal law is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or by a fine not to exceed $250,000, or by a fine and imprisonment.
Can You Get a Gun in Florida After a Domestic Violence Conviction?
While Florida law has some opportunity for people who’ve been convicted of a crime in the past to own a firearm again, domestic violence offenders are banned from ever owning a gun by federal law. The Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act bans a person from ever owning a firearm even if their domestic violence charges aren’t a felony. Essentially, the only way to legally possess a gun after a domestic violence conviction is if a person receives a pardon.
Florida’s Domestic Violence Laws
Understating Florida domestic violence laws can help a person know more about their future if convicted. Under Sec. 741.28 of the Florida Statutes, domestic violence refers to assault or aggravated assault, battery or aggravated battery, or sexual assault or battery against a family or household member. It also means stalking, false imprisonment (forcing someone to be contained in space against their will), or any other criminal offense that results in bodily injury or death against a member of the same family or household.
Family or household members may include:
- Parents and children
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Adoptive parents and adopted children
- People who are presently living together as a family
- People who lived together in the past as a family
In Florida, domestic violence is typically charged as assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated battery. Battery, for example, is criminalized under Sec. 784.03 of the Florida Statutes. Under this section, you commit the offense of “battery” if you intentionally touch or strike another person or intentionally cause bodily harm to him or her.
Battery under Sec. 784.03 is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, and by up to one year in jail. However, if the defendant intentionally and knowingly caused great bodily harm upon the victim, permanent disability or disfigurement (including scars), or if they used a deadly weapon, he or she commits the offense of “aggravated battery,” a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Get Experienced Insight on Firearms & Domestic Violence Charges
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence against a member of your family or household, and this person obtains a restraining order against you, your right to own a firearm will be in jeopardy. You must remember that you have the right to challenge this restraining order and any related domestic violence charges. You also have the right to legal counsel if you’ve been arrested for possessing a firearm in violation of a domestic violence injunction. Exercise your constitutional rights and contact our team immediately for hard-hitting, experienced defense counsel.