Felonies are crimes that are considered to be serious or dangerous. The penalties for these more serious types of crimes will usually involve a prison sentence of more than one year as well as hefty criminal fines.
A felon is an individual who has been formally tried and convicted of a felony crime. It is important to note that there is a difference between a felony arrest and a felony charge.
An individual who has been arrested on suspicion of a felony but has not yet been charged and convicted of the felony is not considered a felon.
Can Felons Own a Firearm?
When a defendant is convicted of a felony, they may lose several rights, including the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm. There are many reasons these rights are restricted, including, but not limited to:
- If the defendant was convicted of a violent felony, especially one involving a firearm, prohibiting them from owning one may help prevent a repeat offense;
- It may serve as a deterrent for other individuals who commit felony offenses.
It is important to note that there may be differences between state and federal felony sentencing guidelines, in addition to a loss of privileges, for example, the right to own a firearm. There may also be different definitions of what is considered a firearm, for example, a handgun versus a flare gun.
There may also be certain exceptions, such as with white-collar crimes.
What Weapons Can a Felon Own?
Although individuals who are convicted of a felony, in general, cannot own a firearm, they may, in some cases, be permitted to own other types of weapons. This is because they still have a right to protect themselves and their homes by using some types of weapons, which varies by state.
Examples of weapons a felon may be permitted to own include, but may not be limited to:
- Knives with blades under a specified length;
- Crossbows or bows and arrows;
- Pellet guns.
The purpose of prohibiting felons from owning firearms is not intended to remove the felon’s ability to defend themselves or go hunting. Instead, it is to prevent or deter the use of a firearm in order to commit additional crimes.
What Will Happen if a Felon Possesses a Firearm?
In general, felons are still permitted to associate with or be around individuals who own firearms. However, this may be a complex issue if the firearm itself is near or if the individual who owns the firearm resides with the convicted felon.
There are certain types of situations in which a convicted felon may be found guilty of constructive possession of a firearm. For example, if the convicted felon was aware that the firearm was in the location and they had the ability to maintain control of it.
There are also some laws that distinguish between a felon possessing a gun and a felon owning a gun. This may considerably change the outcome of the felon’s criminal liability.
A felon in possession of a firearm is an offense that is a felony in itself. Typically, it is punishable by a prison sentence that ranges from one to three years as well as criminal fines, depending on the state laws.
A conviction of this offense would harm the individual’s ability to own a firearm in the future. A second or third offense will likely result in considerably more severe criminal punishments, for example, longer prison sentences and higher fines.
Do Felons Have Restricted Rights?
If an individual is convicted of a felony, it may reduce their civil rights. For example, some states prohibit felons from possessing weapons or body armor, especially if they were convicted of a violent crime.
A felony conviction may also affect many other areas of an individual’s life, including their child visitation or custody rights or their ability to be hired for certain jobs. In some cases, a felon may be able to restore their restricted or removed rights once they have served their sentence.
In certain cases, a felon’s right to own a firearm may be restored if the felony is expunged or removed from the individual’s record.
However, this may be difficult to do as the individual may have to wait several years following their conviction and maintain a clean criminal record. In certain cases, the federal laws and state laws governing gun ownership may be different.
This means that even if an individual’s gun ownership rights are restored at the state level, they may still be prohibited from owning a gun at the federal level. An individual can consult with an attorney who can advise them of their state’s gun restoration laws in order to determine their eligibility for gun ownership rights restoration.
Is It Illegal for a Felon to Own a Firearm in California?
Under California gun laws, certain individuals are prohibited from owning firearms, including residents and individuals under 21 years of age. These also include laws barring felons from possessing firearms, often called the felon with a firearm law.
Is It a Violation to Own a Firearm if I Am a Felon?
In the State of California, a convicted felon is prohibited from purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm if they have been convicted of certain offenses.
What Does a “Certain Offense” Mean?
Offenses that may restrict individuals from purchasing, owning, or possessing firearms include:
- Having two or more misdemeanors;
- Having any prior felony convictions;
- Using or being addicted to any type of narcotic drug.
This law also includes federal crimes if the defendant spent 30 days or more in a federal correctional facility or received a fine of $1,000 or more.
Is Possessing a Gun as a Felon the Same as Owning an Illegal Firearm?
Possessing a gun as a felon is not the same as owning an illegal firearm. Owning an illegal firearm means obtaining a firearm in an illegal manner or obtaining an illegal weapon, no matter how it was purchased.
What’s the Penalty for Violating Having a Firearm as a Felon?
In the State of California, violating the felon with a firearm law is classified as a felony. If convicted, an individual may face 16 months to 3 years in jail as well as criminal fines of up to $10,000.
A court may also require a defendant to forfeit all of their weapons. If the defendant is an immigrant, they may also face deportation.
Are There Any Defenses I Can Use to Fight This Charge?
There are some defenses a defendant may be able to use to fight the charge, depending on the facts of the case. Defenses that may be available include:
- The defendant had momentary possession;
- The defendant possessed the firearm in order to take it from a criminal and give it to the proper authority;
- The defendant did not have knowledge of the firearm.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Fight This Charge?
If you are facing a felon with a firearm charge in California, it is essential to consult with a California criminal lawyer as soon as you can. These are serious charges with potentially serious consequences.
Your lawyer can help you fight the charges by preparing the best possible defense in your case and, if possible, negotiating with the prosecution for a deal or a reduction in your charges.