Felon with a Firearm

CA’s “Felon with a Firearm” Law

Man holding handgunIn California, penal code 29800 is often called the “Felon with a Firearm” law. But who sits under its jurisdiction? How does the state define things like felon and firearm?

The Basics

According to the law, there are three types of California residents who aren’t allowed guns in any way, shape or form:

– Those convicted of a felony
– Those convicted of specific misdemeanors
– Long-time drug addicts

These restrictions apply to owning, selling, trading or even just carrying a firearm.

Citizens who find themselves arrested under the “Felon with a Firearm” law should contact a lawyer or bail bondsman right away.

Understanding The Terms

“Felons” are defined as anyone who has been found guilty of a felony offense. This applies to conviction both in the state of California and beyond.

Certain misdemeanors will also prohibit one’s access to firearms. For example, convicted sex offenders aren’t allowed to posses a firearm even for self-defense purposes. There are also restrictions placed on anyone previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.

Drug addiction can result in a ban on firearms, though these waters are much murkier. There are no national standards for what makes an addict beyond the proof of “sufficiently consistent” and “prolonged” drug use. Generally speaking, most prosecutors don’t seek a firearm ban on drug users unless they’re already in court for another, more serious charge.

Defining A Firearm

Under California law, a “firearm” is anything that shoots, fires or launches a projectile as a weapon. This includes:

– Handguns
– Pistols
– Rifles
– Shotguns
– Flare guns

In the case of flare guns, it doesn’t matter that the device was made for a non-weaponized purpose. Emergency flares are projectiles fired from a barrel; they count under the law. Tasers sometimes apply as well.

Both loaded and unloaded weapons are subject to the “Felon with a Firearm” law.

Possession Laws

Gun laws apply to two different types of possession: actual possession and constructive possession.

Actual possession is defined as an individual with their hands literally and physically using a firearm. This means holding, loading, firing or even just aiming a gun.

Constructive possession applies to anyone who owns a gun even if they aren’t using it. This includes rifles on a rack or guns in a gun safe. Citizens can also be charged with constructive possession if it can be proved that they had knowledge of a gun on their property; it doesn’t matter if the citizen in question actually owns it.

Crime and Punishment

People who break the “Felon with a Firearm” law are subject to fines, imprisonment and bans of varying severity on possessing weapons of any kind. The minimum ban is 10 years; the maximum ban is a lifelong prohibition.

California gun laws are full of exceptions and technicalities, and a trained legal professional might be able to reduce the charges by exploiting a weakness in the penal code.

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