California Penal Code Section 29800 PC: Felon In Possession Of A Firearm

firearm possession

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

While the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a general right to bear arms, there are several ways that a person can forfeit his or her gun ownership rights. For those who have lost these rights, subsequent possession of a firearm is illegal under California Penal Code Section 29800 PC.

California Penal Code Section 29800 PC applies to three distinct classes of people:

  1. Those who were convicted of a felony
  2. People convicted of certain misdemeanors
  3. AND narcotic drug addicts.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of possessing a firearm by a narcotic addict, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant knowingly owned, purchased, received or possessed a firearm
  2. AND at the time the defendant did this, he or she was addicted to a narcotic drug.

A person is considered to be addicted to a narcotic drug if:

  1. The person has become emotionally dependent on the drug so that he or she experiences a compulsive needs to use the drug
  2. The person has developed a tolerance to the drug’s effects and thus requires larger doses
  3. AND the person has become physically dependent, suffering withdrawal symptoms if deprived of the drug.

If the defendant is a felon or has certain misdemeanor convictions, in order to be convicted under California Penal Code Section 29800 PC a prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant knowingly purchased, received, owned or possessed a firearm
  2. AND the defendant was previously convicted of a felony or a specific misdemeanor that prohibited him or her from lawfully owning a firearm.

Potential misdemeanor convictions that would trigger a prohibition against gun ownership include the following:

  1. Assault with a Deadly Weapon – California Penal Code Section 245 PC
  2. Brandishing a Weapon – California Penal Code Section 417 PC
  3. Various Sex Offenses

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Carrying a Concealed Firearm - California Penal Code Section 25400 PC
  2. Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public - California Penal Code Section 25850 PC
  3. Manufacturing, Selling or Possessing Dangerous Weapons - California Penal Code Section 16590 PC
  4. Brandishing a Weapon or Firearm – California Penal Code Section 417 PC

3. Examples

A man is stopped during a routine traffic stop. When interacting with the man, the law enforcement officer who stopped the vehicle notices what appears to be a gun in the backseat of the vehicle. The man has a prior felony theft conviction, however it is very old. The man could be charged with felon in possession of a firearm in violation of California Penal Code Section 29800 PC.

In another example, a man is on parole for a felony offense and lives with a roommate. During a routine search, a gun is found in the roommate’s area. The man had no knowledge that his roommate possessed a firearm. This man would not be criminally liable for felon in possession of a firearm because he did not knowingly possess the weapon.

4. Defenses to Felon in Possession of a Firearm

If the firearm in question was discovered as the result of an unlawful search and seizure, the defendant may be able to challenge whether there was sufficient probable cause to justify the stop or search. If successful, the firearm would be suppressed and the prosecutor would be unable to proceed.

5. Penalties

Possession of a firearm by a felon or otherwise prohibited person is a felony offense that is punishable by up to three years in prison.

If the defendant has a prior conviction for certain misdemeanor offenses, namely making criminal threats in violation of California Penal Code Section 422 PC, stalking in violation of California Penal Code Section 646.9 PC or a domestic violence offense, possessing a firearm within 10 years of the misdemeanor conviction is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

6. Criminal Defense for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

If you or a loved one have been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who previously prosecuted major felonies and knows how best to defend these types of cases. Mr. Kraut is highly respected as a knowledgeable advocate who fights hard on behalf of his clients.

For more information about felon in possession of a firearm charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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