Under California Penal Code Section 12025, it is unlawful for a person convicted of a felony to purchase, own or possess a firearm. This includes not having any firearms in your home or car even if it is registered to someone else so long as you had access to it and/or were aware of it. It also does not matter if your felony conviction took place in another state or was a federal felony conviction.

What is a Felony?

A felony is any criminal offense that could only result in a felony sentence including a sentence to a federal prison for more than 30 days and/or a fine of more than $1,000. A felony conviction in California is a jail sentence of more than one year.

  • Misdemeanors that Prohibit Possession {PC 12021(c)}

California law also prohibits you from owning, possessing or buying a firearm if you were convicted of certain misdemeanors listed under PC 12021(c) including most sex crimes and offenses such as brandishing a weapon or assault with a deadly weapon, stalking, making criminal threats or an offense involving domestic violence.

  • Drug Addiction

If you are addicted to a narcotic, you are also prohibited from having a firearm under any circumstances.

What is a Firearm?

A firearm is any weapon or device from which a projectile is expelled by the force of combustion through a barrel. Any gun is considered a firearm including pistols, rifles or shotguns but a BB gun or pellet gun is not a firearm for purposes of this law.

Defenses to Felon with a Firearm

There are some defenses available to you even if you are a convicted felon:

  • Lack of Possession

If you share an apartment or living space with someone else and the weapon is found in a common area, you may not be guilty of possession.

  • Lack of Knowledge

If you are carrying someone else’s bag or borrowing another person’s car, you may have been unaware of a hidden firearm.

  • Self-Defense

You may only possess a firearm for a limited time, if you are a felon, to protect yourself or another person from imminent danger of great bodily harm and you did not plan to possess the firearm before the danger presented itself.

In other words, if you are threatened by someone with a deadly weapon who intends or who is using physical force against you or another person and a firearm becomes available to you and no other alternative exists to escape or to avoid the attacker, then you may have a reasonable self-defense argument.

  • Justifiable Possession

Under limited circumstances, you can possess a firearm for only a brief time. You must have taken a gun away from someone who was committing a crime against you and you contacted law enforcement to either come to retrieve the gun or to advise them you were bringing it in.

Penalties for Felon with a Firearm

If convicted, you face 16-months, 2 or 3 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. You also face this penalty but with a fine of up to $1,000 if your prior conviction was within 10 years and was a misdemeanor under PC 12021(c) that prohibited you from owning, purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Can Your Gun Rights Be Restored?

The US Supreme Court has affirmed that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution confers the right to bear arms on private citizens but it does allow for reasonable regulations and to permit the states and the federal government to exercise its police powers to protect its citizens.

You still may be able to restore your gun rights if you are a convicted felon but only after having your felony conviction expunged followed by receipt of a certificate of rehabilitation and a pardon from the governor that reinstates your gun rights. Your felony conviction also must not have involved the use of a firearm or dangerous weapon. Pardons are rarely granted.

If you are a police officer or peace officer who was convicted of an offense under PC 273.5 (California’s spousal battery law), of stalking or of intentionally violating a protective order, you can petition to legally possess a firearm if continuation of your career as a law enforcement officer depends on it. You must show by a preponderance of the evidence that you are likely to use a firearm in a safe and lawful manner.

Still, under federal law, you may be prohibited from owning or purchasing a firearm if you have a felony conviction or a conviction for domestic violence.

Immigration Consequences

For legal aliens or other non-citizens, a gun crime can have severe consequences regarding your legal status. Although in some cases a gun crime can be reduced or dismissed, in most instances you face an increased risk of deportation since most gun offenses are crimes of moral turpitude.

Call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis

Any gun crime conviction, including being a felon with a firearm, can result in serious prison time and have long range or permanent adverse consequences on your life. If you have been charged with a gun crime, call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis today for a free, confidential initial consultation at (213) 687-4412.