What is a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence"?

A “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” is an offense that:

     (1) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State, or Tribal law;
     (2) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon; and
     (3) was committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.

However, a person is not considered to have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless:

     (1) the person was represented by counsel in the case, or knowingly and intelligently waived the right of counsel in the case; and
     (2) in the case of a prosecution for which a person was entitled to a jurycase was tried, either –
          (a) the case was tried by a jury, or
          (b) the person knowingly and intelligently waived the right to have the case tried by a jury, by guilty plea or otherwise.

In addition, a conviction would not be disabling if it has been expunged or set aside, or is an offense for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored (if the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held provides for the loss of civil rights upon conviction for such an offense) unless the pardon, expunction, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms, and the person is not otherwise prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held from receiving or possessing firearms.

[18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33); 27 CFR 478.11]

Last Reviewed September 13, 2017