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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27126
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was convicted under 18.2-57.2 back when I was 20. It was

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I was convicted under 18.2-57.2 back when I was 20. It was tried in J&DR courts. I was told that I would not be able to posess a firearm for a period of 2 years following my conviction. I am now almost 24 and would like to have a straight answer on whether or not I can go to my local gun store and purchasea firearm? The reason I pose this question is because I know any conviction of domestic violence can bar someone the ability to posess a firearm. But I have also read that in VA, 18.2-57,2 is not considered a crime of domestic violence. But it could be under federal law.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a criminal lawyer. The Federal government has its own definition of what a domestic violence offense is for purposes of determining whether one is eligible to carry a firearm.

If the crime fits the definiton of domestic violence, it can cost you your Federal gun rights regardless of whether the state labeled it as such or not.

The Federal definition can be found in 18 USC 921:

"(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (C), [2] 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 the victim in this instance was a present or former spouse, a person you lived with with whom you had a child, your offense would be an act of domestic violence. Otherwise, it would not be. If the victim were your parents or a sibling, for example, that would not meet the Federal definition of domestic violence.

So if you have your state gun rights and cannot clear the NICS check, you ought to be able to appeal it on that basis to the FBIs gun unit. You can read more about how to do that here.

Good luck!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The crime was "committed" against my mother. So based on what your saying, that does meet the Federal definition of domestic violence? I just do not want to go to the store, them run my background check. And be swarmed by police. I also recently had a background check performed for a new job and requested a copy of it. It does not even mention the charge in the JDR court in it. I assume this is because JDR records are sealed. Does that mean it will not show up at the store? Also I do not know whether or not to mark yes or no for the answer to the question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime of domestic violence.


I'm not saying it. The Federal government is saying it. The wording of the statute is quite specific. A child would not be able to commit an act of domestic violence against a parent. Frankly, that sound strange to me, but again, this is quite specific.

From what I see, Virginia does appear to consider 18.2-57,2 a domestic violence offense but they will allow you to get your gun rights back if you were convicted of the misdmeanor rather than the felony. Given that the Federal definition is different, you could appeal this if denied, as I indicated.

As for disclosing it, was this an incident that took place when you were less than 18 for which for some reason you were not sentenced until you were 20? If so, yes, it gets sealed. Otherwise it was an adult rather than a juvenile matter, so I am less sure. The clerk of the court where your conviction took place ought to be able to tell you if the records are sealed. But as government can see what other employers and citizens cannot, you should disclose the conviction.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I was 20 when this all took place. But like I said, It does not show up on the background check that I have. Also, it cut off your answer for whatever reason. Sorry if I am being bothersome!


Refresh your browser, and you'll see the rest of my sentence. I was revising it when you read it.

What was the outcome of your case? Was it dismissed after you served a probationary sentence, for example.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am actually unclear as to exactly the outcome. I know I had to plead guilty to get a felony charge dropped. I have actually been trying to get in touch with the lawyer that handled my case for some time to discuss the outcome with him, with no luck. I was sentenced to 2 years of probation and was not able to own a firearm during that time. I do not believe it was dismissed at that point though.


This is a bit confusing to me too, as you were not a juvenile. Had it occured as a juvenile, this matter would have been sealed when you were 18. But it occurred when you were considered an adult for purposes of a prosecution.

If you can't find your lawyer, your court has some kind of an official document by which you could verify the outcome of your case. If it was dismissed then your answer on a form would be "yes, but it was dismissed." If it was sealed you'd have the legal right to deny that it ever occurred, however, government employers and government licensing agencies can see below the seal anyhow.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok. But if Virginia does not consider a conviction under 18.2-57.2 a crime of domestic violence. Then why would I have to answer "yes" for Have you ever been convicted of a crime of domestic violence?


I didn't say that VA didn't consider it a crime of domestic violence. They do. However in Virginia, you don't lose your rights for the conviction. You lose them only for the duration of time that the protective order is in effect.

The consequences of VA domestic violence and a Federal domestic violence differ. You can lose your gun rights to this under Federal law, even though your couldn't lose your state rights. But NOT if the victim is outside of the Federal definition.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne: I think you should be able to purchase a firearm and would have an appealable case if denied.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much! I believe you have a cleared up a lot of gray areas for me.

This is more than a little quirky, so I would check with the court to see what you'd have to admit to. The interplay between state and Federal law is complicated under the best of circumstances. So I'm glad I was able to clear some of it up for you

Good luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Well I actually tried I ask the courts those questions and all they would tell me is " I can't give you advice" the same with the Virginia state police department when I tried to ask them!

They have to be very careful with that. They usually do know the answers, but because they are not lawyers they can get in trouble for it. The prosecutor could tell you what happened too, incidentally, and as he is a lawyer he can even throw in a little legal advice. But court personnel in general can't.
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