Firearms and Domestic Violence Laws in California

There are differences between California’s domestic violence and firearms laws and the federal government’s laws.  In the federal system, generally people who have been convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors are prohibited from acquiring and/or possessing firearms for life.  California, on the other hand, limits the time of acquiring and/or possessing firearms for those convicted of violence-type misdemeanors (e.g., battery, assault, stalking, etc.) for ten years regardless of the offender’s relationship to the victim.

However, in 2018, California passed a lifetime firearms prohibition effective January 1, 2019, “…of a misdemeanor for willfully inflicting corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition against a current or former spouse, cohabitant, or dating partner, or against the mother or father of the offender’s child.”  The legislation was also updated again, effective July 1, 2020.

The law also prevents alleged offenders from acquiring/possessing firearms where a defendant has been charged with – but not yet convicted of – a domestic violence misdemeanor.

Under California Penal Code Section 29825 (a):  “A person who purchases or receives, or attempts to purchase or receive, a firearm knowing that the person is prohibited from doing so in any jurisdiction by a temporary restraining order or injunction issued pursuant to Section 527.6, 527.8, or 527.85 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a protective order as defined in Section 6218 of the Family Code, a protective order issued pursuant to Section 136.2 or 646.91 of this code, a protective order issued pursuant to Section 15657.03 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or by a valid order issued by an out-of-state jurisdiction that is similar or equivalent to a temporary restraining order, injunction, or protective order specified in this subdivision, that includes a prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm, is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.” (Italics added)

California Penal Code Section 29825 (b) states:  A person who owns or possesses a firearm knowing that the person is prohibited from doing so in any jurisdiction by a temporary restraining order or injunction issued pursuant to Section 527.6, 527.8, or 527.85 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a protective order as defined in Section 6218 of the Family Code, a protective order issued pursuant to Section 136.2 or 646.91 of this code, a protective order issued pursuant to Section 15657.03 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or by a valid order issued by an out-of-state jurisdiction that is similar or equivalent to a temporary restraining order, injunction, or protective order specified in this subdivision, that includes a prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm, is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.  (Italics added)

And to make things even more difficult for the misdemeanant, Penal Code Section 29825 (d) states:  The Judicial Council shall provide notice on all protective orders issued within the state that the respondent is prohibited from owning, possessing, purchasing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm while the protective order is in effect. The order shall also state that a firearm owned or possessed by the person shall be relinquished to the local law enforcement agency for that jurisdiction, sold to a licensed firearms dealer, or transferred to a licensed firearms dealer pursuant to Section 29830 for the duration of the period that the protective order is in effect, and that proof of surrender or sale shall be filed within a specified time of receipt of the order. The order shall state the penalties for a violation of the prohibition. The order shall also state on its face the expiration date for relinquishment.  (Italics added)

The effects of a conviction preventing the acquiring, possessing and/or owning a firearm can be far reaching.  With a conviction, a misdemeanant cannot serve in law enforcement where firearms are used, such as police departments and security operations.  They cannot participate in any activity using firearms (such as target shooting, gun shows, retail gun shops, etc.)  And they cannot have firearms as a means of protecting themselves and/or their families.

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