Domestic violence is a serious crime. Known as domestic assault in Michigan, it’s a crime that’s incredibly common. Under Michigan law, assuming the person charged has no prior domestic assault convictions on his or her record, domestic assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor. Both domestic assault (when the victim is not injured) and aggravated domestic assault (when the victim receives serious or aggravated injuries) are misdemeanors. Domestic assault is a 93-day misdemeanor, and aggravated domestic assault is a one-year misdemeanor.
The Right to Possess a Firearm Under Michigan and Federal Laws
Domestic assault charges are especially concerning for individuals who want to possess a firearm. These include hunters, police officers, military personnel, or CCW holders. State and federal laws differ regarding gun possession and ownership. For instance, you must be 18 to purchase a gun in Michigan. To purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, you must be at least 21. Anyone convicted of a felony is barred from possessing a firearm under federal law.
Many wonder, “Can I own a gun after a domestic violence conviction?” In Michigan, restrictions on gun rights begin the minute an individual is charged with domestic violence.
Once charged with domestic violence, an individual is prohibited from obtaining a license to purchase, carry, or transport a pistol (this is the tan card obtained from a gun store that must then be filed with the local police department). However, if enough time has passed, your conviction may be eligible for expungement.
Can I Still Own a Gun After a Domestic Violence Conviction?
If charged with domestic violence, regardless of guilt or innocence, an individual may not apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Further, if an individual charged with domestic violence has a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), they’ll receive notice from the County Concealed Weapons Licensing Board that any existing CPL is suspended.
At the first court hearing after being charged with domestic violence, called an arraignment, the court will almost always enter a “No Contact Order” preventing the individual charged from having contact with their accuser.
Under Michigan law, a domestic violence no-contact order means that an individual cannot purchase, possess, or receive a gun and also cannot obtain a new CPL.
Additionally, any existing CPL will be revoked by the Board.
Regardless of whether an individual is charged with domestic violence, bond, and pretrial release, court orders almost always contain a provision that the person charged isn’t “to possess or purchase a firearm or other dangerous weapon.”
Does Federal Law Matter When I Want to Purchase a Handgun in Michigan?
If ultimately convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in Michigan, an individual is prohibited under Michigan law from obtaining a CPL for eight years following the conviction.
Federal law, however, is much tougher. For almost 50 years now, federal law has been rather clear that individuals who have convictions for domestic violence charges cannot legally possess firearms.
when domestic violence or harassment restraining order is out against you.
In Michigan, an individual must be 21 years or older to buy a pistol from a Federal-Firearm License Dealer (FFL) and 18 years or older to purchase from a private seller.
Only Michigan residents may purchase a pistol in Michigan. When purchasing a pistol through an FFL dealer, the dealer will have the individual fill out ATF form 4473.
The dealer will then call the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), provide the individual’s information to the FBI, and the FBI will then complete a background check and let the dealer know whether the individual is approved or denied.
If an individual seeks to purchase a pistol from a private seller and not an FFL dealer, they must first obtain and fill out a pistol purchase permit from their local police agency (city police department or county sheriff’s department).
Michigan’s purchase permit specifically asks whether an individual has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
Michigan’s domestic assault and aggravated domestic assault charges don’t include using a weapon. Instead, Michigan has a separate offense, assault with a deadly weapon, which is a felony.
As you can see, Michigan and federal laws greatly differ, and the need for an experienced and proven attorney to navigate these areas is a must.
What Can I Do to Retain or Restore My Gun Rights?
If you’re wondering if you can still own a gun after being charged or convicted of a domestic violence offense or are the subject of a restraining order, you’ll want to speak with our experienced gun rights attorneys. If your charges are successfully expunged, you’re likely eligible to purchase a firearm.
Are you interested in expungement to restore your gun rights? can make sure that you understand the extent to which your gun rights have been limited and can work with you to see if you qualify to have your conviction expunged.