Domestic Violence, Protective Orders And Guns: How Virginia's New Law Could Affect You

One of the major issues of the 2016 Presidential election was the Second Amendment’s right of Americans to bear arms. While we are aware that Second Amendment rights are not absolute— many individuals who are not permitted to own or carry a weapon (convicted felons, for example)— and locations where firearms are not allowed (schools and airports), Virginia residents can now add another restriction to the list.

As of July 1, 2016, any party who has a protective order entered against them is not permitted to have possession of a firearm.

A protective order is an order entered by a court in a civil (not criminal) case to ensure the safety and protection of someone who is or has been the victim of domestic violence. Protective orders are common in family law cases where there have been instances of abuse and/or threatened violence and stalking. Typically, a protective order contains no-contact/stay-away provisions restricting physical, email and phone contact with the victim, as well as prohibitions on harassment and stalking.

Under Virginia’s new law, any person who has had a protective order entered against them can be charged with and convicted of a felony if they are caught in possession of a gun. The law is applicable regardless of whether the person against whom a protective order has been entered uses a gun to threaten the victim whom the protective order is intended to protect or not.

Interestingly, the Virginia Legislature enacted the law to have retroactive effect. This means that the law applies not only to protective orders entered after July 1, 2016, but to any protective orders entered prior to July 1 that were still in effect on that date. This is especially important information for individuals who own a gun and have a protective order against them, because their once lawful activity has now become a felony. If this applies to you, you should contact a family law attorney right away so they can assist you in properly getting rid of your firearm without incurring criminal liability.

If you are concerned that domestic violence may be a factor in your divorce or child custody case, or have any other family law matter, you need to meet with a qualified family law attorney. The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you.

Contact one of the DiPietro family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (888) 530-4374, or visit us online.

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