What Counts as Possession of a Firearm?

What Counts as Possession of a Firearm?

| December 29th 2023
What counts as possession of a firearm

Understanding what legally counts as possessing a firearm is vital. Many people think possession means physically holding a gun, but it's more complex. The law examines several factors to decide if someone possesses a firearm. At Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers, we understand how illegal possession of a gun can impact a convicted felon or someone accused of domestic violence.

Knowing the specifics of gun laws can help address these legal issues. For instance, having a firearm in your car or home might count as possession, even if it's not in your hand. This is essential information for gun owners and anyone who might come into contact with firearms, particularly those with a felony conviction.

Learn more about unlawful possession of a firearm and felony crimes below. Then, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Legal Definition of Firearm Possession

Legally, possessing a firearm means more than just holding it in your hand. The law defines possession as having control over a gun. This can include having a firearm in your personal space, like your car or home. You don't have to own or touch the firearm to be in possession.

The legal definition also considers your ability to access the firearm. For example, having a key to a safe where a gun is stored might count as firearm possession. Understanding these legal definitions is crucial. It helps you stay on the right side of the law.

Types of Firearm Possession: Actual vs. Constructive

Types of firearm possession actual vs. constructive

There are two main types of firearm possession: actual and constructive. The first type, actual possession, is what most people think of – physically holding or carrying a gun. Constructive possession is less obvious. It means you can control a firearm, even if you're not physically keeping it.

For instance, if you have a gun in your glove compartment, that's actual possession. But if a firearm is locked in a safe at home, that's constructive possession. Knowing these differences is critical to understanding your legal responsibilities.

Understanding State and Federal Firearm Laws

Firearm laws vary from state to state, and there are also federal laws to consider. Some states have stricter rules about firearm possession than others. For example, California has specific laws about storing firearms safely. California also bans people with certain criminal convictions from owning a gun. Knowing the state and federal government laws that apply to you is essential.

Federal laws often focus on who can own a firearm. They have rules about background checks and banning certain people with certain convictions, including those convicted of domestic violence, from possessing a gun. Staying informed about these laws is essential for any firearm owner.

Factors That Determine Firearm Possession

Factors that determine firearm possession
  1. The location of the firearm matters. If a gun is in your home, car, or personal space, you might be in possession.
  2. Control over the firearm is critical. Access to or control over where the gun is stored counts as possession.
  3. Ownership is not necessary for possession. Even if the gun isn't yours, having control over it means you possess it.
  4. Knowledge of the firearm's presence is essential. If you know about a weapon in your space, that's considered possession.
  5. Accessibility plays a role. If you can quickly get to the gun, even if it's locked up, that's seen as possession.

The Impact of Prior Convictions on Firearm Possession

If you have a criminal record, possessing a firearm can get complicated. If you have a previous conviction for specific crimes, particularly a felony, you could be barred from legally owning guns. This is true in most states and under federal law. Knowing how your criminal record affects your rights is crucial.

Even a simple mistake can lead to severe charges for those with past convictions. This is particularly true if your conviction involved a controlled substance. Accidentally, having a gun in your space can have significant legal consequences. If you have a prior conviction, you must be extra careful and aware of the laws. Consulting with a legal expert can help you understand your specific situation.

Specific Charges of Illegal Firearm Possession

Specific charges of illegal firearm possession
  • Possession by Prohibited Persons: According to California Penal Code Section 29800, individuals convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, narcotic drug addicts, or those with specific mental illnesses are prohibited from possessing firearms. Violating this can lead to a felony charge, punishable by up to three years in county jail.
  • Carrying a Concealed Firearm: Under California Penal Code Section 25400, carrying a concealed firearm without a license is illegal. If convicted, this can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances, with potential penalties including up to three years in county jail.
  • Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public: As per California Penal Code Section 25850, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place or a vehicle is prohibited without a license. This offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, with penalties including imprisonment in county jail for up to three years.
  • Possession of an Assault Weapon: Under California Penal Code Section 30605, it is illegal to possess an assault weapon. Violating this law can result in a felony charge, with penalties including imprisonment for up to three years.
  • Possession of a Firearm in School Zones: California Penal Code Section 626.9 prohibits the possession of firearms in school zones. Violating this statute can result in felony charges, especially if the gun is loaded, with penalties that include imprisonment and substantial fines.

Defending Against Firearm Possession Charges

Mistake of Fact

Sometimes, people face firearm possession charges because of a misunderstanding. Maybe you didn't know there was a gun in your car or home. This is what lawyers call a "mistake of fact." Proving you didn't know about the gun can be a defense in court. This could create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.

Proving a mistake of fact requires evidence. You should show that you had no reason to know about the gun. This can be tricky, but it is possible with legal help. It's one way to defend against possession charges.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Another defense is challenging how the police found the gun. The law has strict rules about searches and seizures. If the police didn't follow these rules, the evidence might not be usable in court. This could mean the charges against you get dropped.

Challenging a search takes understanding complex legal rules. It often involves reviewing police reports and other evidence. A skilled lawyer can help determine if this defense applies to your case.

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

Lack of knowledge or intent can be a defense in firearm possession cases. Maybe the gun was hidden in a place you didn't know about. Or perhaps someone else put it there without your knowledge. Proving you didn't know about the gun can be crucial to your defense.

This defense requires showing you had no reason to know about the firearm. This might involve witness statements or other evidence. A good lawyer can help you build this defense.

Going Through the Legal Process in Firearm Possession Cases

Facing firearm possession charges can be stressful and confusing. The legal process involves many steps, from arrest to court hearings. Each stage has its own rules and challenges. Having a clear understanding of the process helps you know what to expect.

A skilled and experienced lawyer can walk you through each step. They can explain what's happening and what your options are. That is where we can help you.

Rely on Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers for Your Defense When Facing Firearm Possession Charges

When dealing with firearm possession charges, Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers is your reliable partner for legal defense. Our experienced attorneys specialize in navigating the complexities of firearm law. We understand the severe nature of these charges and are dedicated to protecting your rights. With our firm, you gain a strong advocate who will tirelessly challenge the accusations against you.

Experience and Expertise

Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers has years of experience in firearm possession cases. Our lawyers understand the complexities of these cases. We know how to navigate the legal system to defend our clients effectively. Our expertise can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

We stay up-to-date on legal strategies and how they apply to recent laws. This means we can offer you the best possible defense. We aim to protect your rights and help you through this challenging time.

Vigorous Defense of Your Rights

At Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers, we work hard to defend your rights. We know how much is at stake in firearm possession cases. We'll explore every possible defense and fight for the best outcome. We're committed to providing aggressive, effective legal representation.

Our team works closely with each client. We listen to your story and build a defense that fits your situation. We're here to support you every step of the way.

Dismissals, Possible Pleas, and Favorable Sentencing Agreements

Our goal at Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers is always to secure the best possible outcome for our clients facing firearm possession charges. This might mean working towards getting the charges dismissed, negotiating a plea deal that limits the impact on your life, or achieving a favorable sentencing agreement. We approach each case strategically, analyzing the specifics to find the best legal route. Our team works tirelessly, exploring every legal avenue to achieve a positive outcome for you.

We understand the significant impact these cases can have on your life, including potential effects on your career, reputation, and personal freedom. We aim to minimize the disruption and stress such charges can cause. Whether it's through skillful negotiation with prosecutors or presenting a solid defense in court, we're dedicated to your case. At Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers, we strive to defend you legally and preserve your future and peace of mind.

Contact Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help With Illegal Firearm Possession Charges

Contact Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers for help with illegal firearm possession charges

If you're facing criminal charges for firearm possession, don't wait to get help. Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers is here to support you. We have the experience and expertise to defend you effectively. Contact us as soon as possible to start building your defense.

We'll work with you to understand your situation and explore all your options. Our team is committed to providing the best possible legal representation. We're here to protect your rights and help you through this challenging time. Call us today to schedule your consultation.

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