The law prohibits convicted felons from having firearms in all 50 states. In Los Angeles, this law comes with a lot of fine print—and it extends to people who are not technically convicted felons. If you are subject to this kind of ban and you are caught with a firearm, you can face a whole new felony charge and up to 3 years in jail in many cases. Do not allow this kind of arrest to pull you back into the criminal justice system. You need to speak to a lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group has the experience, knowledge and track record to help you. Our mission is to always help the accused. We will listen to you, take your side, and put all of our resources to work defending you—with a high success rate. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
Why aren’t felons allowed to have guns?
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that all citizens have the right to bear arms as part of a “well regulated militia.” The Supreme Court has interpreted that to mean that citizens in general have a right to own guns. However, it is also interpreted to be a conditional right—one that may not apply in some cases.
Accordingly, California restricts the right to possess guns among certain groups:
Anyone addicted to narcotics
Anyone with 2 or more convictions for brandishing a deadly weapon
Anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors
People suffering from mental illness
Minors under the age of 18
Not all of these groups face the same penalties for having a firearm, however. A California state law known as PC 29800, or the “felon with a firearm” law, establishes serious criminal penalties for just four groups of people:
All convicted felons, no matter where you were convicted and no matter what the charge was,
People convicted of specific misdemeanors, of federal crimes with felony sentences, or any crime that carried 30 days or more in a federal prison
Narcotic drug addicts
Anyone under a restraining order/protective order that forbids owning a gun
If you fall into one of these groups and you were caught with a firearm, you can face an even longer gun ban as well as criminal penalties.
What counts as a “firearm”?
All conventional firearms count, and so does any weapon that uses an explosive propellant. This includes tasers, flare guns, rocket launchers, and antique firearms.
There are some important gray areas here:
It does count as a firearm even if it’s not loaded
It does count as a firearm even if it is disassembled or only part of a firearm—such as the frame
It does count as a firearm even if it’s damaged, inoperable, jammed or broken
BB guns and pellet guns do not count as firearms
What counts as “possessing” a firearm?
If you have control over the firearm, you possess it—even if it doesn’t really belong to you. This can include:
Having it on your person or in your backpack, briefcase, etc.
Having it in your car, home, office or another location you control, even if you’re nowhere near it
Under the law, you only “possess” the gun if you know you have it. It does not count as possession if someone left it at your house (without your knowledge) or gave you their bag without saying what was inside of it. This can be difficult to prove, but if it’s reasonable that you did not know about the gun, it’s a strong way to win your case.
What are the penalties for a felon with a firearm?
First of all, if your firearm ban was not already for life, it will be extended. Typically you will face at least 10 more years of being prohibited from owning firearms; you could also face a lifetime ban. If you were a juvenile when the offense occurred, you may simply be banned from owning firearms until you are 30.
You may also forfeit the weapon in question.
The criminal penalties depend on the reason you were prohibited from owning a firearm:
You will face a new felony charge which can carry 16 month, 2 years or 3 years in jail, plus up to $10,000 in county jail.
Other circumstances include a previous conviction for certain misdemeanors, a juvenile conviction (you are a “ward of the state”) or being under a restraining order. The penalties depend on the severity of the offense. You could face a felony (with the same penalties as above) or a misdemeanor, carrying up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
What defenses can I use?
There are many valid defenses for a felon possessing a firearm. These can include:
You didn’t know you had it
You didn’t actually possess it—it was not under your control (belongs to a roommate, for instance)
Self-defense in certain cases where you didn’t have an advance plan to get a gun
Temporary possession of a gun you intended to immediately dispose of or destroy
Justifiable possession, such as taking a gun off of someone who attacked you and calling the police to come get it
Additionally, illegal search and seizure is a powerful defense. Depending on how police found the gun, they may have been violating your rights and the entire case could potentially be dismissed.
Talk to a Los Angeles Felon with a Firearm Lawyer for Free
No matter what happened in your past, you shouldn’t have to face jail time all over again. Let the Simmrin Law Group help you. We know how to help convicted felons win cases, stay out of jail and potentially beat a firearm charge. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.