Court: California battery sufficient to trigger fed gun ban law

Allegations of a domestic dispute can arise in many different ways--and at different times during a relationship. A simple argument may escalate after a relationship grows rocky. Divorcing couples may have disputes as the marriage breaks down. Unmarried couples can also have disputes.

At times, these spats may lead to increased allegations if one person or the other calls authorities during an argument. He said-she said situations can arise. Same sex partnerships can also be involved in allegations that lead to a domestic violence charge.

Many people in California may be aware that a domestic violence charge can lead to harsh consequences in the criminal case if a conviction is entered. Like most any type of criminal conviction, collateral consequences can also follow a conviction on a domestic abuse charge.

For instance, federal gun control laws prohibit possession of firearms by a person who has been convicted a felony. However, in 1996, Congress expanded the prohibitions on firearm possession under the law to include anyone convicted of domestic violence—including a misdemeanor level domestic violence charge.

In 2006, a Tulare County man appeared in court and entered a no contest plea to a simple battery charge and received probation. The issue involved some kind of confrontation between him and his wife.

He later wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. He applied to become a reserve officer in 2008 and tried to purchase a weapon in 2011, according to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno. California officials denied the gun application due to the prior misdemeanor conviction, finding that it was a crime of domestic violence. He challenged the denial in court.

The case rose to the appellate judges, with the issues narrowed before the appellate argument. The court ruled in late September that the battery charge could serve as a crime of violence sufficient to invoke the intent of the 1996 law concerning misdemeanor domestic violence. The ruling differs from rulings in other appellate courts in California that have found that battery charges may not necessarily involve sufficient violence to trigger the federal law.

One of the three judges on the panel in Fresno dissented, acknowledging that the threshold for triggering the federal law involves a crime "capable of causing physical pain or injury." The dissenting judge says that offensive touching is sufficient under California law to support a battery charge, and a mere touch is insufficient to satisfy the violent element of the federal gun control law.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Gun ban for those convicted of domestic violence upheld,” Bob Egelko, Sept. 24, 2013; Court of Appeal, Fifth District, California, “James v. State F065003," Sept. 24, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information


The Law Offices of Frederick R. Remer
1260 B Street
Suite 220
Hayward, CA 94541

Hayward Law Office Map

Fred Remer headshot.jpg