Carrying a loaded firearm, either on your person or in a vehicle, and without a permit, is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. If the prosecution can prove the weapon was intended to be used in a crime, it is a felony.
Once you are convicted of any felony in California, or of a similar Federal crime, you are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm for life. This includes ammunition. This crime is also a Felony, punishable by up to three years in state prison.
Several misdemeanors have a ten year weapons ban, including most offenses that involve weapons, violence, or threats. Violation of the ten year weapons ban, or the ban against having ammunition, are “wobbler” offenses, meaning they can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony (PC 29805, PC 30305). Punishment is up to a year in county jail, or up to three years in state prison.
Possession is very loosely defined to include simply having the weapon under your control. Under this concept, and a legal definition of possession called “constructive possession,” this can simply mean the gun is accessible to you. So even if you didn’t intend to have the gun in the house or car, or you sold it but hadn’t transferred it, or you told someone to remove it while you were in custody – and that weapon is found on the premises while you are there, you will be charged with this crime if you have been convicted of a felony or of any of the above-mentioned misdemeanors.
Felon in Possession is a common crime violating someone’s probation, because probationers have “search conditions” meaning they may be searched without probable cause or a warrant. During sentencing, especially after a plea negotiation, there are numerous conditions and warnings given by the judge. When contemplating the laundry list of unpleasant things that must be done at this point in your life, getting rid of a legally obtained firearm often is not the first priority. But that legal firearm just became an illegal firearm. Since law enforcement does not need probable cause, or even any excuse, to search you, your car, or your home, having a weapon around can be disastrous. It will do you no good to attempt to deny it was yours any longer by saying you gave it to someone you are living with, or to someone who had failed to remove it from your house. If you knew about it and it is accessible to you, you are in possession of it.
The lifetime ban includes anyone deemed to be a drug addict. So although drug addiction may assist in creating a “diversion” from normal punishment for, say, a drug crime, it will lead to the lifetime weapons ban.
Gun rights may be restored through a PC 17(b) motion to reduce a felony to misdemeanor, or through the process of expungement. (See Expungement page) A felony must be a wobbler to be reduced to a misdemeanor. And there cannot have been a prison sentence, even if it was stayed.
There are defenses to this crime. All the elements must be proved by the prosecution – that you knew of the weapon’s presence and that you had control of it. There are also affirmative defenses (“I did it, but…”). For example, if the weapon was possessed briefly in order to dispose of it, or that the weapon was taken from someone using it against you.
Bear in mind that these arguments are far less likely to be effective at a probation violation hearing, since there’s no jury. The judge simply needs to be convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that you are guilty, in other words, more likely than not.
Your constitutional right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is of no use to you here. Many rights are lost upon being convicted of a crime. The Supreme Court has determined that the security of the State supersedes the right to bear arms.
If you are charged with PC 29800 or PC 30305, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Peter Sebastian. His experience in the criminal justice system with this crime, and underlying felonies that gave rise to this crime, allow him to achieve the best possible outcome for the accused.
Links to Information for Anyone Charged with a Crime: