It’s a concern many gun owners have when faced with felony charges: If convicted, will they lose their guns, and if so, is there any way to get them back? Some people believe the Second Amendment protects them from losing their rights to guns if convicted, but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case in California. Read on for what you need to know.
Are My Guns Gone for Good if I’m Convicted of a Felony in California?
Not necessarily, but it may not be easy to have your gun rights restored. California has a lifelong ban on firearms for people convicted of felonies. In some cases, appealing to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor which, depending on the type of crime, theoretically allows you to have guns again. However, federal law doesn’t recognize state-level reductions in conviction status, meaning that you’re likely to be rejected if you try to purchase a gun through a federally licensed dealer. Buying guns through less legal methods could cause legal problems down the road if any new charges are applied to you and the courts discover you have illegally obtained guns.
It’s most likely to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor in cases where the felony itself didn’t involve a dangerous weapon or domestic violence. In those cases, it’s challenging to have the felony charges reduced.
One way to overcome that is to receive a pardon from California’s governor or the U.S. president. Obtaining a pardon from the president is tremendously difficult. To receive a pardon from the governor, it’s usually required that the person requesting it has demonstrated law-abiding behavior for a considerable period. Typically the governor’s office won’t consider pardoning someone unless they’ve been released from probation or parole and have a clean record for at least ten years. Also, the person applying should have lived in California for at least seven years before requesting the pardon.
Are Felonies the Only Convictions That Lead to Loss of Gun Rights in California?
No. Some misdemeanors can also result in the loss of gun rights, especially those that involve domestic abuse or drug convictions. In those cases, the loss of gun rights isn’t necessarily lifelong, but it can be. Others who are prevented from possessing firearms include people addicted to drugs, ordered by the court not to own guns while on probation, anyone under the age of 18, or who have been diagnosed as mentally ill.
What Other Convictions Lead to the Loss of Gun Rights in California?
As noted above, some misdemeanor convictions can lead to the loss of gun rights. Two misdemeanor convictions for brandishing a gun or one misdemeanor conviction for assault with a firearm can also lead to lifelong gun bans.
There are several misdemeanors that, if they lead to conviction, result in a 10-year firearms ban. These charges include charges of assault and battery or making criminal threats.
How Can I Apply for a Pardon from the Governor?
If you lived in California and weren’t convicted of some misdemeanor sex crimes, you’re eligible to request a pardon from the governor. The process begins with filing for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation.
A petition must be filed with the superior court to earn this certificate. Earning the certificate does not clear criminal charges from your record. But it does state that you have not continued to break any laws and have, in general, led a legally sound life since your prior conviction. That’s one of the reasons requesting this certificate must wait until someone has had several years with no further offenses; it’s meant to demonstrate that the person is capable of legally managing their life for long periods.
The certificate is automatically used to apply for a pardon on your behalf if granted. It has additional benefits. One is that state licensing agencies cannot deny you a license solely on the conviction. Another is the possibility (although it’s not guaranteed) that the person granted the certificate may be released from the obligation to register as a sex offender.
What Does It Take to Petition for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation?
The person applying must fill out the court’s paperwork. In addition, they must provide information about any felony conviction they’re asking the court to consider as part of the rehabilitation process. One petition can include several convictions; they don’t need to be done separately.
Information about the convictions that the petitioner needs to supply the court includes:
- Specific charge of each conviction
- Date of each conviction and the county in which it occurred
- Sentencing details
- Date of release from prison or jail, or date of discharge from probation or parole
This information can be obtained by requesting copies of your criminal records from the Department of Justice. While there is a $25 fee to acquire the records, there are no filing fees or court costs to petition for the certificate.
What Should I Do if I’m Facing Felony Charges and Am Worried About My Gun Rights?
Give us a call as soon as possible at 949-305-7995 to set up a free consultation. Working with knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys is the first step toward not being convicted of a felony and facing the loss of your firearms rights. We understand your concerns and will work hard to deliver the best possible outcomes for your case.
Felony charges are serious and require intense preparation. We have extensive experience in these cases and familiarity with how the cases go, how judges rule, and what prosecutors will do to try and get the conviction.