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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

Can a DWI Hurt Your Gun Rights in California? | Gun Ownership

While the Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects everyone's right to bear arms, state and federal laws may prevent some people from buying firearms by placing certain restrictions. These may include the types of guns one can own and where they can carry weapons.

The government may have even more control over someone's gun rights if they're convicted of felony or misdemeanor offenses. This may raise the question of whether a DWI or DUI offense may have an impact on one's gun ownership rights.

Goss Law and its experienced Sacramento gun crime attorneys have extensive experience protecting defendants and their rights in Sacramento, California. They can help the accused by defending against the possible consequences of a conviction.

When Does the California Law Restrict Gun Ownership?

When Does the California Law Restrict Gun Ownership?

Under California law, certain people cannot own guns if they're charged with a felony offense. Those convicted of a felony may never be able to possess or buy a gun in the state. Even if the defendant has a proper license for their firearm, they will have to turn over the weapon when convicted.

While a felony offense strips defendants of their rights to own guns in the state of California, certain misdemeanor offenses can also limit one's right to possess, buy, or own a firearm.

The California law prevents those facing a misdemeanor charge for domestic violence and people with a domestic restraining order from owning guns. It also restricts gun ownership for all those facing prosecution in court for crimes that are punishable by a prison sentence of at least a year. Goss Law

Besides people facing felony and misdemeanor convictions, California gun laws also prevent those suffering from substance abuse or mental illness or those dishonorably discharged from the military from owning weapons.

Can a DWI Hurt Your Gun Rights in California?

It's important to understand that while all felony charges can result in the limitation of one's gun ownership rights, not all DUI convictions can hurt a person's right to own, possess, or buy firearms.

A DUI can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts surrounding the criminal case. Those who face a misdemeanor DUI conviction for the first time may not have to worry about losing their gun ownership rights.

However, those who face a felony DUI conviction in California may not be able to own, possess, or buy a firearm. Certain circumstances can lead to a felony DUI, and these are as follows:

Prior Felony DUI Charges

Criminal defendants with a prior felony DUI offense may face serious trouble with the law. The court might strip them of their gun ownership rights depending on the number of violations in the past. Goss Law

is also able to answer questions such as Is concealed carry without a permit legal in California?

In most cases, prosecutions fight for a felony DUI conviction in the following circumstances:

  • The DUI results in an injury, great bodily harm, or a death;

  • The defendant had three prior DUI convictions on their record; and

  • The defendant had prior felony DUI convictions (one or more).

A Fourth DUI Conviction

In California, a person with a fourth DUI conviction will automatically be convicted of a felony offense. 

Since felony DUIs fall under California's Firearms Prohibiting Categories, it may prevent criminal defendants from owning, possessing, or buying firearms.

A DUI Conviction with Other Qualifying Crimes

A California DUI alongside a conviction for other qualifying crimes, such as domestic violence, drug possession, or child endangerment, could be a cause for aggravating factors. 

In such situations, the prosecution will most likely fight for sentence enhancement, causing the defendant to lose their right to own, possess, or buy firearms.

How Long Is the Gun Ban for Felony DUI Convictions?

The length of time of the gun ban depends on the facts surrounding the criminal case and other circumstances. It may vary depending on a misdemeanor or a felony conviction.

In case of a felony conviction, the gun ban could last a lifetime. On the other hand, an accused facing a misdemeanor charge will typically lose their right to own, possess, or buy firearms for at least 10 years.

However, some misdemeanor charges could result in a lifetime ban as well. Under federal law, criminal defendants can lose their right to own firearms if they face a weapon-related or domestic violence misdemeanor conviction.

Some crimes in California are wobbler offenses. The court may charge these offenses as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts surrounding the case. 

In case of a wobbler crime that receives a misdemeanor charge, the ban could last at least 10 years. On the other hand, a felony conviction for a wobbler crime could result in a lifetime gun ownership ban.

Can Californian Defendants Get Their Gun Ownership Rights Back?

Under the US Constitution, the federal law is "the supreme law of the land," and it can take precedence over conflicting state laws. Due to this, federal regulations prevent people from owning, buying, or possessing firearms in the following situations:

  • The defendant faces a conviction for a domestic violence crime;

  • The defendant faces a weapons-related conviction;

  • The defendant is mentally unfit; and

  • The defendant is a victim of substance abuse.

If the abovementioned situations do not apply to a criminal defendant in California, there may be two ways they can have their gun ownership rights reinstated. These are as follows:

Obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation

Criminal offenders can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR), which is an official document that endorses good behavior. 

While a COR does not directly reinstate a person's right to own guns, it does create an opportunity for them to apply for a governor's pardon.

A governor pardon can have the conviction expunged, and the criminal record may no longer be available to the public or law enforcement agencies. When that happens, it can reinstate the ex-offender's gun ownership rights.

Petitioning the Court

In wobbler cases, the criminal defendants can petition the court to have the sentence or charges reduced. The following are the types of offenders who may be eligible for petitioning:

  • An offender that is currently serving their probation period in county jail;

  • A person convicted of a felony who finishes serving their probation period in county jail; and

  • A criminal defendant who is sentenced for a felony conviction.

It's important to note that the gun ban is subject to federal and state laws. The California court cannot overturn the ban if a criminal defendant's conviction occurred in federal court.

Goss Law Can Help Reinstate a Defendant's Gun Rights in California!

Goss Law Can Help Reinstate a Defendant's Gun Rights in California!

Those accused of a DUI crime and facing a gun ban in Sacramento, California, should call to schedule a free consultation with an experienced DUI attorney at Goss Law. They can help protect their rights and build a strong defense to avoid a sentence or have it reduced.


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