Family violence, also often referred to as domestic violence, is a serious category of criminal offenses. If you are convicted of family violence in Travis County, Hays County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, or anywhere else in Texas, the penalties can be steep. In addition, the ramifications of such a conviction will affect your gun ownership rights.

Criminal defense attorney Chris Perri has worked on many cases involving family violence in Austin and the surrounding areas, and the question of gun ownership comes up time and again. The truth is, if you’re wondering “Can I own a gun if I’ve been convicted of family violence in Texas?” the answer is most likely no. In this article, we’ll do our best to break down the facts when it comes to domestic violence, the law, and legal gun ownership.

What are the penalties of a domestic violence conviction in Texas?

Just as every situation is different, the outcome of every criminal court case is different. Thus, the exact penalties of a domestic violence conviction will vary, depending on:

  • The specific charge

  • County where the alleged offense occurred

  • Input from the complaining witness’ input (note that “complaining witness” is a legal term for the alleged victim)

  • Defendant’s prior criminal history

Nevertheless, common examples of punishment for family violence crimes include:

  • Jail or prison time

  • Expensive fines

  • Fulfillment of required classes and/or counseling

  • Loss of professional licenses

  • Loss of reputation 

  • Child custody issues

  • And, yes, loss of the legal right to own a firearm.

In Texas, do I lose my gun rights upon a family violence arrest?

Firstly, it is important to remember that according to the United States Constitution, every person should be considered innocent unless the prosecution proves them guilty. That means that even if you’ve been arrested, you should still be viewed as innocent.

Just because you’ve been charged with a domestic violence crime doesn’t mean you’ll lose your gun rights forever. However, if the judge believes the complaining witness’ safety could be in jeopardy, they may require you to temporarily turn over your firearms while the case is pending. 

When arrested, your first step should be to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney in Austin who has experience handling family violence cases, such as Chris Perri. If the lawyer can help you avoid a conviction, then once your case is closed, your legal gun rights will be fully restored.

People are wrongfully arrested all the time, and it is the job of a criminal defense attorney to defend your innocence. Even if you’re guilty, a defense lawyer can advocate on your behalf. For instance, an arrest is often a wake-up call for many people to make serious and meaningful life changes. Sometimes, a great defense lawyer can persuade the prosecution to take this into account and avoid a conviction. 

Even more, if your family violence arrest does not result in a conviction, then you may eventually be eligible to expunge the charge from your record. This means your record is wiped clean (of this charge). To learn more about expungements in Texas, click here.

Do domestic violence convictions prohibit gun ownership—even at the misdemeanor level?

Yes. According to federal law, anyone convicted of a felony is prohibited from legally owning or possessing a firearm for the rest of their life. This includes family violence felony convictions in Texas. 

Federal law also states that those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, including assault family violence, can never own a gun either. Misdemeanor family violence crimes are the only misdemeanor level offenses that include gun loss as a penalty.

 If being able to legally own and/or operate a firearm is important to you, then it’s essential to try to avoid a family violence conviction. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can help.

If I’ve been convicted of family violence in Texas, is there any possible way to restore my gun rights?

 If you’ve been convicted of domestic violence in Texas, the only way to restore your legal right to own a firearm is to overturn the criminal conviction through an appeal or writ of habeas corpus. If you’ve been convicted of family violence, you cannot own a gun — unless the conviction is overturned.

However, reversing a conviction is no easy task. It is a lengthy process and uphill battle. However, a top criminal defense attorney with extensive post-conviction experience, such as Chris Perri, may be able to help. If this is of interest, then keep in mind that the sooner you file an appeal or writ after the conviction, the better probability you have of overturning it. 

Chris Perri Law is here to fight on your behalf.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney based in Austin, Texas, Chris Perri has a high rate of success representing people accused of family violence. He’s helped people overturn convictions, win trials, prove self-defense, preserve their gun rights, expunge arrest records, and more. 

Serving Travis County, Hays County, Bastrop County, Williamson County, Bell County, and throughout Texas, contact Chris Perri at (512) 269-0260 or for a FREE consultation today. No matter your situation, you deserve the best defense.