Virginia domestic violence orders may restrict firearm rights

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

A domestic violence prosecution in Virginia can have serious life-altering consequences. Virginia and federal laws can restrict firearm access under specific circumstances.

Virginia’s restrictions

Anyone accused of domestic abuse faces consequences and may need assistance with their criminal defense as soon as possible. Victims of these assaults also receive certain legal protection. A protective violence order, for example, restricts firearm rights under certain circumstances.

Under Virginia law, a person subject to a domestic violence protective order may not purchase or transport a firearm as long as that order is in effect. This restriction also applies to anyone who did not attend the protective order hearing after receiving notice of that proceeding.

A 2016 Virginia law also prevents individuals who are subject to a final family abuse protective order from possessing a firearm arm for as long as that order is in effect. That person must sell or surrender their firearms to a person who is not prohibited from possessing that weapon within 24 hours of service of that order.


Virginia’s laws have several loopholes, however. These laws do not:

  • Prohibit individuals from being subject to nine other types of protective orders from possessing firearms or require those individuals to surrender these weapons when those orders are in effect.
  • Prevent individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from buying, possessing or transporting firearms.
  • Clearly authorize or require the seizure of firearms or ammunition at the location where domestic violence occurred.
  • Require courts to notify anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense or subject to a domestic violence order when they cannot possess firearms under federal law.

Federal law

Under federal law, anyone subject to a final domestic violence protective order may not purchase or possess a firearm. This ban also applies to a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Federal law enforcement agencies, however, rarely prosecute these laws.

Anyone seeking a protective order or having an order served upon them is entitled to certain legal rights. Attorneys can help assure that these rights are protected.