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Appellate judges rule against California man over domestic issue

In November we discussed the issue of communication in divorce. It may not come as a surprise to many in the Bay Area that disputes between spouses are not uncommon when a marriage breaks down. In some instances, a dispute may lead to domestic violence allegations. Husbands and wives alike may be accused of domestic violence in California, and the accusations can have consequences in a divorce proceeding, criminal court and in other areas beyond the immediate circumstances.

A man from Southern California was convicted in 1996 of domestic violence. The alleged victim was not his wife at the time—the man and woman in the domestic violence case were boyfriend and girlfriend. But, a California misdemeanor domestic violence conviction was entered on the man’s record.

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence—even a misdemeanor conviction under state law—from possessing a gun. In 2010, the man was prosecuted in federal court for unlawfully possessing guns.

The man appealed the 2010 conviction, arguing that the lifetime ban on gun possession based upon the domestic violence record violated his constitutional right to bear arms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is chambered in San Francisco, rejected the man’s argument in November. The judges reasoned that Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment right to bear arms says that the right is not absolute.

Misdemeanor domestic violence issues can have a wide variety of consequences that can arise outside of criminal court proceedings. Domestic abuse can affect child custody issues in family court. The court of public opinion could kick in, leading to consequences outside of the courthouse—these consequences could arise in social circles, as well as in the workplace.

Source: KTVU San Francisco, “Court upholds law barring domestic violence offenders from owning guns,” Nov. 19, 2013

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