ALTON FLATT v. STATE OF TENNESSEE - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 23, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, Lyndsay F. Sanders, Senior Counsel, and Benjamin A. Whitehouse, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2:

Alton Flatt, Gainesboro, Tennessee, the appellee.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

The Department of Safety, acting pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1352(a)(1), revoked Petitioner’s handgun carry permit based upon the Department’s independent determination that Petitioner had been convicted of “a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33). The revocation arises out of an incident in which Petitioner was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count that pertained to his ex-wife and one count that pertained to her male companion. Petitioner subsequently pled guilty to one count of simple assault under Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-13-101. When Petitioner received notice that his handgun permit had been administratively revoked, he filed an appeal in the general sessions court, which reversed the Department’s decision and ordered reinstatement of Petitioner’s permit. The Department then appealed to the circuit court, which also ordered reinstatement of the handgun permit. This appeal followed. A “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), requires a use of force and a domestic relationship. In the underlying criminal case, Petitioner was charged with assaulting two people, Petitioner’s ex-wife and her male friend. Petitioner pled guilty to only one count of misdemeanor assault and the record does not establish whether Petitioner pled guilty to assaulting his ex-wife or her male companion. A “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” includes an offense “committed by” a person who had a specified domestic relationship with the victim, whether or not the misdemeanor statute itself designates the domestic relationship as an element of the crime and, pursuant to United States v. Hayes, 555 U.S. 415 (2009), the victim’s domestic relationship with the defendant must be established beyond a reasonable doubt for the offense to constitute a crime of domestic violence under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). The record in this case does not establish that the victim of the count of simple assault to which Petitioner pled guilty was his ex-wife. Therefore, the record does not support the Department’s determination that Petitioner was convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Accordingly, we affirm.

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