How Does a Domestic Violence Conviction Impact Gun Rights in Utah?

Businessman in handcuffs after being charged with domestic violence

25 Jan 2024 /

How Does a Domestic Violence Conviction Impact Gun Rights in Utah?

Domestic Violence and Gun Rights

Facing domestic violence charges in Utah can be scary and confusing. If convicted, you may lose the right to own or buy guns. Both Utah and federal laws prohibit firearms for those convicted of domestic violence crimes.

This guide explains how Utah laws address domestic violence, possible criminal penalties, and the firearm prohibitions you may face. It also covers defense lawyer options, regaining gun ownership rights, and frequently asked legal questions.

We aim to educate because legal issues impact lives profoundly. Knowledge and preparation empower wise choices. Let’s walk through this complex landscape together.

Our attorneys at Gravis Law deliver optimal case outcomes for you with the utmost discretion and empathy. With years of experience, we have years of proven outcomes. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation. 

Defining Domestic Violence Under Utah Law

Utah law defines domestic violence (or domestic abuse) as attempting or intentionally causing harm against a spouse or partner, such as:

  • Assault (trying or threatening to hurt someone)

  • Violating a protective order

  • Stalking

  • Harming a partner’s property or pets

  • Kidnapping

  • Sexual abuse

A first offense for a domestic violence misdemeanor may lead to fines up to $5,000 and jail time up to one year. Felony charges allow harsher punishments like prison time.

Losing Gun Rights After a Conviction

A domestic violence conviction bars firearms ownership and purchase under both Utah Code 76-10-503 and federal statutes. The loss of gun rights applies even after finishing other sentencing terms (jail, probation, etc.).

Utah law requires defendants to surrender firearms after charges are filed. If convicted, the court informs the defendant they cannot own guns while the protective order stands. The ban stays on their record permanently unless restored through a court petition.

Federal law also bars firearms access by:

  • Felons

  • Fugitives

  • Substance abusers

  • Those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors

  • Others who present a danger if armed

So a state domestic violence conviction activates a federal firearms prohibition too.

Why Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Vital

Facing domestic allegations feels overwhelming. Emotions run high, and legal problems now complicate life. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help make sense of options while building the strongest case possible. Key attorney roles include:

  • Listening to your side

  • Explaining potential consequences

  • Gathering evidence and mounting a defense

  • Negotiating with prosecutors

  • Trial representation if no plea deal reached

A criminal defense attorney focuses solely on your best interests. Don’t navigate the legal system alone. Defense lawyers ease fears and increase acquittal chances.

Paths to Regaining Gun Rights

Losing firearm rights feels severe to many Utahns. Hunting and self-protection matter greatly in rural areas. If convicted of domestic violence, is there any way to own guns again legally?

Yes, but the path involves many careful steps:

Expungement

Expunging a record seals a conviction from public view and restores some rights. Talk to a domestic violence lawyer, as rules differ by state. In Utah, expungement waits 3-10 years for misdemeanors and 7-15 for felonies after finishing all sentencing terms.

Petition the Court

Utahns may petition the convicting court once any protective order expires. If the judge approves, firearms rights apply going forward but don’t erase the conviction history.

Pardons

Those convicted can request an executive pardon. For Utah, this means directly petitioning the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. Pardons show remorse, rehabilitation, and model citizenship. They acknowledge efforts to improve life after serving all sentencing requirements. If granted, pardons restore gun rights.

Civil Rights Restored

Federal law allows those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors to petition for restored civil rights – including firearm ownership. You must state to the court that gun possession now serves the public interest.

The process demands patience and good legal counsel. But regaining gun access after a conviction is possible in some cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If my partner withdraws abuse claims, will charges go away?

Not necessarily. Police and prosecutors decide independently whether evidence justifies prosecution. But victim cooperation helps, so consult a lawyer on constructive options.

2. How much will a defense lawyer cost for domestic violence charges?

Costs vary by case complexity, lawyer experience levels, and length of proceedings. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations, so ask for fee structures. Overall costs may range from $2,000 to $100,000 or more.

3. Can I refuse to testify against my partner?

You can refuse under the 5th Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. However, charges may proceed anyway based on other evidence. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can best advise you.

4. What happens if I violate the protective order?

You may face new charges for protective order violations. Punishments can include fines or jail time. Never take this risk lightly.

5. Will a conviction impact child custody rights?

Possibly. Judges may see domestic abuse as jeopardizing child safety. Custody right depend on evidence, so experienced legal counsel is vital.

Determining How to Retain Your Gun Rights Through Criminal Defense Laws 

Domestic disputes shouldn’t become legal nightmares. Wise decisions now can profoundly influence life’s trajectory, so seek counsel right away. Whether charges seem false or represent a reality we wish didn’t exist, know that hope lives beyond current darkness.

Walk forward courageously. Seek wisdom and human kindness over reactions that further harm. Protect yourself and loved ones, but also reflect on what matters most. 

Facing domestic violence charges can be a turning point in your life. The decisions you make now, particularly in choosing the right legal representation, can have lasting impacts. Don’t navigate this complex legal landscape alone. Let Gravis Law stand by your side and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today at 385.707.0432 or complete our online form

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