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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27467
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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6 yrs ago I was arrested for domestic disorderly conduct and

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6 yrs ago I was arrested for domestic disorderly conduct and domestic battery in Wisconsin. My attorney at the time got the domestic battery dismissed and the domestic language dismissed from the disorderly . I was convicted of disorderly conduct. I did a yr probation without incident. I have no other charges on my record. I recently tried to purchase a shotgun and learned I was prohibited. How do I restore my firearm rights?
Hi Jacustomer,

As far as the Federal government is concerned, whether the state calls your conviction a domestic violence offense or it doesn't, doesn't make a difference. If the case makes out the elements of a domestic violence offense according to the federal definition of it, then the defendant loses his Federal gun rights.

THe definition is found in 18 USC 921:

the term “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” means an offense that—

(i) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State, or Tribal [3] law; and

(ii) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.

So if what you pled to does not allege force or attempted force or threatened use of a weapon or if the complainant is not your former spouse parent, guardian, etc., then you can appeal the denial of your gun rights. You can appeal this by following these instructions.

If on the other hand the statute does support the federal definition of Domestic Violence, then under the Lautenberg Amendment, until the law changes, the loss of your Federal rights is for life. You can try to get a pardon from the governor on the disorderly conduct, but the Feds do not have to accept it.

Here's the statute under which you pled guilty:

947.01 Disorderly conduct.

(1) Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.

(2) Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading, carrying, or going armed with a firearm, without
regard to whether the firearm is loaded or is concealed or openly carried.
I'm very sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
If on the other hand,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So even without being convicted of a domestic abuse crime I am prohibited? Obviously they had no evidence to prove my guilt. Thats a pretty harsh penalty for a first time offense of disorderly conduct
Hi Adam,

That's correct. I understand that this is harsh, but it has been this way ever since the Violence Against Women's Act. That Act is the culprit. So even though Wisconsin may be perfectly content to restore your rights the Federal government is not, which is what happened to you.

You'd have recourse if the facts don't make out the definition of a domestic violence offense. But if they do, Federal law trumps state law, and you simply cannot bear arms any more.

I do not know exactly what you may have acknowledged on the record when you took your plea. If this is important to you, it might be worth letting a lawyer get the transcripts to figure out whether you could have fallen outside the Federal definition. Then, of course, you could appeal.
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