Currently, persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are prohibited from possessing firearms for three years from the date of conviction under Minnesota law, but prohibited for life under federal law.

What is a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence and what is not?

The first is to ensure the offense resulted in an actual conviction. Stays of adjudication, where a person pleads guilty to an offense, but successful completion of probation results in a dismissal of the charge, do not count as firearms prohibitors.

The second is to ensure that the relationship is one that is defined as a domestic relationship. In Minnesota, a domestic relationship is defined much more broadly than under federal law. In Minnesota, sibling disputes, roommate disputes, and children assaulting their parents can all be charged as domestic violence offenses. Under federal law, a qualifying domestic violence offense must involve a romantic relationship, or a parental figure assaulting a child.

The next is to ensure the offense is at least a misdemeanor conviction. For example, petty misdemeanor, which is punishable by no more than a $300 fine and is not a criminal conviction, will not cause a federal firearms prohibition.

Last, one should ensure that the offense involves the use of force or the threatened use of a weapon, or it will also not be considered a federal firearms prohibition. In Minnesota, one can be convicted of domestic assault by doing an act with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm, rather than actually causing bodily harm. The intent to cause fear clause of the Minnesota domestic assault statute does not cause a federal firearms prohibition because the offense does not have, as an element, the use of force against another person. This is assuming that the act that was done with the intent to cause fear was not threatening another with a weapon, which is usually a felony terroristic threats charge or a felony second degree assault charge instead.

Last, be aware that even convictions that are not “domestic assault” in name can be considered a federal firearms prohibition. For example, a conviction for disorderly conduct under the brawling and fighting clause is still considered a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence if committed against a romantic partner or by a parent against a child.