Is it Illegal for a Felon to Have a Gun?

Say you are a Los Angeles resident convicted of a felony crime — such as murder, burglary or extortion — quite a few years ago. You served your jail time and were released. You're considering purchasing a gun to keep your family safe. When you apply for your gun license, you're denied. Why? 

That is because under California Penal Code 29800 PC, as a convicted felon you have lost your ability to legally own a firearm in California. 

What is California Penal Code 29800 PC? 

California Penal Code 29800 PC states certain types of people cannot not legally purchase or own a firearm: 

  • Anyone convicted of, or has an outstanding warrant for, a felony crime in California
  • Anyone convicted of, or has an outstanding warrant for, a felony crime in the United States — which would be a federal crime — or any other country
  • Anyone convicted of specific misdemeanor crimes, such as assault with a firearm or domestic violence
  • Anyone addicted to the use of a narcotic drug, such as heroin or opium
  • Any juvenile prosecuted as an adult and convicted to certain felony crimes, such as assault with a deadly weapon

Additionally, these people cannot legally have a gun in their possession, even if it's technically not theirs. For example, if a friend gave it to them or a roommate had a firearm in their room. 

The California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms also has a list of misdemeanor offenses that, if you are convicted, will normally result in you not being able to purchase a firearm for at least 10 years. Some of this misdemeanors include: 

  • Threatening a police officer or school official
  • Intimidating a witness
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Theft of a firearm
  • Firearms dealing
  • Armed criminal action
  • Stalking
  • Bringing a gun onto school grounds

What Legal Defenses Are There for California Penal Code 29800 PC? 

Let's go back to our previous example — you're a Los Angeles resident convicted of a felony crime and while driving, you're pulled over by a police officer. They state they have probable cause to search your vehicle, and during the search find the firearm in your glove compartment. You're arrested for illegally possessing a gun as a convicted felon. 

In this particular scenario, there are a few legal defenses a criminal defense lawyer could use: 

  • Was the gun found during an illegal search and seizure? If the police officer did not have a warrant to search your vehicle, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to have the found firearm dismissed if they can prove it was found during an illegal search and seizure, a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. 
  • Was the gun in your car because you had found it and were taking it to the police? If a criminal defense lawyer can prove you had found the gun and were on your way to the police station to take it to the police, then they may be able to prove you had "justifiable possession" of the gun. 
  • Had someone else asked you to hold on to their gun in your car for just a moment? If a criminal defense lawyer can prove you only had the gun for a moment and never intended to stop the police from finding and seizing the firearm, then they may be able to prove you had only "momentary possession" of the gun. 

What Are the Penalties Under California Penal Code 29800 PC? 

If you are found guilty of possessing a firearm illegally, the penalties you can be facing include: 

  • Up to three years in a county jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

A judge could decide on felony probation instead of time in a county jail. 

Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you find yourself arrested under California Penal Code 29800 PC, you need a criminal defense attorney competent in the law and its defenses. For the past decade, the H Law Group has been serving the people of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, Ventura, and San Diego County, and believes everybody deserves justice and their time in court. Call them today at (213) 370-0404 for a free consultation.



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