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Felon in Possession of a Firearm – California Penal Code 29800

Posted by Sam Israels | Dec 06, 2019

It's common knowledge the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives citizens the legal right to bear arms, but it's possible to have you gun ownership rights forfeited.

For example, California Penal Code 29800 makes it a crime for anyone who convicted of a felony offense, some misdemeanor offenses, or who is a habitual drug user, to own or possess a firearm. PC 29800 also applies to anyone convicted under federal law.

In order to be convicted, you don't have to be in actual possession of firearm, you only need to have access or control of it. Penal Code 29800 contains exceptions in the language that is often confusing, but in the simplest terms, it's a crime to have access to a firearm if you are a convicted felon.

This means if you have a roommate with a firearm in the home, you could potentially face charges, depending on the circumstances and ability to access the weapon.

For example, if your parole officer conducts a routine search of your home and locates the roommate's firearm, it might be considered that you had access to it, and face an arrest. This could even apply to a situation where you didn't even know there was a firearm in the home.

If you are accused of Penal Code 29800 felon in possession of a firearm, you need to consult with a criminal defense lawyer right away. A conviction can lead to severe penalties. Don't make any statements to police as you might make incriminating statements.

To give readers a better understanding on the laws on felon in possession of a firearm, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Definition of PC 29800 Felon in Possession of a Firearm

California Penal Code 29800 defines the crime felon in possession of a firearm by stating it's unlawful for anyone with a prior felony offense conviction, misdemeanor crime of a carrying a firearm, or anyone deemed a habitual drug user, to own possess, use, store, receive, sell, or have a firearm in their care or custody.

A “felon” is defined as anyone convicted of a felony crime in any state, or by any other government or country.  This includes a conviction under federal law, or a similar California crime that could result in felony penalties, or sentenced to a federal facility for over 30 days, or fined more than $1,000, or both.

A “habitual drug user” is any person who is an addict physically dependent on a drug.

A “firearm” is any device designed for use as a weapon with a projectile expelled through the barrel by explosion, including pistols, rifles, revolvers, pistols, and a shotgun. It does not have to be loaded.

Misdemeanor Convictions

Misdemeanor convictions that will qualify for prosecution under Penal Code 29800 include assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code 245, brandishing a weapon under Penal Code 417, openly carrying an unloaded firearm under Penal Code 26350 PC, and certain California sex crimes.

Elements of the Crime 

In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for Penal Code 29800 felon in possession of a firearm, they must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, all the elements listed in CALCRIM 2510, or CAMCRIM 2511 Jury instructions:

  • You owned, possessed, purchased, or received a firearm
  • You had knowledge you were in possession of a firearm
  • You have a prior conviction of a felony or misdemeanor conviction prohibiting you from owning a firearm, or deemed a habitual drug offender.

Again, you don't have to be actually holding a weapon in your hand, or have actual possession of a firearm to be convicted of violating Penal Code 29800. If you just have access or control of a firearm, you can still be convicted.

Penalties for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

If convicted of Penal Code 29800 felon with a firearm, the legal penalties can be severe. It's a felony offense that can't be reduced to a misdemeanor. The penalties include up to three years in county jail, a $10,00 fine, or both.

You could also be ordered to forfeit the firearm. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you could face deportation.

 Defenses for Felon with a Firearm Charges

If you have been charged with PC 29800, felon in possession of a firearm, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use a wide range of strategies for best possible outcome.

Lack of knowledge

We might be able to make an argument you were not aware the of the firearm's presence and can't be guilty of felon in possession of a firearm. Perhaps a friend has possession of the firearm without your knowledge and you it's reasonable to conclude you simply didn't know.

Lack of possession

Our lawyers may be able to make a reasonable argument you didn't have legal possession of the firearm.  It must be proven you had access or control of the firearm. We might be able to prove there is insufficient evidence showing you actually had constructive possession and can't be guilty.


We might be able to make a self-defense argument that you were under an immediate threat of harm. This would require proving you had a reasonable belief you or someone else was in immediate danger of suffering a great bodily injury, and with no planning, the firearm was available, and it was necessary to defend yourself.

False accusation

We might be able to argue you were wrongfully arrested after there was a false allegation against you. Perhaps the accuser was motivated by jealously, anger, or revenge. Maybe the accuser planted the firearm in a location to make it appear you were in unlawful possession of a firearm.

Contact Our Law Office for a Case Review

If you have been accused or charged with felon in possession of a firearm in violation of California Penal Code 29800, call our criminal defense lawyers to review the details and options on the case.

We need to closely review the circumstances of the case to start preparing a strategy to challenge the charges. A conviction could be life-altering and we will work to obtain a favorable outcome.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a highly experienced criminal defense law firm with a records of success in all types of cases, including felon with a firearm. Our office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Contact our law firm for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.

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About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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