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In United States vs. Hayes , The United States Supreme Court looked at the interaction of domestic assault charges and the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968. Some years ago, the issue came up that the act not only prevented felons from owning guns but it also prevented persons convicted of “a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” 18 U. S. C. §922(g)(9) . The question arose in case of a person being charged with these crimes , but who plead to something else, were they also barred?

Since 1996 in Minnesota, a conviction for Domestic Assault (609.2242) resulted in a lifetime ban on the possession of firearms and ammunition. Often the person would plead to a straight assault (609.224), believing that removing the domestic relationship from the elements of the offense of conviction would solve the firearm issue.

Looking at Hayes , the issue is the underlying facts rather than the label of the conviction. The Court made a distinction between Congress’ use of the word "element" as meaning use of force on someone that they live with versus the use of the word "elements" and the need to show other factors. This ruling seems to make clear that regardless of what you call it, if the victim of an assault was a domestic person, a lifetime gun ban will apply.

Back in 1996, there were a number of stories about police officers and other officials who might be facing gun bans. This new ruling may reignite those very same issues. If nothing else it again points out the importance of talking to experienced attorneys when you face criminal charges. Although, the landscape did change even after a plea, which has to be a great concern for all of those who thought they plead with a full understanding at the time.

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