Under a federal statute known as the Lautenberg Act, it is a crime for any person who has ever been convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" to possess a firearm. See 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(9). The Lautenberg Law was enacted by Congress in 1996. Violation of this statute is a federal offense that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. See 18 U.S.C. Section 924(a)(2). Under these federal criminal provisions, any conviction for domestic violence, domestic battery, domestic assault, or any similar charge makes it illegal to possess, own, buy, or sell a firearm.
Because of this federal law, when you completed the paperwork to purchase a firearm you were denied that opportunity.
Many people who enter a plea to a domestic violence charge, even a misdemeanor, are not aware that they are losing this important civil right. Unfortunately, the federal provisions of the Lautenberg Act provide for a life time ban.
Similar provisions apply to person who are currently subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Under Florida law, a domestic violence protective order or restraining order will contain a provision that the subject of the order may not possess a firearm. Section 741.30(1)(a), Florida Statute. If the alleged victim in the case alleges that you possess a firearm, the Sheriff's Office will usually send a law enforcement officer to seize the firearm. Additionally, judges usually impose a similar ban on possessing a firearm as a condition of bond for domestic violence charges well before any conviction occurs.
You indicate that your charge was from 2004. I assume that you were also convicted of the offense, but you do not indicate when the conviction occurred. There are various methods to attempt to have your conviction set aside under Florida Law if you have a viable claim, however strict time limits apply. For instance, a Rule 3.850 motion must be filed within 2 years of when your conviction became final (which starts either 30 days after you entered the plea or immediately after a mandate is returned after a direct appeal). The Rule 3.850 motion is usually filed when it is alleged that you had ineffective assistance of counsel. It can be filed after a plea or trial. I assume that you entered a plea. For the motion to be filed in that case, you must show that your plea was somehow coerced. The fact that your attorney did not tell you about losing this important civil right is considered a "collateral issue" and is normally not sufficient. However, it can be considered along with other factors indicating that your plea was coerced.
Even if you prevailed on the Rule 3.850 Motion, you would be put back in the position you were immediately before you entered the plea, which would mean facing a trial on the charge. However, it is possible to go to trial and win the case, or to negotiate a disposition that does not cause a conviction.
Criminal defense Misdemeanor crime Crimes against persons Criminal charges for assault and battery Domestic violence and criminal charges Civil rights of defendants in criminal cases Criminal sentencing Criminal record Appealing a criminal conviction Restraining order and criminal defense Federal crime Civil rights Appeals Gun rights