If you’re a felon, getting caught with a firearm in your possession is a serious crime that could result in fines, years in state prison, and more. The Law Office of Cherish Om can provide knowledgeable and compassionate support for those charged with a Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC violation. Contact us today for a consultation.
California’s Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC is a law that prohibits the possession of a firearm by those with a prior felony conviction or who have an outstanding warrant for a felony charge. While the law generally applies to felons, it may in some cases apply to those with multiple misdemeanor offenses or those with a narcotics addiction.
If you’ve been charged with a felony in the past, you’re likely already familiar with the frustrating and complicated process of building a defense case. However, it is important to know that there is considerable room for interpretation in how California’s Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC may apply to you.
In the sections below, we’ll take a look at the law itself, the various penalties that apply to those convicted, and ways our team of criminal defense lawyers can help you avoid conviction.
If you have questions about Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC that require a timely response, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of dedicated and experienced attorneys. The Law Office of Cherish Om has successfully defended many clients who were simply caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, and we can do the same for you.
Defining A Felon In Possession of A Firearm Penal Code 29800(a)(1) PC
The essence of the Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC is mostly defined in the first section:
“(a) (1) Any person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any other state, government, or country, or of an offense enumerated in subdivision (a), (b), or (d) of Section 23515, 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.”
While this explains the general parameters of the law and how one might be in violation of Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC, it should be examined in more specific terms. The following sections will explore the legal language of this code and its implications.
What Does the Law Mean by “Own, Possess, Purchase, or Receive”?
To convict someone of violating Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC, the prosecution will need to prove that a felon, or potential felon, “owned, possessed, purchased, or received” a firearm. In a typical setting, these verbs have pretty generalized meanings, but in a legal setting, they have very specific definitions:
- Own. This refers to legal ownership of a firearm. If you have been convicted of a felony or are addicted to narcotics, you are prohibited from legally owning a firearm in California.
- Possess. Possession means physical possession of a firearm. Even if you don’t legally own the firearm, having it in your physical possession would be a violation of the law for individuals with felony convictions or drug addiction. This includes borrowing or holding it for a neighbor or friend.
- Purchase. Purchase refers to the act of acquiring a firearm through the exchange of money. Certain individuals are not legally allowed to purchase firearms in California, whether in a retail space, trade show, online, or through an acquaintance.
- Receive. This involves obtaining a firearm through any means, not just through purchase. Whether through gift, inheritance, or any other method, the individuals described in this law are not allowed to receive firearms.
Another important distinction when determining if you’ve violated California Penal Code 29800 is if you had knowledge of the firearm being in your possession. For example, let’s say that you were giving someone a ride when you were stopped by law enforcement. If the officer decided to search the vehicle and discovered that your passenger was in possession of a handgun, it could be potentially argued that you had no knowledge of the weapon, and as a result, could not be charged with California Penal Code 29800.
While you may have been arrested for violating California Penal Code 29800, unless you met these definitions of “owned, possessed, purchased, or received” and had knowledge of the weapon itself, you are unlikely to be convicted.
How Does the Law Define “Firearm”?
As you may have guessed, handguns (pistols or revolvers), long guns (shotguns and rifles), and assault weapons are all considered firearms in the eyes of the law. However, there are some gray areas insofar as more specific distinctions.
While they still have the capacity to hurt or kill someone, antique guns (guns made before 1899) and non-powder guns, including BB guns, pellet guns, and airsoft guns, are not considered firearms in the State of California. However, they may still violate California law if they’re used to commit a crime.
What Does the Law Mean by “Felon”?
Typically, a felon is defined as someone who has already gone through the court system and has been convicted of a felony. In this case, however, there is a much more generalized definition of the word. According to California law, you don’t need to be a convicted felon to be charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. Here are a few instances where the word “felon” could apply to you:
- You’ve been convicted of a felony
- You’re wanted for committing a felony
- You committed a felony while in possession of a firearm
- You’ve been convicted of are wanted for a misdemeanor that prohibits the possession of a firearm
- You have a documented addiction to narcotics
If any of these descriptions apply to you and you’ve been found in possession of a firearm, you may be found guilty under PC 29800.
Is It a Crime for a Felon to Possess a Firearm?
According to Firearm Penal Code 29800 PC, the short answer is yes. However, a criminal defense attorney can give you a more nuanced answer based on your specific circumstances.
In order to convict you, the State will have to prove that you were a felon (or defined as a felon according to State law) in knowledgeable possession of a firearm. But as we’ve discussed extensively throughout this article, the words “possession” and “firearm” are clearly defined within the law, and the prosecution must also prove that the offense clearly meets those definitions.
Common Defenses to PC 29800 Charges
Now that we’ve covered the law itself and outlined its explicit definitions, we can explore how a criminal defense lawyer might begin to build a case for your innocence. Your attorney may be able to create reasonable doubt in the court through a number of defense strategies.
In certain cases, individuals accused of violating California Penal Code 29800 may assert a defense of momentary possession. This defense could be applicable if you’ve briefly and unintentionally possessed a firearm without the intent to exercise control or ownership over it.
For instance, let’s say that you’re helping a friend move to a new apartment and an officer stops you as you unknowingly carry a box that contains your friend’s handgun. The officer sees the handgun in the box, sees that you have a felony on your criminal record, and decides to arrest you. In a court of law, your attorney can argue that you only momentarily and unknowingly possessed the handgun.
In some situations, an argument could be made for justifiable possession. Though rare, there may be cases where an individual defined in California Penal Code 29800 might be justified in possessing a firearm, such as someone surrendering their firearms to the police after being charged with a felony. If the person was arrested in the process of delivering their firearm to surrender it, they may be in justifiable possession of the weapon.
If you’ve been charged under California Penal Code 29800 but have reason to believe your possession of the firearm was justified, it is critically important to speak with a lawyer. There are many special cases where the use of or possession of a firearm by a felon may be legal in the eyes of the law.
Illegal Search And Seizure
Possibly one of the most common methods of defense in a felon in possession of a firearm case is asserting that the firearm was discovered through illegal search and seizure. If the police violated your 4th Amendment rights in the process of discovering a firearm and we can prove it to the judge, you may be cleared of your California Penal Code 29800 violation. You may also have enough evidence to file a lawsuit against the officers or entities that handled your arrest.
Here are a few of the ways in which a law enforcement officer can commit an act of illegal search and seizure:
- Arresting you without suspecting you of a crime
- Failing to read you your Miranda Rights
- Denying you access to an attorney
- Using unnecessary force
- Entering your home without a warrant
- Violating the warrant itself
- Discovering the firearm through illegal interrogation tactics
- Searching your person or property without consent and without a crime being committed
This is not a complete list, and there are many other ways your arresting officers may have discovered your firearm illegally. As a felon, it’s important to be incredibly careful of how you interact with police and to know your rights concerning the 4th Amendment. If possible to do so, document all of the details of your arrest, including the names and badge numbers of the arresting officers, witnesses present, and how and where the arrest took place. When in doubt, always contact an attorney.
You Were Defending Yourself or Someone Else
The State of California holds the right to defend yourself and others sacred—regardless of whether or not you’re considered a felon. While it’s still illegal for you to possess a firearm, there may be situations where you’re permitted to use a firearm to save your life or the life of someone else.
In many cases, such a situation would fall under California’s necessity clause, a clause that essentially makes breaking a firearm law legal if you can prove that doing so will prevent greater harm from happening. To use the necessity clause as a defense in a California Penal Code 29800 case, you’ll need to demonstrate several things:
- That you were not in possession of the firearm prior to the attack
- That using the firearm was necessary to stop the attack
- That you ceased possession of the firearm once the attack was diffused
There are several examples in caselaw where these types of scenarios play out, the most notable being People vs Rhodes (2005), in which a felon used a firearm in self-defense against an armed attacker (his cousin). While Rhodes was convicted of several other charges, he was not convicted of violating California Penal Code 29800. The court asserted that:
“…although Rhodes was a convicted felon, he had the right to defend himself, stand his ground, and use the amount of force reasonable under the circumstances.”
Lastly, individuals accused under Penal Code 29800 may mount a defense based on the allegation being false. This could involve presenting evidence that contradicts the prosecution’s claims or demonstrating that there is a case of mistaken identity. A criminal defense attorney may argue that you were not in actual possession of the firearm as alleged, or that there are factual inaccuracies in the case.
Penalties for Conviction of Penal Code 29800(a)(1) PC
If you’re found guilty of violating Penal Code 29800(a)(1), your penalty will typically range between probation and three years in county jail, plus a $10,000 fine. However, there are many circumstances and case details that could result in the enhancement of your punishment or that could reduce your sentencing. Here are some of them:
- If your former or current charges include a violent crime
- If you have two out of three strikes described by California’s “Three Strikes Policy”
- If you violated your probation
- If you concealed the firearm within a vehicle
In some cases, the court may consider a more rehabilitative approach for non-felons suffering from a narcotic addiction, or in the case of a j
Frequently Asked Questions
Firearm offenses (and related offenses) described under PC 29800 can be complex. Navigating them often requires assistance from an experienced attorney. If you have questions about your charges, the best way to get clarity is by speaking with a legal professional. In the meantime, check out our answers to two of our most frequently asked questions.
• Does a felon with a firearm conviction lead to deportation?
A felon with a firearm conviction may face deportation consequences, as immigration laws in the United States consider certain criminal convictions as grounds for removal. Possession of a firearm by a felon is a serious offense and can trigger deportation proceedings, especially if the crime is categorized as an aggravated felony offense under immigration law.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines grounds for deportation, and convictions related to firearms often fall within these grounds. The actual impact on immigration status will depend on various factors, including the specific nature of the conviction, the person’s immigration status, and any applicable waivers or defenses that may be available.
• How can I restore the right to own or possess a gun?
Restoring the right to own or possess a gun after a conviction under CPC §29800 involves several potential avenues, each with its own requirements:
- Expungement. In California, expungement is a process by which a person can petition the court to set aside a conviction. While an expunged conviction does not automatically restore firearm rights, it can be a step toward demonstrating rehabilitation.
- Reduction in charges. Restoring your right to gun ownership may involve petitioning the court to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor conviction, which could improve the your chances of regaining firearm rights.
- Certificate of Rehabilitation (Governor’s pardon). A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order declaring that a person convicted of a felony is now rehabilitated. If granted, it may be presented to the governor as an application for a pardon, which could restore your gun rights.
- A crime that was a misdemeanor before being added to CPC §29800. If a crime was a misdemeanor before being added to CPC §29800, individuals convicted under the revised law may face less severe consequences or get their conviction overturned, restoring your right to own a firearm.
The Law Office of Cherish Om: Leading Criminal Defense Lawyers in California
If you’re feeling lost in the legal process, struggling to get your charges expunged, or attempting to restore your right to own a firearm again, the most effective decision you can make is to hire a criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf. Getting your record expunged is often exhausting, and doing it on your own can be a long and difficult process.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you organize, research, fill out paperwork, and present crucial evidence on your behalf. The Law Office of Cherish Om has you covered when you need representation that will count. Contact our law firm to schedule a consultation today.