Losing gun ownership rights in California means that for certain individuals, it can be a crime to own or be in possession of a firearm. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we represent individuals facing weapons charges, including charges of being a felon with a firearm. It is important to assess whether legal defenses may apply to reduce or eliminate your criminal charges. San Bernardino and Riverside County gun crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings is skilled in negotiation and litigation, and he uses a wide range of tactics to fight for defendants.
California Penal Code section 29800 makes it a crime to hold the status of “felon with a firearm.” The group of people covered by this crime include individuals convicted of felony crimes, as well as those convicted of certain misdemeanors and narcotic drug addicts. A conviction under PC 29800 carries serious consequences as a potential felony crime, which may result in a fine of up to $10,000 and years of imprisonment.
To convict a defendant of being a felon with a firearm, the State of California must show that the defendant knowingly received, purchased, owned, or possessed a firearm and that they were previously convicted of a felony. Generally, a felony is a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. Under California law, being convicted of a felony, such as rape or murder, typically results in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to possess a firearm.
According to California’s self-defense law, certain allegedly criminal conduct may be excused if an individual is under an immediate threat. For this defense to apply to a person facing a charge under PC 29800, the defendant must have held a reasonable belief that they or another person were in imminent danger of great bodily injury, that a firearm unexpectedly became available, and that there was no alternative way to avoid the danger. The requirement that there was not an alternative way to avoid the danger specifically applies to defendants subject to Penal Code 29800. For the majority of self-defense laws, there is no requirement or duty to retreat. Individuals are entitled to stand their ground and even pursue the assailant until the threat is gone.
Another legal defense that may apply to people in San Bernardino or Riverside County who are facing a charge of being a felon with a firearm involves showing that possession of the gun was momentary, and it was simply to abandon, destroy, or dispose of the weapon. As an affirmative defense, the defendant must prove all the elements of the defense. The defendant must show that they possessed the weapon for only a transitory period, for the purpose of destruction or disposal of the gun, and that possession was not to prevent the weapon from being seized by the police or other law enforcement officers.
Finally, if the defendant did not legally possess a firearm, they cannot be convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. There are various ways in which an individual may not have possession, and one common defense is that the defendant did not know of the presence of the gun. For example, if at the time of the offense, the defendant borrowed a car and was unaware of the presence of a gun, they would not be deemed to have been legally in possession of the weapon. A criminal defense attorney can help set forth a strong legal argument that is tailored to your situation.
At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we represent people accused of weapons offenses, violent crimes, and many other crimes. To discuss the details of your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, reach our office by phone at (951) 686-3457 or online. Gregory H. Comings is proud to assist defendants in communities throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, such as Moreno Valley, Temecula, Indio, Highland, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Fontana, San Bernardino, and Rancho Cucamonga.