California’s Felon With a Firearm Law
PC 29900 deals with the minimum amount of time someone spends in jail for possession of a firearm as a convicted violent felon. The state has another law to handle the general possession of a firearm by a felon. Penal Code 29800 is the state’s “felon with a firearm” law.
PC 29800 directly makes the possession of a firearm by a felon a criminal act. PC 29800 also makes firearm ownership illegal for individuals with an addiction to a narcotic drug as well as those with convictions for some violent misdemeanors involving firearms.
Individuals in these categories are not legally allowed to own, buy, receive, or possess a firearm. Note that this law only applies to individuals who knowingly buy or possess a firearm. People should not face a PC 29800 conviction if they were unknowingly in possession of a gun.
The Legal Definition of a Firearm in California
California uses a set legal definition for “firearms.” Firearms are a kind of weapon. They must expel a projectile through a barrel. These items must use an explosion or force to expel the projectile. Items that meet this definition include:
Note that this is not a comprehensive list of items that are considered firearms in California. There are also some items that closely resemble firearms that do not meet this definition. BB guns and pellet guns, for example, are not considered firearms.
Individuals with a felony conviction are not allowed to own any firearms. This applies even if the weapon is not loaded while in their possession. This regulation also applies to guns that do not work. Possession of a broken firearm is still against the law in California.
Kinds of “Possession” in the State of California
Convicted felons are not allowed to “possess” firearms in California. The state defines two distinct types of possession. Individuals can face criminal charges if they have either actual or constructive possession of a gun.
Actual Possession of a Firearm
Individuals have direct control of a firearm if they have “actual possession” of the item. Individuals carrying a gun in a thigh holster would have actual possession of the weapon. A weapon carried in a backpack would also be in the actual possession of a person.
Constructive Possession of a Firearm
Sometimes, individuals have “constructive possession” of a firearm. These individuals can easily access a gun, even if they don’t have it on their person. A person who keeps a firearm on top of their fridge while they are at home would have constructive possession of the weapon.
Penal Code 29900 Focuses on Violent Felons
While PC 29800 deals with any felon who possesses a firearm, PC 29900 focuses on violent felons. A violent felon is anyone who was convicted of a variety of felonies, including:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Assault with intent to commit rape or robbery
- Any felony involving the use of a dangerous weapon
- Any felony where great bodily harm was inflicted
- Any felony punishable by life in prison or death
The potential penalties for felons in these categories who possess a firearm are greater than for other felons. If you’re considered a violent felon, and you’re dealing with PC 29900 charges, our weapons charges lawyers in Los Angeles can share their legal experience with you.
Results of Possession of a Firearm By a Violent Felon
PC 29900 is a felony-level offense in California. This designation means that conviction will result in another felony charge on an individual’s record. Individuals convicted under California’s violent felon with a firearm law can face:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Incarceration for up to three years
- Formal probation
PC 29900 also states that violent felons must generally spend at least six months in jail before they are eligible for probation.
However, PC 29900 also gives the court the right to set aside this requirement in rare cases. The court will only set aside this minimum jail time in very unusual situations. Generally, the court must decide that jail time is not in “the interests of justice” in order to set aside a jail sentence.
Because of this, most people convicted under PC 29900 will spend at least a few months behind bars. Individuals will remain unable to own or possess firearms after they are released from prison.
Defenses Against California’s Violent Felon With a Firearm Law
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help if you are accused of possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. Our team members understand how to build a strong defense for you in this situation. We can work to show that you:
- Were trying to dispose of the gun
- Did not know you had a firearm
- Were wrongly accused
Were Trying to Dispose of the Gun
Sometimes, individuals come into possession of a gun in a tense situation. For example, Man A attempts to mug Man B. Man B manages to take the gun away from Man A. He has possession of the weapon but intends to give it to the police right away. Man B could avoid a conviction under PC 29900 because he did not intend to maintain possession of the firearm.
Did Not Know You Had the Firearm
PC 29900 charges apply to individuals who knowingly possess, own, buy, or keep a firearm. You should not face a PC 29900 conviction if you did not know about the gun. Because of this, you could avoid a conviction if someone left a firearm in your home or car without telling you about the item.
Were Wrongly Accused
False accusations occur for a variety of reasons. A witness could have viewed you with an item that appeared to be a firearm but was not in reality. Alternatively, a witness could mistake you for someone else who did possess a firearm. If you are wrongly accused of possessing a gun, a criminal defense lawyer can help you prove your case.
Can a Violent Felon Have Their Gun Rights Restored?
In most cases, the only way for a felon to have their gun rights restored in the state of California is through a formal pardon by the governor or president. A pardon wipes the offense from your record. Without one, your lifetime ban on gun ownership will likely remain intact.
Review the Jail Sentence for Ex-Felons With a Firearm
Penal Code 29900 deals with the minimum jail sentence for violent felons who possess a firearm. The minimum sentence is usually six months. Some people face up to three years in jail. The Simmrin Law Group can help you handle California’s violent felon with a firearm charge.
We’ll get to work on your case if you call us or fill out our online contact form. Start working with our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers now. Take charge with a free consultation.