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The California "Felon with a Firearm" Law

Understanding California Penal Code §29800

The California "felon with a firearm" law disallows the following people from purchasing or owning a gun:

  • Individuals addicted to narcotic drugs
  • Individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors
  • Individuals convicted of any felony offense

If you were convicted of a felony or other qualifying offense, the simple act of owning a firearm is illegal. In fact, it is illegal for you to receive, purchase, or possess a gun. After a felony conviction, you will lose your run rights for at least ten years.

What offenses will cause me to lose my gun rights?

A wide variety of criminal offense can result in lost gun rights, including assault with a deadly weapon and a variety of misdemeanor sex crimes. Additionally, any felony conviction will cost your gun rights.

Elements of "Felon with a Firearm"

If law enforcement believes that you are in violation of CA Penal Code §29800, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were in actual or constructive possession of a firearm.

  • Actual possession occurs when you have physical control over the weapon. For instance, you are in "actual possession" of the gun if it is in your hand or on your person. If you are not actual controlling the gun, you do not have actual possession of it.
  • Constructive possession applies to any situation in which you have direct access to the weapon, even though you are not physically holding it. For example, you could be in constructive possession of a weapon that is in your nightstand.

Defense Strategies

There are many defense strategies that can help you avoid a conviction under CA Penal Code §29800. Two of the most common defenses are "I was unaware of the gun," and "I did not have control over the gun."

If law enforcement finds a firearm in your house, it is entirely possible that you were unaware of it. If the gun belonged to a friend or roommate, you could face an unfair allegation simply because you didn't know that the gun was in your house.

Similarly, law enforcement could accuse you of possessing a firearm that actually belonged to someone else in your household, such as a roommate or family member. Although the gun is in your home, you do not actually have control of it.

Self Defense

You should not be held liable for possessing a gun to defend yourself. According to California's self-defense law, it is legal to possess a firearm if you had a reason to believe that your life was in danger and only possessed the gun for the purpose of self-defenseand with no prior intention of controlling a firearm.

Aggressive California Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you were accused of gun possession with a previous felony conviction, the legal defense team at Rodriguez, Lewis & Kahn can help. We have served clients for a collective 70+ years. Today, we possess the knowledge, skill, and confidence to help people like you avoid the unnecessary consequences of an unfair or unjust criminal charge. Fill out an online case evaluation form today to see what Rodriguez, Lewis & Kahn can do for you.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.