Firearms are deadly weapons that can make any scenario more dangerous. Because of their power and potential to inflict harm, those convicted of a felony are not legally permitted to own, purchase, receive, posses, control or use a firearm in any way. If you've been convicted of a felony and are caught owning, purchasing, receiving, possessing or controlling a gun in any way, you could face an additional felony charge under California Penal Code 29800. Likewise, if you have been convicted of certain misdemeanors and are caught in control or custody of a firearm within ten years of the conviction, you can face an additional misdemeanor or felony charge under California Penal Code 29805. The exact sentencing you will face will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the crime. At a minimum, your gun rights can be revoked for ten years. Felons can face 16 months or two to three years in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Those with certain misdemeanor convictions, usually involving guns, force or violence, can face either a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 or a felony charge, punishable by 16 months, or two to three years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Firearm is broadly construed; handguns, rifles and shotguns are all considered firearms. This means that even if you use your shotgun for hunting purposes, you can still face a criminal charge.
If you are facing an illegal use of a firearm charge due to a prior criminal conviction, consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. To be convicted of illegally possessing a gun with a criminal conviction under California Penal Codes 29800 and 29805, the prosecution must prove you knowingly owned, purchased, received, possessed, controlled or used a firearm. Simply being near a gun isn't enough to convict you. Crucially, you must have knowingly had some custody or control over the firearm, meaning you were able to use it if you wished to do so. This is a small, but important detail in an illegal possession of a gun case. Even if you are not in physical possession of the firearm, you can be convicted if you had a gun stored in your car or in your house. However, if you were only in proximity to a firearm, but had no knowledge of it, you cannot be charged. This is important because many Californians have guns so it is feasible that you would be with someone who has a gun but not be aware of it. Similarly, if someone near you or your property had a gun in his or her possession, as long as you had no access or option to handle it, you cannot be charged because you were not in custody or control of the firearm. There are certain scenarios where being in custody or control of a firearm may not result in a conviction under California Penal Code 29800 or 29805. Self-defense, possessing the gun only to dispose of it or otherwise possessing it momentarily but acting in accordance with the law may be exceptions to the rule.
It is also important to keep in mind that if you have a domestic violence restraining order against you, you may have to relinquish any firearms you have and could face a criminal charge if you fail to do so. If you had a domestic violence action against you or have been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, you must relinquish your firearms according to the court's instructions. You are able to sell them to a licensed dealer, or store it with one, or turn it in to the local authorities. Always remember, your right to carry a gun is not absolute. The Second Amendment provides that US citizens have the right to "keep and bear arms", however this is one of the most debated Amendments to the Constitution. Many people believe that our society is such that this right is a public threat and no longer a reasonable right. Accordingly, certain people can be convicted of a crime for being in custody or control of a firearm in the interest of public safety. California in particular is strict on gun laws, so it is never advisable to take any chances. Convicted criminals case face additional criminal charges for just having a gun and those who involve a gun in their crime can face harsher sentencing.
If you are facing charges of illegal possession of a firearm and are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.