The Supreme Court today decided not to loosen the restrictions that prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor counts of domestic violence from owning a gun. The court ruled on this fact 6-2. The arguments were made by two men from Maine who had prior domestic violence convictions and who stated that their past convictions weren’t the type that should prevent them from owning a firearm. The men argued that their previous domestic violence convictions shouldn’t trigger the gun ban if their prior offenses involved reckless behavior and not intentionally violent conduct. The first defendant had previous domestic violence offenses and was charged with illegal gun possession after police officers found his guns at his house while executing a search warrant for illegal marijuana. The second defendant was arrested for shooting a bald eagle. When authorities found out about his previous domestic violence conviction, they added new charges of a firearm violation. The Supreme Court disagreed in a 12-page opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan read the Court’s decision here. The public policy that influenced this case is of extreme importance. This case wasn’t originally the most prominent matter on the Supreme Court’s docket. However, the questions in the oral arguments prompted by Justice Clarence Thomas greatly increased the public’s attention.
This has extreme implications for people who have been charged with this kind of crime. You could be found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for even just destroying a past lover or spouse’s property. Public policy takes domestic violence very seriously and in turn the government and relating law enforcement personnel have to take it very seriously. Too often do people view cases of domestic violence with hindsight bias, which is once it’s over, the situation becomes very clear to see and everyone thinks something should have been done to prevent it when at the time no one could have seen it coming. However, these types of cases are highly emotional and have a lot of different factors that influence it and that is why it is so hard to predict the outcome. However, these kinds of crimes are usually what the public sees when people are running for political office or higher ranking law enforcement officials. This case is a really good example of how public opinion can really drive the rulings of the Supreme Court and all the courts below it.
We are very experienced with domestic violence cases at our office. Everyone’s case is unique and different and you should contact an attorney right away if you are charged with this crime. The following blogs may be of use to you as well.
By Shannon Lynch