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On September 30, 1996, the Lautenberg Amendment became law. It is now a felony for any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition. Any person who transfers, issues, or sells firearms to a person with a Lautenberg qualifying conviction may also be charged with a felony offense under the Lautenberg Amendment. This provision includes military commanders who issue weapons to soldiers with qualifying convictions.

The following convictions are qualifying convictions for a “Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence”: 

  1. The person was convicted of a misdemeanor crime, and the offense had as an element of the use or attempted use of physical force, or threatened use of a deadly weapon; and
  2. The convicted offender was at the time of the offense: a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim; a person with whom the victim shared a child in common; a person who was cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or a person who was similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim; and,
  3. The convicted offender was represented by counsel, or knowingly and intelligently waived the right to counsel; and, if entitled to have the case tried by a jury, the case was actually tried by a jury or the person knowingly and intelligently waived the right to have the case tried by a jury; and d. The conviction has not been expunged or set aside.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge, it is critical that you contact a court martial defense lawyer who understands Lautenberg and its effect on service members.

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