Thanks for the replies and links. I think NavyLT is probably right about just needing to have an actual human (wow, imagine that...) go through the records and straighten it out, so at this point I'll probably try to go through the typical NICS appeal process and see where that gets me. I am calling state offices and looking up websites to get the background info I'll need- looks like it may involve some hassle and I'll be dealing with my lawyer if necessary, but I do think I'll be able to clear the issue up eventually. And Fiddletown, I posted on my situation because I thought there might be some law-abiding firearms enthusiasts who've experienced and dealt with similar issues who could offer some advice, not because I expect to get proper legal services on an internet forum.
Sholling, I dunno what jurisdictions you are accustomed to, and I'm not an attorney either, but it seems to me that nobody (including prosecutors) would want a system in which domestic battery charges couldn't be plead down to convictions or court supervision on lesser charges. Mandating that all arrests for domestic battery result in convictions for domestic battery essentially removes the State's leverage in offering plea bargains, and instead of having first time offenders quietly pleading guilty for lesser charges, paying a fine, and going about their business, they'd all fight it in court and clog up the system because if the state won't offer you a deal, what can you do but fight the charges? Anyway, the whole process sounds crazy to me: You are arrested for crime X, charged with and plead guilty to crime Y, and are convicted for crime X anyway with no mention of the charge you actually pleaded guilty to? I'd be amazed if that were common practice in any US state, and if so, I bet it's counterproductive and of dubious constitutionality. Maybe you can enlighten me on this.
For my part I was only persuaded to plead guilty in 2003 because the state was willing to reduce the charge to simple battery and offer court supervision, thus guaranteeing that no conviction would be entered onto my record. Since then I also got the arrest expunged, which in the State of Illinois means that the original arrest and court records were released to me, and all copies held by the state are supposed to be destroyed, and the arrest purged from the Illinois State Police database. So, theoretically I'm supposed to be totally clean, but the NICS maintains records of all arrests as well as convictions, and doesn't necessarily remove arrest records when they are expunged or sealed at the state level. My understanding is that NICS sometimes automatically disqualifies applicants if the arrest shows up but no non-conviction outcome is displayed. Based on what several knowledgeable people have told me, when the NICS database sees an arrest for domestic battery but no conviction, it sometimes just assumes a conviction and it's up to the applicant to prove that the arrest did not result in conviction. (The ol' guilty until proven innocent thing...)
I am absolutely positive that there is no conviction on my record for domestic battery or anything else- successfully completing court supervision in Illinois results in no conviction for the offense. I've also passed other background checks for professional reasons that I definitely would not have passed if I had any misdemeanor convictions on my record, so I'm pretty confident that the only record that still remains of the whole incident is the arrest record in the Fed database.
Thanks for that SCOTUS link, although I'm not entirely sure how Hayes applies to my situation. As far as I could tell, Hayes was about what kind of relationship between offender and victim constitutes domestic battery as far as the Feds are concerned. As far as the State of Illinois was concerned as of the time of my arrest, living under the same roof constitutes domestic battery even if there is no other relationship between the subjects. (Personally I think the law is overly broad, and I think it's ironic that I got immediately arrested and run through the wringer for domestic battery after fighting with a male roommate, and yet I've still seen cases in which guys seriously BEAT UP their wives and girlfriends and the police let them get away with it... But I guess that's another issue for another day.)
On the other hand, the NICS brochure on disqualifying domestic violence convictions lays out the definition of domestic relationship pretty clearly, and it appears that you've got to have a pretty close ongoing domestic relationship with the complainant in order to be disqualified under the NICS rules. The link: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/mcdvbrochure.pdf
Either way, all the NICS documents I've found say convictions disqualify, but not arrests alone. Since I've got no convictions on my record at all, I should be in the clear, but once again, it's up to the applicant to prove that they are in the clear if the database hasn't been updated to reflect non-conviction. Geez this stuff is byzantine.
Anyway, thanks folks, and if anyone has experience in successfully appealing a denial, I'd be glad to hear about it.