Friday, April 28, 2006

Case Law Development: What are Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence for Purposes of Federal Firearms Statute?

The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals joins many other circuits in its interpretation of 18 USC 921(a)(33)(A), which makes it unlawful for any person previously convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" to possess a firearm.  The court upheld application of the statute to an individual convicted of criminal assault, which does not require proof of a domestic relationship.  The court concluded that "While the [statute's] definition of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" is not a model of clarity or preciseness, we agree with our sister circuits that neither the syntax nor the grammar of the statute require the predicate misdemeanor offense to have a domestic relationship element. We agree with the First, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits that Congress's use of the singular noun "element" is indicative that the misdemeanor offense only requires one element, namely, the use of force."

United States v. Heckenliable, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 10475 (April 27, 2006) bgf

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