Many people in Phoenix take their right to own firearms seriously. What they may not know is a charge of domestic violence can take away their right to own or possess guns, at least temporarily.

You might know that being convicted of a felony crime in Arizona takes away your right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. In addition, federal law automatically prohibits firearm possession for a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime. If you are a gun owner, this could affect your decision whether to plead guilty to a domestic violence charge or accept a plea bargain.

With domestic violence charges, in addition to the criminal side of your case, there is the civil law side. Specifically, the person accusing you of abuse could seek an order of protection against you. Depending on the terms of the order, you could be forced to move out of your home, be prohibited from seeing your children — and forced to give up your firearms.

Orders of protection and your firearms

Arizona law has two types of orders of protection: emergency orders of protection and final orders. A judge can issue an emergency order after an ex parte hearing (that is, a hearing in which the accused person is not present) if a police officer testifies that they believe the person seeking the order is in immediate and present danger from the accused, based on a recent alleged domestic violence incident. Among other things, an emergency order can prohibit you from possessing or buying firearms while the order is in effect, which can last 72 hours or longer.

For the court, the next step is to determine whether to issue a final order of protection. If the judge issues the order, they have the discretion to include a firearms ban. Final orders of protection last at least one year, so this could have a long-term impact on your life.

Your rights matter, if you defend them

If your right to own firearms is important to you, you owe it to yourself to consult a defense attorney about the domestic violence charges against you. An experienced defense lawyer will be able to help you deal with both the criminal and civil sides of your case.