Can I Own a Gun With a Domestic Violence Charge?
In Iowa, being accused of domestic violence (or domestic abuse) itself does not prohibit you from possessing a firearm. However, if additional action was taken after the accusation was made, you will be banned from having a gun. Let's explore what further action may result in such a consequence.
Domestic Violence and a Protective Order
If you are accused of harming a household or family member, the alleged victim of the offense may petition to have a protective order against you.
If their request is granted, you will be prohibited from contacting the person in any way. Additionally, you will be unable to possess a gun.
Domestic Violence and a Conviction
If your case goes to court and you're convicted, you will be banned from having a gun.
Possessing a Firearm While Under Disability
At the time the protective order is issued or you're convicted of the offense, the court is required to inform you that you cannot have a gun.
Specifically, you cannot do any of the following with a firearm:
- Transport, or
- Exercise dominion or control
If you do come into possession of a gun, you are committing a serious offense. Under Iowa Code § 724.26(2)(a), knowingly having a firearm while under disability is a class "D" felony. If you're convicted of this offense, the court may imprison you for up to 5 years. Additionally, it may impose a fine between $1,025 and $10,245.
Restoration of Firearm Rights
Generally, if a person has been convicted of a crime in Iowa and they lose their firearm rights, they can apply for restoration 5 years after they completed their sentence.
Unfortunately, the same does not apply when such a consequence resulted from a domestic violence offense. That's because the ban on firearm possession stems from federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)). The statute says that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot have a gun. Thus, the Governor of Iowa does not have the authority to restore this right.
The only way to seek restoration of firearm rights is by pursuing a pardon or other form of relief. Often, obtaining approval for such a request is difficult.
The consequences for being subject to a protective order or convicted of domestic violence are severe and long-lasting. To protect your rights and future, you must aggressively fight your charge. Doing this effectively requires the services of an attorney who understands the law and knows how to develop sound defenses.