California’s gun control laws are constantly changing and evolving. They are listed under California Penal Code 29805 and were most recently updated in January of 2019. Prior to this time, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, you would be subject to a 10-year prohibition on owning firearms. Even though this was for misdemeanors, the act itself had to reach a severity threshold for the ban to apply. However, under the law, as it is currently constituted since 2019, any misdemeanor domestic violence charge no matter how severe, comes with a lifetime ban on ownership or possessing firearms. If your conviction was prior to January 1, 2019, then you continue to be subject to the law from that time.
Actual possession of a firearm means that you have the weapon on your person and control of its use. Constructive possession of a firearm means that you have a firearm accessible to you for use if it is not on your person. This can include stored at home, your office, your car, or another storage location. If you violate the possession laws related to your domestic violence conviction, then that violation could be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. It is up to the discretion of the District Attorney to make that determination. They will consider your criminal history along with the facts of the case to make the decision.
Under California Penal Code Section 29800, if you “own, purchase, receive, or possess a firearm while prohibited by law from doing so,” you are subject to separate charges from the crime with which you are originally charged. This could mean facing up to 3 years imprisonment in a state penitentiary. You may also be subject to a maximum $10,000 fine. If this was a case that was related to a domestic violence situation, then your firearm ban would already be in place.
You may have some recourse for restoring your gun rights, but these options are only available in certain circumstances. For instance, if your crime was not charged as a felony and did not involve a dangerous weapon, you may be able to petition for the lifting of the ban. However, domestic violence convictions make it very hard to restore gun rights. Under federal law, the only way to do it is if the Governor grants you a full and unconditional pardon.
Laws are always being updated and changed to reflect new realities and unique situations. When you are accused of any crime, it is very important that you have a firm grasp of your rights under the law and how they can protect you. The best way to do that is by hiring a reliable and experienced criminal defense attorney. They will be able to walk you through the process, go through your options, and construct a strategy for your defense. You are not alone, so call or email us today for your first consultation.