Domestic Violence Crimes and Gun Rights in Rhode Island

Fight your domestic violence charge with a Rhode Island domestic violence lawyer and protect your gun rights!

We know that domestic violence crimes can have serious repercussions on your family life, your employment, and even your right to possess and own firearms.  Domestic violence charges require the legal skill and expertise of dedicated Rhode Island domestic violence attorneys. Our lawyers understand there are always two sides to every story, which is why we take the time to listen to yours and build your individual defense.

Arrested for domestic violence? Worried about the impact this could have on your right to legally own a firearm? Call us today at (401) 245-5100.

Rhode Island Firearms Act

Consistent with the Federal government and many other states, in Rhode Island, individuals have historically been prohibited from owning and possessing firearms if they had been convicted of a crime of violence or a felony offense. However, in 2017, the Rhode Island General Assembly overhauled the Rhode Island Firearms Act and stripped individuals of their gun rights after a plea or conviction to misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence crime in Rhode Island and are a gun owner, you should consider hiring an attorney to fight these charges so that you may preserve your gun rights.

What is a “firearm” in Rhode Island?

Under Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47-5 a “firearm” includes:

  • a machine gun
  • a pistol
  • a rifle
  • an air rifle
  • an air pistol
  • a “blank gun”
  • a “BB gun”
  • any instrument from which steel or metal projectiles are propelled, or which may readily be converted to expel a projectile
  • the frame or receiver of a weapon

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges and Gun Rights

Under Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47-5 and § 12-29-5, no person shall purchase, own, carry, transport, or have in his or her possession any firearm if that person has, in Rhode Island or elsewhere, entered a plea of nolo contendere to or been convicted of the following misdemeanor domestic violence offenses:

Additionally, those who enter a plea of nolo contendere or are convicted or domestic disorderly conduct will also lose their gun rights if the offense involved the use or attempted use of force or the threatened use of a dangerous weapon.

Surrender of Firearms After Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Offenses

Those individuals who are prohibited from possessing, purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting a firearm due to a plea or conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge will be required to surrender all firearms that they own within twenty-four (24 hours) of the plea or conviction. Surrender may be made to the Rhode Island State Police, local police department, or a licensed gun dealer.

Within forty-eight (48) hours the individual must also file a copy of proof of surrender with the court.   The State or local police or gun dealer will issue a proof of surrender to the person surrendering the firearm. The proof of surrender must include the name of the person, the date of surrender, and the serial number, manufacturer, and model of all surrendered firearms.

Along with the proof of surrender, the individual must also attest either:

  1. That all firearms owned by the person or in the person’s possession at the time of plea or conviction have been surrendered or
  2. That the person owned no firearms and had no firearms in their possession

How to Restore Gun Rights After a Domestic Violence Charge

Those individuals whose gun rights were affected after a misdemeanor domestic violence charge may file a motion in the District Court in order to petition to have the firearm prohibition lifted. When they are eligible to do so will depend on their sentence. An individual may file said motion if:

  • They have been sentenced to a one-year filing and the filing is complete
  • They have been sentenced to a one-year probation sentence and have completed the probationary period
  • The sentence was not a filing or one year probation sentence (such as a suspended sentence or jail sentence), the individual will need to wait five (5) years from the date of the completion of his or her sentence.
    • However, if during that five (5)-year period, the person enters a plea or is convicted of a new misdemeanor domestic violence offense, then they will not be eligible to file this motion until they have waited an additional six (6) years
  • The charge has been expunged

At the hearing on the motion, the court is only permitted to consider:

  1. Whether the required amount of time to retrieve the firearms has expired and
  2. That no other legal prohibition exists to prevent the individual from retrieving his or her firearms

If the court grants an individual’s motion, the court must issue a written notice or order stating that the person is no longer prohibited from purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting, or having in his or her possession any firearm.  That notice or order should then be provided to the facility storing the firearms that were surrendered. At such time, they will be required to return the surrendered firearms.

Penalties for Gun Crimes After a Domestic Violence Conviction

Anyone who possesses, purchases, owns, carries, or transports a firearm after a domestic violence conviction will be sentenced to mandatory jail time for not less than two (2) year nor more than ten (10) years.

Contact Our Knowledgeable Team Today

Our Rhode Island domestic violence defense attorneys are skilled and experienced defense lawyers who are ready to fight for you. With your reputation, family, career, and gun rights on the line, do not hesitate. Get our lawyers working for you today! Call 401-245-5100.

Don’t wait any longer to tell us about your charges in a free case evaluation.