New U.S. Gun Law Targets “Boyfriend Loophole,” Impacting Florida Domestic Violence Convicts

A Florida domestic violence conviction can carry many substantial, long-lasting consequences – not the least of which being restrictions on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer from the very start of your case. Even if the evidence seems stacked against you, we may be able to deploy legal strategies that could reduce the charges or lessen the impact. Fort Lauderdale domestic violence arrest

The high stakes of these cases were recently underscored in the Congressional action to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” in gun legislation.

Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence in Florida or in any other state from possessing guns. However, that provision was only applicable to individuals who were married to, lived with, or had a child in common with the alleged victim. People who were merely dating (not married, living together, or raising a child together) were not subject to this federal provision.

The new bipartisan gun law changes this, closing the “boyfriend loophole.” Proponents of the measure say this was necessary, given that people spend much more time dating now than they did in the past, carrying on romantic relationships for years or even decades without officially tying the knot.

Additionally, the new federal law allows for expanded background checks on young adults purchasing firearms and gives authorities the power to access certain juvenile criminal records. Lastly, the law allows states to use federal funding to enact and enforce “red flag laws” that give authorities the right to remove guns from anyone they suspect may be a harm to themselves or others. This could potentially be someone accused of domestic violence in Florida.

As it stands, 31 states have some rule on the books barring those convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns. Of those, 19 do cover dating partners convicted of domestic violence. Florida does not have any such provision in its laws, so the new federal law will have a direct impact. Those with misdemeanor convictions who have stayed out of trouble for five years may be able to have their gun rights restored. However, there are exceptions for spouses, parents, guardians or co-habitants – all of whom may still face lifetime firearm restrictions.

Florida Domestic Violence Penalties

This new federal law is just one more reason those facing Broward domestic violence charges need to secure legal representation immediately. Penalties for Florida domestic violence convictions are already stiff as it is.

F.s. 741.28 defines domestic violence battery as touching or striking a family member, household member, or domestic partner against their will. Penalties for a conviction of a domestic violence offense can include:

  • Mandatory jail time if the offense resulted in injury.
  • Permanent criminal record.
  • Deportation. (Domestic violence is a deportable offense for immigration purposes.)
  • Ineligible for sealing or expungement.
  • Mandatory counseling (at your own expense).

And often, it does not matter if the alleged victim suddenly decides not to cooperate with prosecutors. The state attorney’s office has the full authority to pursue that case against you with or without the victim’s cooperation. So even if the pair of you work it out, the case against you may still move forward.

A conviction for domestic violence battery as a first-degree misdemeanor carries a jail sentence of up to one year, plus one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. State law does indicate that you may have to forfeit your gun while on probation, even if convicted for a misdemeanor, but that is up to the discretion of the court. So at least at the state level, that outcome isn’t guaranteed.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with domestic violence battery or other related charges in Fort Lauderdale, our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers can help.

Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

F.S. 741.28, Domestic Violence Definitions, Florida Statute

More Blog Entries:

Broward Defense Lawyer Breaks Down Florida Criminal Case Process, March 1, 2022, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog

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