Small disputes between spouses may escalate or be exaggerated to the point that domestic violence charges may flow. Moreover, domestic violence allegations are not limited to married couples under California law. Some people who are charged with a misdemeanor may decide to simply admit to the charges, hoping to just put the matter behind them--and without any analysis regarding the law or possible criminal defenses to the allegations.
Notably, domestic violence charges are in some ways a different area of the law. Domestic violence allegations may lead to consequences outside of a criminal case that many people might not think about. The direct consequences may vary in a criminal case, depending upon the individual circumstances. But, a domestic violence conviction—even a misdemeanor-level conviction implicates federal gun laws. Allegations of domestic violence may also impact child custody and other issues handled through the courts separately from the criminal case.
Recently, a federal appellate panel sitting in San Francisco issued a ruling that highlights how an old domestic violence conviction can still have impact years later. A man was convicted of domestic violence in Southern California in 1996 related to an incident with his girlfriend at the time. In 2010, he was prosecuted for unlawful possession of guns. He entered a plea deal with prosecutors and appealed the conviction.
He argued on appeal that a lifetime ban on possessing a firearm based upon the state court misdemeanor conviction in 1996 violated his Second Amendment rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit disagreed and upheld the 2010 conviction.
Source: KTVU San Francisco, “Court upholds law barring domestic violence offenders from owning guns,” Nov. 19, 2013