Many people who have felony convictions on their record end up back in criminal court when they are caught possessing a firearm. It is a very common crime that carries serious consequences for the person charged. Many times it is also a very misunderstood crime and people are often surprised by the criminal charges that they face for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Often times they may have been convicted of a felony crime many years ago and have rehabilitated their lives when they are charged with this crime because they forgot all about their past problems. Other times a person who lives in a house where a gun is being stored ends up with criminal charges against him or her even though they had no idea that a gun was being stored there. And sometimes people just don’t know that they are not allowed to have a gun and are charged with this crime.
In this blog I will attempt to touch on some of the issues that arise when a person is charged with the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Please note however that every case is unique and that only an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows the facts of your particular situation will be able to help advise you properly.
FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM DEFINED
California Penal Code § 12021.1 makes it a crime for any person who has been convicted of a felony, convicted of certain misdemeanors or a drug addict to own, purchase, receive, possess, or have custody or control of a firearm. It is a felony crime.
Generally speaking anyone who has been convicted of a felony crime in California is barred from possessing a firearm in any manner. Also certain misdemeanor crimes as listed by statute in the California Penal Code will make it a crime for a person to later possess firearms.
When a person is convicted of a crime for which he is barred from possessing a firearm that person must be notified of the restriction by the court at the time that judgment is imposed. The notice must be made in written form and supplied to the person by the Department of Justice. The form must include a manner to facilitate the transfer of firearms to either another person or a police agency. If a person does not receive this written notice it is not a defense to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm.
There are however several defenses that may be brought up depending on the circumstances. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you properly.
WHAT DOES POSSESSION OF A FIREARM MEAN?
The crime of felon in possession of a firearm requires only a general intent to commit the crime of possession. In other words the person must know that the object that he or she is possessing is a firearm. There is no requirement for the prosecution in a criminal action for felon in possession of a firearm to prove that the person knew that possessing a gun was a crime.
There is an exception available which may be used as a defense to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm
If it can be proven that a person possesses a firearm for the following reasons:
- The person found the firearm or took the firearm from another person who was committing a crime against him or her;
- The person possessed the firearm no longer than was necessary to deliver or transport it to a law enforcement agency for disposition according to law;
- If the firearm was transported to a law enforcement agency, it was transported in accordance with the law; and
- If the firearm was transported to a law enforcement agency, the person gave prior notice to the law enforcement agency that he or she was transporting the firearm to the agency.
There may be other defenses that are available for someone who is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. As I stated earlier, every case is unique and only a criminal defense attorney who knows the facts of your particular case can fully advise you of your options.
PUNISHMENT FOR FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
The penal code establishes the following punishments for being a felon in possession of a firearm. If a person has been convicted of a felony crime and is later convicted of the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm they may be sentenced to 16 months or two or three years in state prison.
If a person has been convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes they may be sentenced up to one year in the county jail or $1,000 fine, or both.
The court may grant a person convicted of crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm the probation or suspended sentence. There are limitations to the criminal courts’ ability to do so however if the person has previously been convicted of a violent offense. In that case the criminal court is required to order the person to serve at least six months in a county jail, unless the case is unusual and it is appropriate to suspend the sentence and not order the person to jail. That is why it is crucial to have a criminal defense attorney represent you.
Like every other felony or misdemeanor crime the penal code establishes proscribed punishments for crimes that people are convicted of. These are the guidelines for courts to follow.
Many times however, people can get much lighter sentences and punishments for certain crimes if they negotiate a plea. Other times, they can avoid these penalties altogether by being found not guilty by a jury of their peers.
Either way when a person is charged with the felony crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm, they will do themselves a big favor by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for their rights and for their freedom. FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION CASE EVALUATION ON YOUR CRIMINAL MATTER CALL US TOLL FREE AT 888 335-6008 OR CONTACT US HERE.