For many Ohioans, gun ownership isn’t just a right. But what if a legal misstep jeopardized that right?

Certain convictions can strip you of your firearm ownership, and as defense lawyers practicing across Ohio, Erb Legal has seen firsthand how seriously people take their 2nd amendment rights. It’s not just about having a gun; it’s about what it represents— protection and peace of mind.

Here, we’ll discuss what criminal charges can strip you of your gun rights, how to preserve them, and how to restore your legal ability to own a firearm.

How Ohioans Lose Their Gun Rights

If you’re convicted of certain crimes in Ohio, you lose your right to own a gun. These include serious charges like felonies, domestic violence, and certain drug offenses. However, a criminal conviction is not always required.

Sometimes, your ability to possess a firearm can be restricted by the terms of specific protection orders, mere domestic violence allegations, mental health designations, and other situations that don’t involve formal criminal convictions.

  • Felony Convictions: Any felony conviction will result in losing gun rights. This includes violent crimes, theft, and other serious offenses.
  • Drug Offenses: Both state and federal drug convictions can impact your ability to own a firearm. This includes possession, trafficking, and manufacturing of controlled substances.
  • Mental Health Adjudications: Being adjudicated as mentally ill or incompetent can result in the loss of gun rights. This often involves court orders or findings related to mental health conditions.
  • Protection Orders: If a court issues a domestic violence protection order against you, it typically includes a prohibition on purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • Parole or Probation Conditions: Sometimes, as part of parole or probation conditions, individuals are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Ohio

Ohio has no state law explicitly prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition. However, federal law applies, and under the Gun Control Act, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence under federal law cannot possess firearms.

Firearm Seizure in Domestic Violence Cases

Ohio law mandates that police officers responding to an alleged incident of domestic violence or a violation of a protection order must seize any weapon used, brandished, or threatened to be used in the incident. Seized firearms must be permanently given to law enforcement, sold at public auction or to a federally licensed firearms dealer, or destroyed.

Potential Issues with Firearm Seizure

The seizure of firearms in domestic violence situations is to protect victims and prevent further violence. However, it assumes guilt based on allegations alone, potentially violating due process and permanently losing valuable firearms without immediate legal recourse. This can result in significant financial loss and leave individuals feeling vulnerable, mainly if they rely on their guns for protection.

The Risk of Misuse in Personal Disputes

Additionally, there is a risk of the law being misused in personal disputes, leading to false allegations aimed at disarming someone out of spite rather than genuine safety concerns.

For example, consider a contentious divorce where one spouse falsely accuses the other of domestic violence to gain leverage in a custody dispute. Under the current law, the accused spouse’s firearms would be seized immediately based on the allegation alone. This action could unfairly disarm the accused, leaving them without their legally owned firearms and potentially damaging their reputation and legal standing, all while the true motive behind the accusation is not genuine safety but personal gain.

Can You Restore Your Gun Rights?

Restoring your gun rights after a conviction or as part of resolving a domestic violence arrest can be challenging, but with the right approach and legal guidance, it is possible. Here’s how you can start:

Are You Eligible for Restoration?

Not everyone is eligible to restore their gun rights. Determine if you meet the criteria for restoration, which often involves completing probation or parole, having no subsequent convictions, and demonstrating rehabilitation.

Petition to Reinstate Your Gun Rights

You’ll need to file a formal petition with the court. This petition should include all necessary documentation and evidence to support your case for restoring your firearm rights.

Prove Your Rehabilitation

Demonstrating that you have been rehabilitated is crucial. This can involve providing letters from employers, community leaders, or other character witnesses. It’s also beneficial to show that you have complied with all legal requirements since your conviction.

Get Legal Assistance

Given the complexity of the legal process, it’s highly recommended to seek assistance from an experienced attorney who can guide you through the necessary steps and improve your chances of a successful outcome.

How to Protect Your Gun Rights in Ohio

Facing criminal charges can be daunting for anyone, significantly if the outcome can restrict or revoke your ability to own, carry, or otherwise possess a firearm.  For many, this is a fundamental freedom that should not be sacrificed without consideration.  So, it’s crucial to approach criminal charges with a clear understanding of the consequences.

Understand the Full Scope of Charges

Recognize how specific charges can affect your gun rights. Felony convictions, drug offenses, and domestic violence charges can all lead to the loss of your firearm rights. Additionally, mental health adjudications and protection orders can also impact your ability to own a gun. Consult with a lawyer to understand all potential consequences before making any decisions. An experienced attorney can clarify how each charge might affect your gun ownership and what steps can be taken to mitigate these impacts.

Evaluate Plea “Deals” That Would Impact Your Gun Rights

Law enforcement and prosecutors may not fully explain the implications of a plea agreement regarding your firearm rights. For example, consider the case of State v. Mark. Here, an individual argued that he wasn’t adequately informed about losing these rights when he accepted his plea deal. The court ruled against him, emphasizing that the legal consequences of future laws don’t need to be disclosed at the time of the plea. This case highlights the importance of understanding all potential outcomes before accepting a plea deal, as you might unknowingly give up important rights.

Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen affirmed that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home. This decision stresses that gun laws must align with historical traditions and reinforces the significance of safeguarding your firearm rights from the outset. When considering a plea deal, it’s crucial to understand how it might affect your gun rights fully. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you weigh the long-term consequences and make an informed decision.

Consider the Long-Term Implications

Remember that decisions made now can affect your rights for years to come. It’s hard to think about if you’re dealing with a possible felony conviction and jail time versus accepting a conviction but anointing time behind bars. But if your gun rights are important to you, weigh the long-term consequences of accepting a plea or going to trial.

Accepting a plea deal might resolve your case quickly, but it could result in the permanent loss of your gun rights. Conversely, going to trial might offer a chance to retain your rights, but it also carries risks.

Seek Professional Legal Help to Protect Your 2nd Amendment Rights

At Erb Legal, we have extensive experience fighting to restore gun rights for our clients. We understand the deep personal significance of this issue and are passionate about helping Ohioans navigate the legal complexities involved. Ensuring you are fully informed about potential consequences can significantly affect your case and your future.

Losing the right to own a firearm is a significant issue that can have profound impacts on personal protection, legal standing, and financial stability. At Erb Legal, we aim to help you navigate these challenges, understand your rights, and work towards restoring them. If you’re facing charges in Northeast Ohio that affect your gun rights, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional legal help to preserve and restore your rights effectively. Call 330-869-9007 to schedule a consultation.

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