DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, PROTECTIVE ORDERS:
Firearm restrictions apply to all protective orders in some way, including no-contact orders. Protective Orders do not exclusively deal with “intimate partners,” and do not require notice of a hearing for issuance against you. This is different from federal law. Protective orders may be worded differently from case to case, so you should review any order with a criminal or family attorney to know whether your firearm rights are affected.
Purchase, Transport, or Possess
It is illegal to purchase or transport a firearm if you are subject to a protective order (of any kind). However, the law does not always prohibit the possession of a firearm. The MAJOR exception is a protective order issued in cases of family abuse (Va. Code 18.2-308.1:4) or to protect the health and safety of others that are not family (19.2-152.10). Someone subject to a permanent protective order involving a “family or household member” may not even possess a firearm.
The Grace Period… Beware
There is a new 24-hour “grace period” to possess and/ or transport a firearm for the purpose of transferring or selling such firearm to a person that is not prohibited. The 24-hour period begins from the time the court-issued permanent protective order is served upon the respondent (the person the order is against). Keeping your firearms after this period constitutes a felony offense.
But, beware of the 24-hour grace period! Virginia law must be considered in conjunction with Federal law that prohibits possession of a firearm when subject to a protective order for family abuse. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). So, the 24-hour “grace period” under Virginia law for a family abuse Protective Order does not protect you from the prohibitions and harsh penalties under Federal law (– I view this contradiction as a misleading dereliction of the duties of our legislature).
Concealed Weapons Permit
Additionally, individuals who are subject to a protective order will lose their right to carry a concealed weapon. There is no official-use exemption, so this prohibition carries over to members of the military and law enforcement. This is another reason that litigating these protective orders is so important.
Federal Law and Domestic Violence Convictions
Federal law addresses firearms when convicted of a crime of Domestic Violence. Virginia does not revoke firearm rights if you are convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, but federal law makes you a prohibited person. And, in a weird twist with how Federal Law works together with State law, because Virginia does not restrict firearm rights after a Domestic Violence conviction then Federal law does not recognize any state mechanism to restore your firearm rights after such a conviction. Even having your Virginia firearm rights restored through a Virginia Circuit Court will not work. Nor will a Governor’s Pardon. (The feds also do not do any restoration of firearm rights – the possibility exists, but the department that would do it is not funded by Congress).
Under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(7), any person convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Virginia Courts provide a pamphlet on this issue, so I do not need to regurgitate the analysis here. However, another aspect to consider is that the conviction does not need to say “domestic” to qualify. If you were convicted of an Assault & Battery against a person that would qualify as “family or household member” equivalent under federal law, then you are prohibited. See the Pamphlet here.
Firearms can get you into serious trouble when you have a protective order against you or a domestic violence conviction. Brian M. Latuga, Esq. is here to help if you are charged with a crime of Domestic Violence, facing a Protective Order petition, or are attempting to restore your civil and firearm rights through a Virginia Circuit Court. Call Brian directly for a free consultation; or, call his assistant, Heather, to make an appointment for an in-office meeting. Our contact information is here. We stand up strongly for yours and your loved one's rights.
Not every case is the same, and all have numerous factors that must be analyzed. By no means is this a full legal analysis of Firearms and Domestic/ Protective Order law. This short article is not legal advice nor should it be considered legal advice. The sole purpose is to shed some light on your firearm rights in conjunction with domestic violence convictions and protective orders.