Common Legal Defenses for Felons Accused of Possessing a Firearm

In California, the penalties for violating the state’s felon with a firearm law are harsh. A person convicted of illegal possession of a firearm under PC 29800 can face:

  • A maximum sentence of three years in county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Both a jail sentence and fine

Judges can also decide to award felony (or formal) probation instead of jail time in these types of cases. Below, we discuss three common legal defenses people use if they are accused of violating California’s felon with a firearm law

Momentary Possession Defense

With this defense strategy, the defendant admits they had a gun but specifies that the weapon was only in their possession for a moment so they could get rid of it. This defense requires the following to work:

  • Proof that the defendant possessed the gun for a momentary or a transitory period
  • Proof that the defendant possessed the gun for the purpose of disposing of it
  • Proof that the defendant didn’t intend to prevent law enforcement officials from obtaining the gun

Justifiable Possession Defense

Using a justifiable possession defense strategy requires the defendant to admit they had a firearm. However, the defendant claims they had the gun for a justifiable reason. In general, defendants argue they took the gun from someone who was committing a crime. A justifiable possession defense strategy needs to prove the following:

  • Proof that the defendant took the firearm from a person committing a crime against them
  • Proof that the defendant possessed the gun for an amount of time that was no longer than necessary to deliver it to law enforcement
  • Proof that the defendant gave prior notice to law enforcement that they would be delivering the gun.

Illegal Search & Seizure Defense

In some cases, the felon is accused of possessing a gun after authorities find a weapon via property seizure. However, police can only search a person or seize property if they first obtain a lawful search warrant. If there is no warrant, the search must fall under one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. If police obtained a firearm from an unlawful search or seizure, the defense can use it as a crucial piece of evidence to bring a motion to suppress evidence, which would most likely lead to the case being dismissed.

Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP in Los Angeles takes on all felon in possession of firearm cases. Call our law firm today at (800) 462-7160 or request your consultation online.