California Firearm Rights Restoration
Restoring Your Firearm Rights in California
Restoring your Second Amendment right to own a firearm can be a difficult, complex process. Many states don’t allow you to restore your firearm rights, or they restore them so infrequently that it doesn’t really matter. However, California law provides two different methods to restore firearm rights.
The preferred method of restoring Second Amendment rights in California is through a felony reduction. A person who was granted probation for a “wobbler” offense – one that could have been charged as a misdemeanor or felony – may often obtain a felony reduction. When you reduce a felony conviction, the case is essentially reopened, the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor, and then it is dismissed. A felony reduction under PC 17(b) restores your firearm rights in most cases.
The second option for relief involves receiving both a Certificate of Rehabilitation and a pardon from the Governor of California. Fortunately, when Certificates of Rehabilitation are granted, pardon applications are automatically created, which have been granted more frequently in recent years. If pardoned based on a Certificate of Rehabilitation, firearm rights are restored unless the offense involved the use of a dangerous weapon.
This Information is for You
Since the majority of people reading this aren’t lawyers, we’ve tried to simplify the legal jargon on our website, so regular people may follow along and get the information needed to understand their rights. However, before we get started, we should be clear that some of this information can get complicated, and, in many cases, it’s best to seek the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
To help you understand your rights, our lawyers have developed a tool that can be helpful in figuring out your options. This tool can’t be perfectly accurate in every situation, but our lawyers have invested substantial time and resources working to make it as accurate as possible.
You can get started by using our Secure Eligibility Test, or you can give us a call at (844) 947-3732 to see if our legal staff is available for a free consultation. Be aware that our staff is often busy with current clients and a high volume of calls and appointments. If you’re serious about getting rid of your record, your best bet is to take our Secure Eligibility Test and then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and options.
Do You Qualify to Reduce a California Felony Conviction?
California law allows you to reduce felony convictions in many situations under PC 17(b), but not every conviction qualifies. There are certain felony offenses that do not currently qualify to be reduced under California law, and you generally can’t have been sentenced to prison. In addition to meeting these requirements, you must have successfully completed probation and paid all fines, restitution, and other financial terms imposed by the court.
General Requirements to Reduce a Felony Conviction in California
The general requirements to reduce a felony conviction in California are explained in detail and defined on our California Felony Reduction page, but the requirements include:
- Successful completion of probation;
- The felony offense was a “wobbler” that could have been charged as a misdemeanor or felony or “realignment” offense listed in PC 1170(h);
- You were not sentenced to prison for the conviction you’re trying to reduce (with some exceptions);
- No current charges or pending criminal proceedings;
- Reducing the felony would be in the “best interests of justice.”
Legal Effects of Felony Reductions
A felony reduction under PC 17(b) will often restore your firearm rights if that conviction is what led to having your firearms taken away, and if there is no other federal or state reason that your firearms have been restricted. Certain misdemeanor offenses may also require a substantial waiting period before restoration, but reducing a felony to a misdemeanor will generally restore your Second Amendment rights.
Not everybody with a California felony conviction can restore their constitutional right to own or possess firearms, but California’s laws are favorable when compared to most other states. It should be noted that you can almost never restore firearm rights based on federal convictions, and it can be very difficult if your Second Amendment rights were taken away due to a domestic violence conviction. For more information about federal firearm rights and domestic violence charges, the Department of Justice has resources you can find over domestic violence convictions.
Can You Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation?
The other method of restoring firearm rights is through receiving a Certificate of Rehabilitation and a granted pardon. This is often a much more difficult process.
There are three ways to be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, each with their own set of requirements, which include:
- You were convicted of a felony after May 13, 1943 and were sentenced to prison.
- You were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex offense specified in PC 290 that was eventually dismissed under PC 1203.4.
- You were convicted of a felony and served a prison sentence for which you were discharged from or released on parole prior to May 13, 1943.
These are the threshold requirements to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, but there are additional requirements, certain ineligible offenses, and time periods of continuous residency that must be satisfied. These conditions affecting eligibility are discussed in more detail on our California Certificate of Rehabilitation page.
Legal Effects of Certificates of Rehabilitation
On its own, a Certificate of Rehabilitation will not restore your firearm rights; however, a Certificate of Rehabilitation automatically creates a pardon application, which is sent to the California Board of Parole Hearings for review. The Board is then required by Assembly Bill 2845 to issue a recommendation to the Governor within one year on whether to issue a pardon.
In recent years, California has issued more pardons than ever, but obtaining a pardon that restores your firearm rights is not a given. Our firm has had pardons granted through Certificates of Rehabilitation in the past, but, more often than not, they are not granted. Regardless, if you’ve served prison time in California, a Governor’s pardon is likely the only way to restore your firearm rights.
Federal Firearm Laws
Even if your felony reduction is granted or you receive a pardon, you must also not be prohibited from firearm ownership under federal law. You will generally not be able to restore your firearm rights if you have been convicted of a federal felony, or any misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offense.
The Gun Control Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), makes it unlawful for certain categories of persons to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition, and includes any person:
- who is a fugitive from justice;
- who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 802);
- who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
- who is an illegal alien;
- who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
- who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner;
- who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
What You Need to Do to Restore Your Firearm Rights
If you are tired of not having your firearm rights, reach out to us by taking our Secure Eligibility Test or by giving us a call at (844) 947-3732. Our law firm has helped thousands of people with criminal records move on in life, leaving many of the negative effects of a criminal record behind. Our experienced attorneys and legal staff are here to help you figure out what criminal record clearing services best fit your needs, and then help you accomplish your goals. Using our secure, confidential Eligibility Test is the best way to get the process started.
We Are Here to Help
Eastman Meyler, PC is here to help you navigate the very specific part of California criminal law, fight to protect your rights, and assist you in moving forward in life without the effects of a California criminal record.
You can trust that you will get exceptional service from our law firm, as we have an A Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and prestigious attorney rating services such as Thompson Reuters and Avvo list our attorneys as Super Lawyers and Superb Attorneys. Our law firm has attorneys licensed to practice law in all Ohio state courts, provides low price guarantees, and is here to fight for you and put your criminal record behind you!