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Domestic violence charges and the right to have guns

In Pennsylvania, people convicted of crimes involving domestic violence are prohibited from possessing firearms and are required to relinquish any guns in their possession. This is the case even when the specific domestic violence crime is a misdemeanor.

Those who have a domestic violence protective order, even a temporary one, taken out against them may also be prohibited from possessing firearms. They may also be ordered to relinquish these weapons and ammunition. A domestic violence order can be taken out by a family member or someone who is or was in an intimate relationship with that person.

There's a reason for these restrictions. Research has shown that a woman's chance of being killed by domestic violence increases by 500 percent if there is a gun in the home.

Under state law, police officers are required to take all weapons believed to have been used by someone in an incident of domestic violence as well as any guns in that person's possession when they make an arrest.

When a Pennsylvania resident is ordered to turn in guns and/or ammunition, it must be given to a licensed dealer, law enforcement or a third party who has a safekeeping permit issued by law enforcement. Pennsylvania State Police keep a registry of protection orders and consent agreements, including whether guns and/or ammunition were ordered to be relinquish.

Charges of domestic violence can impact a person's life in many and consequential ways. An experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can work to help ensure that your rights are protected as you go through the criminal justice system.

Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, "Domestic Violence & Firearms in Pennsylvania," accessed Oct. 14, 2015

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