A lifetime ban on gun possession

In a recent ruling, a federal law that imposes a lifetime ban on gun possession by people convicted of domestic violence has been upheld by a federal appeals court in San Francisco. Domestic violence convictions often carry with them a panoply of undesirable consequences. Even with minor cases of domestic violence, that do not involve a documented injury, proactive and rapid action by a caring defense attorney may play a significant role in an eventual resolution in the case that does not result in a life-time ban on the possession of firearms.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a California law prohibiting anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing a gun is a legitimate and constitutional measure to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling in a challenge by a San Diego County man who was convicted in state court of misdemeanor domestic violence against his then-girlfriend in 1996.

The federal ban was challenged by Daniel Chovan, who was convicted that year of beating his girlfriend and sentenced to 120 days in jail. In 2009, he tried to buy a gun from a dealer and denied having a record, but was turned down after a background check. The man contended that the lifetime ban violated his constitutional Second Amendment right to bear arms.

He appealed after being prosecuted in federal court in San Diego in 2010 for illegally possessing guns. The FBI found online videos of Chovan shooting rifles, and went to his home after a new domestic violence complaint and found multiple handguns plus a significant amount of ammunition. They also determined that he had made alleged threats to hunt down and shoot his estranged wife if she left him.

The defendant pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge and was sentenced to five years’ probation, but reserved the right to appeal.

His appeal was based on a landmark ruling in which the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2008 that the Second Amendment right to possess guns applies to individuals as well as state militias.

…the right was “not unlimited” in domestic violence

But the appeals court noted that the Supreme Court said in that decision that the right was “not unlimited” and that it applied to “law-abiding, responsible citizens.”

A circuit court judge wrote in the court’s lead opinion that Congress had a legitimate reason for enacting the ban because it was “substantially related to the important government interest of preventing domestic gun violence.”

Choosing the right attorney has now become a crucial decision for those who wish to avoid a domestic violence conviction and retain their right to own firearms.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman