Our state takes both domestic assault and firearms seriously. And simply being accused of domestic assault can impact your right to possess and own a gun.
But before we get into that, let’s first understand what domestic assault is and see how a domestic assault charge or conviction can affect you.
Under Minnesota domestic assault law, someone can be charged with the crime if they commit an act with the intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death, or if they intentionally inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. What makes it domestic assault is that the alleged victim has to be a family or household member such as:
- Current or ex spouses
- Parents and children
- Blood relatives
- Current or former housemates
- Individuals who are dating romantically
- Parents who share a child
Domestic assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Convictions and Firearm Prohibitions
A domestic assault conviction has a number of consequences besides criminal penalties. On top of fines and jail time, someone might have to deal with issues regarding employment, housing, child custody and visitation, and even simply having a gun.
In addition to the federal Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, which prohibits convicted domestic violence offenders from having a gun, our state has its own laws that also ban guns. If someone is convicted of domestic assault, the courts will look at two things to determine how to proceed:
- Does the defendant own or possess a firearm?
- Was a firearm used in any way during the assault?
If someone is convicted of domestic assault and has a gun, but didn’t use it during the assault, the court will order the defendant to transfer any firearms he or she possesses within three days to a federally licensed firearms dealer, a law enforcement agency, or a third party who may lawfully receive them.
If someone convicted of domestic assault owns or possesses a firearm and used it in any way during the assault, the offender has summarily forfeit their firearm to the appropriate agency.
But for how long?
Every case is different, but the Minnesota courts can prohibit a person from having any type of firearm for at least three years and up to the remainder of the person’s life.
In other words, a single domestic assault conviction can potentially mean you will never be allowed to possess a gun again.
You will also have to give up any firearms if:
- There is a domestic abuse or child abuse protective order out on you
- You have been convicted of domestic assault involving a firearm in another state in the past 3 years
- You have been convicted of a stalking crime with a firearm
- You have been convicted of a stalking crime in the past 3 years
And if you violate any of these gun bans, you will be guilty of a gross misdemeanor, which could mean up to a year in jail.
When you’re convicted, the court should tell you how long you are prohibited from having a firearm. If, for some reason, the court doesn’t give you this information, you still can’t have a gun. See how that can be a bit confusing?
Some of these laws are still relatively new here, but unfortunately not knowing the law doesn’t help you out. So don’t take any chances and get yourself in worse trouble by failing to relinquish your firearms if you have been charged with domestic assault or another domestic violence crime.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star, a Top 100 Trial Lawyer, and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney.