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Felon In Possession of a Firearm in California: PC 29800

Nov 17, 2020 | Gun Laws

Can a California Felon Be in Possession of a Firearm?

California statute Penal Code 29800 makes it a felony offense for a convicted felon, or wanted felon, to be in possession of a firearm.

29800 PC states that “Any person who has been convicted of, or has an outstanding warrant for, a felony under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any other state, government, or country…or who is addicted to the use of any narcotic drug, and who owns, purchases, receives, or has in possession or under custody or control any firearm is guilty of a felony.”

Under this statute, any person convicted or wanted for a felony offense, may not possess a firearm, or they will be in violation of Penal Code 29800. This statute also applies to those who are addicted to any narcotic drug, and previous firearm offenders.

  • Addiction requires a physical and emotional dependency on a narcotic drug; with an increased tolerance to the narcotics effects.
  • Previous firearm offenses include:
    • Brandishing a firearm on more than two occasions, and a conviction for the violent use of a firearm.

What Are the Penalties for Violating California PC 29800?

Penalties for a conviction under Penal Code 29800 may result in:

  • A sentence of up to three years in the county jail and
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Possible award of felony probation in lieu of jail time by a judge.

What Are the Legal Defenses of a Felon in Possession of a Firearm?

Defendants can argue against a charge for violation of this statute by proving momentary possession, justifiable possession and illegal search and seizure.

  • Momentary Possession can be used as a defense argument if the defendant was in possession of the firearm temporarily to dispose of it, without the intention to prevent law enforcement officials from seizing the firearm.
  • Justified Possession can be used as a defense if the defendant:
  • Took the firearm from a person committing a crime,
  • Possessed the firearm no longer than necessary to take to law enforcement, or
  • Gave prior notice to law enforcement before delivering the gun.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure defense can be used if authorities illegally obtain the firearm through an unjust search and seizure. Meaning there was no probable cause and no search warrant. Unlawful search and seizure of a firearm will most likely lead to case dismissal.
  • Can a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Have the Charges Expunged?

    Expungement for a violation of California Penal Code 29800 can be provided given that the defendant completed the jail term and/or probation period. Expungement cannot be granted to serious sex offenders, or a previous inmate in a California State Prison.

    May Reduction in Charges Be Granted?

    A defendant can reclaim gun rights by reducing their felony charges to a misdemeanor. This can happen with a wobbler offense. A felony wobbler may be petitioned to the court, to be reduced to a misdemeanor.

    What Are the Federal Restrictions on Possessing a Firearm?

    Federal law prohibits the following people from owning a gun:

    • People under indictment for a crime
    • Dishonorably discharged military servicemen
    • Illegal Aliens
    • People who renounced US Citizenship
    • A person under a court ordered suspicion of stalking
    • Fugitives of the law.