Domestic violence is a common occurrence among military spouses and people who share a household. The Department of Defense reports that in 2013, there were more than 7,600 domestic abuse complaints. Two-thirds of the purported victims were women, while the remaining third were men. Florida defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, stalking, or other criminal offense that results in the death or physical injury of a family member or household member by another family member or household member. While Florida law provides its own penalties for a conviction of a domestic violence offense, including possible jail time, no contact orders, and losing custody of your children, what you might not know is that if you are a service member, a domestic violence conviction can also seriously affect your military career.
In 1996, an amendment to the Federal Gun Control Act, referred to as the Lautenberg Amendment, established a ban on the possession of firearms by those convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence act. This law prohibits people who are convicted of misdemeanor and felony domestic violence crimes from possessing, or shipping, receiving, or transporting firearms and/or ammunition. It is also illegal to knowingly sell or provide a firearm to a person who is known to have a domestic violence conviction. Florida law offers a mechanism for non-conviction with sentencing known as “Adjudication Withheld”. However, for federal law purposes (and other Florida laws), this distinction is meaningless. Adjudication withheld is the same as a conviction for domestic violence cases.
Because federal law prohibits anyone with a domestic violence conviction from possessing a firearm, this includes military members as well. What this means is, if convicted of a domestic violence offense, whether under state or federal law, or general court martial or special court martial, you cannot own, possess, or be issued weapons and/or ammunition, even if you are in the line of duty. In other words, because possessing a firearm is such an integral part of your job as a military service member, you can lose your job and possibly lose your ability to remain in the military if you are convicted of a crime of domestic violence. The Lautenberg Amendment applies even to domestic violence convictions you may have received even before you began your military career.
If you have a conviction that falls under a crime of domestic violence, you cannot own or possess firearms and/or ammunition. To do so can cause you to be criminally prosecuted and possibly face adverse administrative action by the military. If you knowingly violate federal law, and illegally accept possession or continue to possess firearms, you will be committing a crime and the consequences on both your civilian life and your military career can be even more devastating than if you had only a domestic violence conviction. Accordingly, if you have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, it is in your best interest to avoid possessing firearms or ammunition in violation of federal law.
Let a Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Help Fight Your Domestic Violence Charge and hiring a certified criminal law specialist is the best start for your best defense
Oftentimes, domestic violence charges boil down to circumstantial evidence, or what “he said” or “she said.” In other cases, a one sided presentation of the facts or mind altering substances including alcohol and/or prescription medications are involved. Regardless, domestic violence charges should not be taken lightly as a conviction can have serious and long-lasting consequences on both civilians and military service members, including the possibility of losing your livelihood.
Some try to handle their cases on their own, only to violate no contact orders. This violation usually results in new charges plus no bond and the loss of a military career. Others try to bank on the purported victim not showing up, only to discover “courthouse surprise” – an unexpected error that leads to an unexpected outcome which includes jail time. Your criminal defense specialist knows how to correctly handle no contact orders and domestic violence defenses.
If you have been arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime under Florida law, it is important that you consult with a top, experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Let a qualified and experienced Fort Walton Beach criminal defense attorney help you fight your domestic violence charge today. Stephen G. Cobb is the only defense lawyer who is a Florida Bar certified criminal law specialist in a three county area. Schedule a free consultation with Specialist Stephen G. Cobb by calling (850) 423-0035.
Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 101-BFort Walton Beach, FL 32547