California is, without question, the state with the strictest and strongest gun laws in all of the United States. In fact, it is one of the very first states in the country to enact an extreme risk protection order law. The state law itself does not explicitly guarantee private citizens the rights to purchase, possess, or carry firearms -- how much more for a convicted felon?
Now, there are several distinct statutes that can be used as a court's basis when determining whether a person is guilty of a felony or not. A prime example would be California Penal Code 29800. It states that an individual is considered a “felon” and will have their gun rights abolished if:
- The person has been previously been ruled guilty for a felony under federal, state, or international laws;
- The person has mental health problems;
- The person is under the legal age of possessing a gun; and
- The person abuses narcotics.
If someone is caught possessing, discharging, or carrying a firearm and they qualify for any of the aforementioned qualities, then they are guilty of a felony and will have a lifetime firearm ban.
Meanwhile, there are also misdemeanor cases that could rebuke your rights to possess a gun. For example, if you draw or exhibit a firearm out of anger or frustration, then you are offending California Penal Code 417. This is a misdemeanor case, but once you are convicted for infringing such penal code twice, then you will have your gun rights taken away from you for life. Another situation with the same consequences would be when a person uses a firearm to assault another person. This is a violation of California Penal Code 245(a)(2).
The lifetime ban on gun possession among convicted felons has led so many people to believe that it is impossible to restore one's gun rights. However, there are a few ways to get around it, albeit difficult. You can take back your gun rights even after a felony conviction by:
- Petitioning to reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor, or
- Requesting for a full pardon from the state governor
The first option is best for felons under probation. However, this can only be applicable if your case is a “wobblers offense”. Meanwhile, the second option is best for felons who are sentenced to state imprisonment. Keep in mind that this method is not very effective for individuals with multiple charges.
Obviously, there are limitations to these. One of which would be that if you are a convicted felon for (a) using a firearm that led to your conviction or (b) committed domestic abuse, then you will not be eligible for the restoration of your gun rights. For example, violation of PC 245(a)(2) is a “wobbler offense”, meaning it can result in a felony or misdemeanor charge. If a person is sentenced to the former, then his/her gun ownership rights will be unaffected. However, if a person is convicted for the latter, then there is a great possibility that his/her gun ownership rights will be revoked.
Keep in mind that it is at your or your attorney's hands to decide which strategy will work best based on your situation. Speaking with a more knowledgeable expert such as a criminal defense lawyer will guide you to make that decision-making process lighter on your behalf.
Punishments for Breaking the California Penal Code 29800
The state has maintained that a previously convicted felon cannot have access to, purchase, obtain, use, or carry any type of firearm. Otherwise, that individual will be subjected to another felon offense where the consequences are serious:
- Jail time of up to 3 years;
- Pay a fine of $10,000
Other sentences may be added on top of the aforementioned punishments when deemed necessary by the court.
Legal Guidance from California Criminal Defense Attorneys
Indeed, getting your gun rights back after a felony conviction is like treading on thin ice. For instance, even if the odds are in your favor and the governor grants you his full pardon, it would still not guarantee the restoration of your gun rights. Nevertheless, it would serve you better if you reach out to a criminal defense attorney. They will help you better understand the depth of your case, your plausible defenses in court trials, and take care of everything you need.
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