Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Case Law Update -- Domestic Violence -- Supreme Court

The Supreme Court released U.S. v. Hayes this morning.  The issues and holding in the case are summarized in the first paragraph of Justice Ginsburg's 7-2 opinion:

"The federal Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U. S. C. §921 et seq., has long prohibited possession of a firearm by any person convicted of a felony. In 1996, Congress extended the prohibition to include persons convicted of “a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” §922(g)(9). The definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” contained in §921(a)(33)(A), is at issue in this case. Does that term cover a misdemeanor battery whenever the battered victim was in fact the offender’s spouse (or otherrelation specified in §921(a)(33)(A))? Or, to trigger thepossession ban, must the predicate misdemeanor identifyas an element of the crime a domestic relationship be-tween aggressor and victim? We hold that the domestic relationship, although it must be established beyond areasonable doubt in a §922(g)(9) firearms possession prosecution, need not be a defining element of the predi-cate offense."

(MIF 02-24-2009)

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