Houman Fakhimi

California Gun Arrests Imminent With Governor's Signature

Beginning soon, law enforcement agents will be flooding neighborhoods across the state in an effort to seize some 40,000 assault rifles and handguns possessed by those who are legally forbidden from owning them.

Our Corona criminal defense lawyers know that this will include not only individuals who are convicted felons, but also those who have been deemed mentally ill or addicted to alcohol or drugs or who have been barred from gun ownership through a domestic violence injunction or some similar order.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed off on the $24 million enforcement effort that is intended to sweep clean the backlog of some 20,000 instances of people who are known to be illegally in possession of firearms.

As part of this effort, we expect that a number of those who are targeted by officials will also be arrested, particularly those who are convicted felons.

California Penal code 12021 PC is the statute that prohibits convicted felons from purchasing, receiving, owning or even simply possessing a firearm. The prohibition extends to people convicted of a variety of charges, and it even applies in some cases to those convicted of certain misdemeanors.

It does not matter whether the felony conviction occurred here in California or elsewhere in the country.

A firearm is considered to be any device that may be used as a weapon, from which a projectile is expelled through a barrel by the force of an explosion or other combustion. So obviously, we would consider assault weapons to be included, and also revolvers, pistols, shotguns, rifles, etc.

Pellet guns and BB guns wouldn't count, though it would be generally unwise for a convicted felon to carry one of these anyway, as they could initially be mistaken for a real firearm, particularly if you are stopped by police even for a seemingly minor offense.

Certain misdemeanor offenses that would push you into this category would be convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a weapon, certain types of sex crimes, criminal threats, stalking, and certain domestic violence offenses.

In most cases, violation of Penal Code 12021 is a felony, punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in state prison. You could also face a maximum $10,000 fine, not to mention you would be required to surrender your weapon and if you are an illegal immigrant, you could face deportation if convicted.

This legislation is one of more than a dozen that was introduced in California in the wake of the December mass shooting of 20 children and six adults in a Connecticut elementary school.

California is unique in this country in that it is the only state that has a cross-reference database of gun owners to those who are prohibited from owning a gun.

However, the state had been falling behind on the database's upkeep, due to funding restrictions. The list reportedly grows by up to 20 names each day.

The $24 million is going to allow the state's top law enforcement agency to bring on three dozen additional staffers, and the agents are expected to actually begin enforcement actions by mid-summer.

The money was generated from a surplus of fees that are required for background checks paid for by those who are buying guns in California.

The effort will span at least three years, and will focus primarily on Riverside, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Opponents, namely the National Rifle Association, say that while the program is good in theory, it should be subsidized through the state's general funds. This was the reason a number of Republican legislators voted against SB 140, but the measure did gain bipartisan support, which is how it ultimately passed.

Of those who are on the prohibition list:

  • About 30 percent were disqualified due to a felony conviction or a violent misdemeanor;
  • Another 30 percent have been disqualified due to mental illness, including a number of court rulings finding that the individual is a danger;
  • Roughly 20 percent stem from a domestic violence retraining order;
  • Another approximately 20 percent are wanted for violent crimes.

In the last two years, the state's current group of special agents has seized about 4,000 weapons from about 4,000 people. About 300 of those were assault rifles.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Santa Ana.

Additional Resources

Jerry Brown Oks funds to seize guns held illegally, May 1, 2013, By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times.