California Felon With A Firearm Law

California law under Penal Code section 29800, often referred to as Felon with a Firearm Law, prohibits three (3) groups of people from owning, possessing, buying, or receiving a firearm: convicted felons; narcotic drug addicts and anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors. If you fall into any one of these groups and own, possess, buy, or receive a gun, you will likely be prosecuted with a felony after your arrest. In California, a felony conviction results in losing one's gun rights for life.

A firearm under California law is a device designed to be used as a weapon from which a projectile expels through a tubular barrel by the force of an explosion or another form of combustion. A firearm, commonly referred to as a gun, includes pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, or tasers. Portions of a gun may also be considered a firearm such as a frame or receiver. The frame or receiver refers to the metal portion of a firearm that houses the mechanism (such as the hammer, trigger, bolt, action etc.,) that fires the gun. It is also illegal for any person who is prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm to possess ammunition. Antique firearms and BB guns do not qualify as a firearm in California. A firearm also includes any rocket, rocket propelled projectile launcher, or similar device containing any explosive material regardless if the device is designed for emergency or distress signaling purposes.

Penal Code section 29800 is quite specific regarding the qualification and determinations of these terms, making the felon with a firearm law rather complicated. A felon is someone who was convicted of a felony in California or any other state, government, or country. A felon also includes any person convicted of a felony violating a federal law for which a felony sentence was imposed or was sentenced to a federal correctional facility for more than 30 days. A narcotic drug addict is someone who is dependent on a drug, both physically and emotionally.

Persons With Misdemeanor Convictions That Can Be Prosecuted

There are a number of California misdemeanors convictions that prohibit a person from owning, possessing or having under his or her custody or control any firearm within 10 years of the conviction. These are some (not all) of those misdemeanor convictions:

  • Assault (Penal Code 240, 241);
  • Assault With a Deadly Weapon (Penal Code 245);
  • Battery (Penal Code 242, 243);
  • Discharging a Firearm in Grossly Negligent Manner (Penal Code 246.3);
  • Domestic Violence (Penal Code 273.5, 243.(e)(1));
  • Willful Violation of Restraining Order to Prevent Domestic Violence (Penal Code 273.6);
  • Shooting at an Inhabited House, Building, Car, Truck, Camper, or Recreational Vehicle (Penal Code 246);
  • Stalking (Penal Code 646.9);
  • Criminal Threats (Penal Code 422);
  • Drawing, Exhibiting, or Unlawful Use of a Firearm (Penal Code 417).

Penalties and Punishment

If convicted of being in possession of a firearm under Penal Code section 29800 you are looking at a sentence of 16 months to three (3) years in county jail. If you have a “Strike” prior then the sentence is doubled – 32 months to six (6) years in jail. The prosecutor will request as part of the sentence that the firearm be forfeited.

What The Prosecutor Has To Prove To Get A Conviction

The following elements must be proved by the prosecution in order to sustain a conviction under Penal Code section 29800:

  • The defendant owned, purchased, received, or possessed a firearm. The law defines two types of possession: actual possession (meaning a person direct and physical control of the firearm); and constructive possession (meaning that you have access to the gun);
  • The defendant had knowledge of owning, purchasing, receiving or possessing a firearm; and
  • The defendant had been previously convicted of a felony; two offenses of brandishing a firearm; a misdemeanor offense from the list of specific misdemeanors from Penal Code section 29805 (see misdemeanor list above) or from Penal Code section 23515 (a) (b) or (c) - which includes violations of Penal Code sections 245(a)(2) and 245(a)(3) or 245(d), Penal Code section 246, Penal Code section 417(a)(2) and Penal Code section 417(c); or, a juvenile finding of a juvenile in possession of a firearm (Penal Code section 29820).

Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys

The penalties for possession of a firearm can result in a prison sentence. Those facing this type of charge need aggressive representation. The criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners bring over 70 years of combined criminal law experience to each one of their cases. We will put that experience to work for you.

Call us and schedule a no-cost confidential evaluation in our office.