On January 1, 2019, Assembly Bill 3129 will go into effect.  This bill changes existing California law and imposes a lifetime ban on firearms for all individuals convicted of Domestic Violence under Penal Code Section 273.5. The bill passed with 77 votes and was signed on August 20, 2018 by Governor Brown. 

Previously, California law imposed a 10-year ban on those convicted of domestic violence, but the change will bring the law in line with federal law. Another factor to consider is that this lifetime ban will be imposed regardless of whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Nobody doubts that taking guns away from violent individuals can be a good thing.  The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence stated, “[t]he role of guns in domestic assaults is not limited to homicides, in fact, a 2004 survey of female domestic violence shelter residents in California found that more than one-third have been threatened or harmed with a firearm,” “In nearly two-thirds of all cases where a gun was present, the person harming their partner had threatened to shoot or kill her.”

“This bill is about saving lives. We need to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers,” said Assemblywoman Rubio. “Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, and domestic violence assaults involving a gun are 12 times more likely to end in death than assaults with other weapons or physical harm. In addition, a recent report from the Center for Disease Control found that 50 percent of all female homicide victims are murdered by their intimate partners.”  When we look at the law through the eyes of victims, it makes sense.

But what about those who are being deprived their gun rights?  What about those who are falsely accused and are forced to plea guilty, rather than spend additional time in jail?  The one thing that AB 3129 overlooks is some sort of procedural safeguard to ensure that the people who are losing their constitutional rights are not being deprived unnecessarily or that the new law does not go too far.

If you’re being charged with committing domestic violence, it is even more important that you get the best representation you can. The consequences were already serious enough, with up to 1 year in jail for a misdemeanor and 2-4 years in prison for a felony, hefty fines and fees and domestic violence classes for a year.  In addition, there are the additional risks that a conviction carries, from loss of a professional license, immigration consequences, and a permanent blemish on your record.