Yes and no. You can't appeal the case because the time limit is long gone. The standard answer most attorneys will provide is "no" because of the domestic violence conviction. However, you have several alternatives based upon state and federal gun laws. I recommend contacting an attorney that understands California and federal gun laws.
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I am going to recategorize your question so that you receive a higher quality answer. Best of luck.
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Unfortunately, this is a federal law that forbids anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from being able to own a firearm.
See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1-9). Sorry.
The only way to have your rights "restored" with a domestic violence conviction is by a pardon from the Governor, and I don't know if anyone with such a conviction has ever received one.
That being said, if the victim wasn't living with you, or even romantically involved with you, you do not meet the criteria for a "domestic violence" conviction, unless you pled to a crime that assumes you had such a relationship. If that happened, your attorney likely committed malpractice. If it is clear from the record that she did not live with you and you were not in a relationship, then it may be worth talking to an attorney to determine if there is any way to make it so your conviction does not qualify as prohibiting. Lately there has been movement on these cases with respect to whether the act was sufficient to qualify for the federal ban, so I don't see why one couldn't ask for the same relief with respect to whether their relationship qualifies for it. But, I would have to look into it. Finally, another problem is going to be finding the record of the case from 1988, even assuming there is anything in there about your relationship with the victim. You should talk to attorneys who have a proven knowledge of state and federal firearm laws, as well as doing writs and dealing with the CA Dept. of Justice and FBI.
Michel & Associates, PC
All my comments here are intended for general legal purposes. None of my comments here establish an attorney-client relationship with anyone. None of my comments should be relied on in taking legal action without first consulting an attorney.
I agree with my colleague. Your situation is difficult though not impossible. Please do not take this as legal advice. However you will have to be willing to pay an attorney to look closely into your case to discover whether something can be done.
You are correct. The record was never expunged. The comment I posted to someone asking whether they should take a diversion program in a theft case may interest you:
"Because government agencies always maintain a record of everything" that occurs in the criminal justice system. Expungement in one context maybe meaningless in another. For example early in my career I represented law enforcement employees in both their personnel hearings and in criminal charges filed against them.
Sadly, law enforcement personnel would sometimes have domestic violence charges lodged against them. This would result in a criminal charges and a personnel board hearing to determine whether the employee was fit to continue in law enforcement. Breaking laws is inconsistent with obeying laws.
In the days before OJ Simpson the DA would frequently offer a diversion program for misdemeanor Domestic Violence charges. This meant that the accused was diverted into domestic violence classes and counseling. If the defendant successfully completed the program the charges were dropped. In California the Defendant could truthfully state they were never convicted of a domestic violence charge.
Many law enforcement personnel took this type plea whether they were guilty or not. It was the easy way out at the time. As you have been encouraged by a respected colleague, they took the deal without speaking to attorney. When a conviction would almost certainly end their careers, this one allowed to continue in their careers, with this appearing as a blip on the radar screen.
The OJ Simpson trial inspired two major changes in the law. First the diversion programs were revoked and replaced it with deferred entry of judgment. Now the accused must plead guilty to the domestic violence charge to stay out of jail.
The second change, Congress amended the Federal Fire Arms Act with the Lautenberg Amendment that reads:
"Anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."
The federal government and many law enforcement agencies interpreted the amendment to read that entering a diversion program meant the individual was convicted or sentenced by the court regardless of their plea. Thus many law enforcement officers who entered diversion to save their careers, ended up losing the right to carry a gun under the Lautenberg Amendment.
If you can not carry a weapon you can work as a law enforcement officer. Simple, i trying to save their job, they lost their job."