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Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in California

Under California Penal Code Sections 29800, 29805, and 29810, certain people are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. For example, under PC 29800 people who have been convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors – PC 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246.3, 273.5, 273.6, 417, 422, and 646.9 – and some addicted to narcotics are prohibited.

The consequences of a conviction can be very severe and will result in a felony or misdemeanor conviction. A felony conviction could lead to prison, and a misdemeanor conviction could lead to a year in county jail.

For someone to be found guilty of PC 29800, the district attorney must prove the following:

  1. The person owned/purchased/received/possessed a firearm;
  2. The person knew that he or she owned/purchased/received/possessed a firearm; and
  3. The person had been previously convicted of felony, two offenses of brandishing a firearm, or a misdemeanor offense under PC 29805 or PC 23515.


Momentary Possession: if someone possessed the firearm for a brief period of time to abandon, destroy, or dispose of it, and did not try to prevent law enforcement from seizing the firearm, momentary possession may be a defense.

Justifiable Possession: the person may be justified in possessing the firearm, if, for example, they took the firearm from someone committing a crime, or they were transporting it to a law enforcement agency to be turned in.

Fourth Amendment Violation: if the firearm was seized without a warrant or without an exception to the warrant requirement, the case may be dismissed. The government needs a warrant supported by probable cause, issued by a neutral and detached judge, and describing the place to be searched and items to be seized to justify a search and seizure. If there is no warrant or exception to obtaining a warrant, the government may not be able to prosecute the case, because the firearm was taken in violation of your constitutional rights.

If you or someone you know are under investigation, or have been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, contact Kern Law, APC today. We provide a free, confidential consultation.