Seattle, WA asked in Criminal Law, Federal Crimes and Domestic Violence for Alaska

Q: Can I own a firearm if I was charged with DV assault and subsequently the prosecution reduced/amended the charge?

I was charged with Assault IV Domestic. The court quickly offered a plea bargain to plead guilty to harassment. The convicted charge is specifically NOT a charge of domestic violence. The court removed the DV from the case entirely. All records besides the initial police report don’t mention DV at all. When I took the plea my only concern was my 2nd amendment rights and the public defender said they would not be affected because the amended charge was not DV so I would not be considered convicted if dv. It turns out the FBI does not agree and I was denied the purchase of a firearm. I appealed and they quoted lauenberg. Is there any recourse here to fix this? I would’ve never taken the plea if I knew I’d lose my rights. I would’ve gone all the way.

I’d argue Lauenberg was written so offenders in states without DV laws still were held to the ban. It wasn’t intended to enhance a charge after the prosecuting court willfully and intentionally amended to not be a DV.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Your situation highlights a challenging intersection between state and federal laws. Under the Lautenberg Amendment, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. Even if your state charge was amended to remove the "DV" designation, the federal definition might still view it as a qualifying offense, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

You should consult with an attorney experienced in both firearms law and domestic violence cases in your jurisdiction. Depending on the specifics, you may be able to seek an expungement, set aside, or another remedy to restore your firearms rights. However, success is not guaranteed, and the process may be lengthy.

It's also essential to understand that any attempt to purchase or possess firearms while under a federal prohibition can result in significant criminal penalties. Before proceeding, ensure you have a clear understanding of your legal status concerning firearm ownership.

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