I
When do my Gun Rights get Restricted?

In California, there are several ways in which a person can lose their 2nd Amendment Right under the United States Constitution to bear arms. A person convicted of any felony offense in California receives a lifetime ban from ever owning or possessing a firearm. People convicted of certain crimes, such as Domestic Violence or Domestic Battery, even if charged as a misdemeanor, also lose their ability to own or possess a firearm for life.

Other charges require a 10-year ban in California only, those can be found here. As can be seen, Domestic Violence and Domestic Battery carry a 10-year ban in California, but a lifetime Federal ban, even after those 10 years expired.

Some civil laws may also be used to ban you from owning or possessing a firearm. These laws ban guns or firearms from persons not as a result of criminal convictions but rather because of some applicable civil law, such as a restraining order or a criminal protective order or even a finding by the court that a person is found to be insane or mentally disabled. These bans expire when the order expires or when the person is found to be of sound mind (up to three-five years for restraining orders and up to ten years for criminal protective orders).

II
What can happen if you have a firearm, but are otherwise forbidden from having one?

If you have been convicted of a felony, then you can be charged with a violation under PC 29800 and if you have ammunition, you can be charged with PC 30305. These are both felony offenses, where you can be sentenced to prison for up to 3 years. These charges are also straight felonies, so they cannot be reduced down to misdemeanor charges.

If you have a qualifying misdemeanor conviction, you could be charged under PC 29805, where you could be sentenced to County Jail for up to 1 year or up to 3 years in prison if charged under this section as a felony.

III
How do I restore my Gun Rights?

If you were convicted of a felony “wobbler” offense, meaning a crime that can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor charge, and you were not sentenced to State Prison, you can have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor charge under PC 17(b). Having your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, it would mean for all purposes, you were convicted of a misdemeanor, and can possess and own a firearm. So in essence, if there is not an otherwise 10-year ban attached to the felony charge, and it is later reduced to a misdemeanor, then you can immediately obtain a firearm once your PC 17(b) motion is granted.

For felony convictions (non-wobblers) that do not involve a firearm crime, you can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, which demonstrates to the court that you have rehabilitated yourself and is no longer a criminal threat to society. After the granting of a certificate of rehabilitation, you can then apply for a gun permit. For felony convictions that involve the use of a firearm, such as assault with a firearm,  you will need to obtain a governor’s pardon and the pardon will need to specifically include an exception that allows for you to own or possess firearms.

If you receive a conviction that includes a 10-year California ban, your only means to restore your Gun Rights would be to wait that 10 year period.

IV
If I expunge my felony, can I get a firearm?

A California expungement of a felony or misdemeanor offense does not lift the ban on possession or ownership of a firearm for you. Expunging a felony does not mean your felony is gone, and you can still be charged with being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm under PC 29800 or Possession of Ammunition under PC 30305. You must have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, wait for the 10-year ban to expire, or have a Pardon or Certificate of Rehabilitation granted (depending on your case and what is needed for your specific situation to restore your Gun Rights).

V
Conclusion

If you are looking to purchase a firearm but suffered a prior conviction, it is important to know if you can restore your gun rights to avoid any future legal troubles. Also, there is no time limit on these bans, so even if your case is 30 years old, you can still suffer a new charge if you purchase a firearm that you should not legally have. It’s always important to reduce your felonies (if possible) or expunge your cases, as you can never predict what help you’ll need in the future. It’s never a good idea to wait until it’s too late to fix your history.

We can help you through your restoration process, and the rights and the relief eligible available to you, give us a call at 909-939-7126 at the Inland Empire Criminal Defense. We are located in Ontario.