If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
It may be illegal to have a gun depending on the crime. Under South Dakota state law, it is illegal for someone to have/buy a gun if s/he:
- was convicted in South Dakota or another state of a crime of violence; (Note: It is illegal for 15 years after the person was last discharged from prison, jail, probation, or parole for the crime);1
- was convicted of a felony drug crime under the section of the law called “Chapter 22-42. Controlled Substances and Marijuana,”1 which are all listed on the South Dakota Legislature website. (Note: If s/he was convicted of certain felony crimes in Chapter 22-42 that are listed on our website here, then it is illegal to have/buy a gun for 15 years after the person was last discharged from prison, jail, probation, or parole for the crime.1 However, if the conviction was for one of the felony crimes that is listed on the South Dakota Legislature website but not listed on our website here, then it is only illegal to have/buy a gun for 5 years after the person was last discharged from prison, jail, probation, or parole for the crime);2 or
- was convicted of a misdemeanor crime involving an act of domestic violence; (Note: It is only illegal to have/buy a gun for the first year after the date of the conviction.)3
In addition, a person cannot get a permit to carry a concealed weapon if s/he:
- pled guilty to, pled no contest (nolo contendere) to, or was convicted of:
- has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime under Chapter 23-7, 22-14, or 22-42 within the past five years (or is currently under indictment for one of those crimes); or
- is a fugitive from justice.4
Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 SDCL § 22-14-15
2 SDCL § 22-14-15.1
3 SDCL § 22-14-15.2
4 SDCL §§ 23-7-7; 23-7-7.1; 18 USC § 922(g), (n)
How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?
Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.
In addition to the prohibitions under South Dakota laws based on convictions for various crimes, federal law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm if the person is convicted of any felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Criminal records that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm under federal law are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.
To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?