Can a Convicted Felon Own a Gun in California?
California’s gun laws are known for being some of the toughest in the country. For example, if you are convicted of a felony, and in some cases even a misdemeanor, you will lose your right to own a gun. There are other categories of people in addition to felons who are prohibited from owning guns, including:
- Individuals with mental illness
- Individuals addicted to narcotics
In addition to lifetime bans, there are various misdemeanors that carry a ten-year ban on gun ownership. And while there are several paths to reattaining your right to own a gun, they take time and are only awarded at the discretion of the governor of California.
Below is a more in-depth look at gun laws in California.
Convicted Felons Cannot Own a Gun in California
Article 1 of the California Penal Code 29800 states that any person who has been convicted of a felony in California or any other state or who is addicted to narcotics is guilty of a felony if they own, purchase, receive, or have a firearm under their control or custody.
Furthermore, California Penal Code 417 issues a lifetime ban on owning a firearm to individuals who have been convicted of two or more misdemeanors in which they brandished a weapon. In fact, there are certain misdemeanors that lead to a lifetime ban for only one offense.
Such infractions include:
- Assaulting another with any firearm
- Assaulting another with an assault weapon
- Assaulting an officer of the peace with a firearm
- Shooting a firearm at a home or vehicle
Finally, in addition to lifetime bans for the above misdemeanors, there are numerous misdemeanors that carry a ten-year ban on owning a firearm. While this is far from every misdemeanor on the books, weapons-related misdemeanors, those involving domestic violence, and those directed at police officers are a few that carry a ten-year ban on owning a firearm.
Having Your Right to Own a Gun Restored
If you have been convicted of a felony in California or elsewhere, and are seeking to have your right to gun ownership restored, there is a way to do so. The easiest way to seek to restore your right to gun ownership is by having your felony reduced to a misdemeanor. While this doesn’t work in every case, it is a possibility for many charges that could have gone either way. In California, these types of charges are called “wobblers.”
With the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer, you can petition the court to reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor. Note, however, that if the misdemeanor is one that carries a lifetime ban or even a ten-year ban on owning a gun, you will still be unable to own a gun, either for life or until the ten-year period is fulfilled.
The other way to restore your right to gun ownership is via a pardon issued by the governor of the jurisdiction where you were convicted of the felony. The exception to this is if you were convicted of a felony under federal law in which case you would need to appeal to the President for a pardon.
Typically, requests for pardon are only considered if ten years have elapsed since the end of your probation and if you have not been convicted of any additional crimes during that time. Additionally, before applying for a pardon, you may also need to request the court for a certificate of rehabilitation.
Once you have received your certificate of rehabilitation you are eligible to apply for the pardon. It should be noted, however, that the process is slightly different if you currently live in a state other than California. There are also additional parties that need to be informed of your intent to apply for a pardon.
Because the process of restoring your right to own a gun is lengthy and complex, it is advised you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney to assist you.