Should individuals convicted of minor domestic violence, or family violence charges, be allowed to own or possess firearms when the charges involve recklessness as opposed to intentionally or knowingly? This was the question posed to the Supreme Court in Voisine v U.S. The Court answered this question NO in a 6-2 opinion written by Justice Kagan on the last day of this term.
This case from Maine, revolved around the 1996 amendment to the Federal Gun Control Act. This amendment prohibited those convicted of family violence offenses from owning or possessing firearms. Violating this Federal law carried the possibility of a 10-year maximum federal felony charge.
Stephen Voisine had a previous conviction for family violence. Subsequent to his conviction, he was alleged to have been in possession of firearms. Mr. Voisine challenged this Federal Amendment when he was convicted in 2011 with possessing a firearm.
How Does the Supreme Court Ruling Affect Gun Rights in Texas
States were left to define domestic or family violence offenses. Texas law includes three culpable mental states. One can commit family violence intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. In the above case the Supreme Court decided that “reckless assault” met the definition of the 1996 Amendment.
In Texas, a guilty plea to the misdemeanor offense of Assault Bodily Injury with a family violence finding would preclude one from owning or possessing a firearm under Federal law. The Court’s ruling gives clearer insight into what we already know.
Even if you are placed on probation for Assault Bodily Injury to a family member you will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm. As if restricting one’s Second Amendment rights was bad enough, a subsequent arrest for Assault Bodily Injury to a family member is increased to a third degree felony in Texas as opposed to a simple class A misdemeanor.
What does this ruling mean to Texas? It is clear, if you are convicted of Assault Bodily Injury to a family member in Texas, you can’t legally possess a firearm under Federal law. But what if you get your case reduced to Assault by Contact?
I believe this issue is still unresolved. Assault by Contact is a class C misdemeanor that encompasses an “offensive touching”. Would the Supreme Court include this under the 1996 Amendment to the Federal Gun Control Act? What if the State waives the family violence finding on a class C assault? As the law ever evolves, this issue may definitively be resolved by the highest court in Texas or the United States.
Assault Bodily Injury to a Family Member has serious collateral consequences. If you or a loved one has been charged with any level of assault, aggravated assault, family violence, it is important to consult and experienced Tarrant County assault defense attorney.
The team of attorneys at Tarrant County based Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC are former state prosecutors. They possess the skill and experience to build the strongest assault defense on your behalf. Contact Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC at (817) 502-3600 for a free initial consultation.
Townsend, Gebhardt, & Eppes, PLLC strongly defend individuals throughout the greater Fort Worth area, including Arlington, Weatherford, Cleburne, and many surrounding communities.