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Owning a gun can bring you peace of mind, especially if the purpose of possessing a firearm is household protection. You may own a gun for a hobby or a competitive sport. No matter your reasoning for owning a gun, both federal and California state laws could ban you from possessing firearms. State and Federal courts have consistently ruled that these laws do not violate your Second Amendment right to own and bear arms.
In California, if you are given a restraining order, you are prohibited from possessing a gun for ten years. There are some instances that result in a lifetime ban, too. In many criminal misdemeanor cases, your guns could be confiscated, legally, as early as the arraignment hearing. If you are found not guilty and you owned the gun legally, it will be returned to you. Although it may come as a surprise to most people, it is easy to lose your right to possess a gun for a long time.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Most people know that domestic violence involves violence between members of a family. California law broadens that definition to include abuse or threats of abuse toward a person with whom you have had an intimate relationship. Such a person could include:
- Anyone you currently date or used to date
- The mother or father of your child
- A current or former fiancé(s)
- A current or former spouse(s)
- A person you live with or have lived with in the past
Federal law defines domestic violence as the use or attempted use of physical force and threatened use of a deadly weapon. Further, federal law identifies domestic violence as only being against:
- A current or former spouse
- A parent or guardian of the victim
- A person who has a child
Domestic violence can take many different forms, and facing such criminal charges can be serious. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need a strong defense lawyer on your side to help you defend yourself.
After a Domestic Violence Conviction, How Can You Lose Your Gun Rights?
As stated earlier, both federal and California state laws ban people with domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms. The judge at the arraignment hearing can issue a domestic violence restraining order.
Arraignment hearings are hearings in which a judge formally tells a person what crimes they have been charged with committing. The accused is then informed of their legal and constitutional rights, and they enter a plea. The plea usually takes the form of guilty or not guilty. During that hearing, a judge will enter a restraining order, which legally requires law enforcement to confiscate your guns. The following are laws that affect your rights to own a gun:
California’s “Felon with a Firearm” Law
Under California Penal Code 29800 PC, anyone convicted of a felony offense in any state or country cannot own, possess, purchase, or receive a firearm in California. If you are convicted of felony domestic violence, you are banned from owning or possessing a firearm for life. Violating Penal Code 29800 is an additional felony offense, and you could be convicted and receive up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
California’s Ten-Year Ban on Firearms
Not every instance of domestic violence includes a physical injury. When there is no evidence of physical injury from the abuse, the state prosecutor only can charge someone with a misdemeanor. It is also possible that an experienced and seasoned attorney could negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor that includes a reduction in charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
California’s Penal Code 29805 PC contains nearly forty possible misdemeanor offenses that carry a ten-year firearms ban. In addition, a misdemeanor conviction of Penal Code 273.5 PC will carry a full lifetime ban. The only way out of such a ban is a full pardon by the California Governor or a narrower pardon that explicitly reinstates your right to own a firearm. Such crimes include battery, threats, and stalking.
Federal Law Firearms Ban
Under 18 United States Code 922(g), a federal domestic violence conviction immediately triggers a lifetime ban on owning firearms. In instances where federal and California laws come into conflict, federal law prevails.
People who are convicted of the California crime of domestic violence will never legally be allowed to own a gun anywhere in the United States.
Under federal law, if you are convicted of possessing a firearm in violation of a ban, you can face serious consequences. Such consequences include a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to ten years in federal prison.
Contact the Experienced California Criminal Defense Attorneys at Dod Law, APC
California treats domestic violence charges seriously, even for misdemeanors. The sooner you act to shield yourself, the better armed you will be. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can work with you and help you defend your rights.
At Dod Law, APC, we can assess your situation and present you with your best legal options. Attorney Dod will do everything possible to protect you and your rights. Having worked on over 6,500 criminal cases, he has the skills and experience needed to help you resolve your domestic violence case. To schedule a free consultation, you can call (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form today.