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  out of state protective orders So you signed a no admission civil protection order (CPO)in the District of Columbia for a woman you dated for a few months.  The Judge told you that it may be a federal crime to possess a firearm.    The question now arises whether you can still possess your guns in Maryland because you live in Maryland.    Will you be in violation of the federal statute if you possess a firearm in your home state? (ie.Maryland)

Possession of Firearm in the District of Columbia After CPO entry

Every Civil Protection Order issued in the District of Columbia has the following warning:You must relinquish within 24 hours after being served with Civil Protection Order (CPO) all firearms that you own or possess to your local law enforcement officials.  Failure to do so is a criminal offense under D.C. Code 22-4503 that if convicted, carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison or a fine up to $15,000.00 or both” Therefore, you will absolutely be in violation of the civil protection order if you possess a firearm in the District of Columbia after a DC Superior Court Judge issues an order of protection.    DC has very strict firearm laws so you will be in violation of DC Code 22–4503.

Federal Law Possession of Firearm after Domestic Violence

Every Civil Protection issued in the District of Columbia also has the following federal warning:As a result of this order, it may be unlawful for the respondent to possess or purchase a firearm, including a rifle, pistol, or revolver, or ammunition pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8).  If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm, you should consult an attorney.” Generally, Federal law prohibits the possession of firearms when the person is subject to a court order that was issued by any Court in which the person received notice and had the ability to participate in the hearing. However, in order to be subject to the Federal Firearm statute certain conditions must be met: 1. The order of protection must restrain the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engage in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and 2. The Order must have a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

A “No Admission consent order” should not violate Federal Law

The Court must make a finding that you made a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner.  If you agree without admissions, there is no factual finding.  See our blog on consent.

Federal Law does not include dating

The other part of the Federal law is that unlike the District of Columbia law, it defines intimate partner as “the spouse of the person, a former spouse of the person, an individual who is a parent of a child of the person, and an individual who cohabitates or has cohabited with the person.”  So you casually dating does not violate the federal law as long as you never lived with that person.

So Can I possess my Firearm in Maryland if a Civil Protection Order issued in DC

First and foremost the order is valid in the State of Maryland under the full faith and credit which means that each state must enforce out-of-state orders in the same way it enforces its own orders.  However,  the order was not issued under Maryland law.    So yes you can possess your firearm in Maryland if a civil protection is granted in the District of Columbia and you do not meet elements of the federal statute for possession of the firearm.

You can not possess a firearm in Maryland if the Judge in DC puts on the order you can not possess a firearm at all

The civil protection order form the court typically uses in the District of Columbia give firearm warnings not orders.  Generally, the Judge in the District of Columbia gives a warning of the federal firearm law and tell you to consult an attorney.   The Judge typically give warnings of the law.  In fact, on the form order, the possession of the firearm language is listed as “warnings.”   If however, the Judge in the District of Columbia states on the order that you may not possess a firearm at all you would be prevented from possessing a firearm in Maryland because of the full faith credit clause.    Furthermore, the petitioner does not have to enroll the order for that to effect (ie. registering the CPO order in Maryland).   Registration or filing of protection orders cannot be a prerequisite for enforcement. 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2). Therefore, courts and law enforcement officers must enforce protection orders issued by other states, tribes, and territories, even if they have not been registered or filed in the enforcing jurisdiction.
Every case is different and be mindful that is this just our firm position on the law.  This is not legal advice but our general opinion regarding the law.   Need more information give us a call and we can go over the specifics of your case and whether you are in violation of the law.  

Rollins and Chan Law Firm

419 7th Street, NW Suite 405
Washington DC, District of Columbia 20004
United States (US)
Phone: 202-455-5610