24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

When Does Gun Possession Become a Federal Crime in California?

When Does Gun Possession Become a Federal Crime in California?

Gun laws can be super confusing, am I right? There’s like a million diffrent state and federal laws about who can own guns, what kinds of guns are allowed, how you can carry them, etc. It’s a lot to keep track of! This article will break down when exactly having a gun turns from legal to illegal and becomes a federal crime in California.

Lifetime Bans

Ok, first up – there are certain convictions in California that will ban you from ever legally owning or possessing a gun again. These are considered lifetime bans. According to this site, convictions for the following crimes mean you can never legally own a firearm again:

  • Any felony
  • Misdemeanor domestic violence
  • Being addicted to an illegal drug
  • Being found mentally incompetent
  • Being involuntarily committed to a mental institution
  • Threatening public officials
  • Various juvenile offenses

So if you’ve been convicted of any of those, it’s an automatic lifetime ban on owning firearms in California. No exceptions, end of story.

10-Year Bans

Now if you don’t have one of those lifetime ban convictions, there’s still a bunch of other misdemeanor crimes that will ban you from having a gun for 10 years. These include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Making criminal threats
  • Stalking
  • Various firearm violations

So if you’ve got a conviction for any of those within the last 10 years, you cannot legally possess a gun in California during that time period.

Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person

Ok, now let’s say you don’t have any of those convictions on your record. There’s still other ways having a gun can be illegal in California.

One big one is possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. This is basically someone who isn’t allowed to have guns being caught with one anyway. According to this overview, you can’t possess a gun in California if:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • You renounced your U.S. citizenship
  • You’re a fugitive from justice
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the military
  • You’re in the country illegally
  • You’re subject to a restraining order

Possession of a firearm by any of those prohibited people is a felony offense. And it comes with some pretty serious penalties – up to 10 years in state prison according to California law!

Federal Gun Laws

Now here’s where the federal part comes in. There’s also federal laws about who can and can’t have guns that apply nationwide. So even if you follow all the California state laws, violating a federal law can turn your gun possession into a federal crime.

Some key federal restrictions on firearms according to this overview:

  • Felons cannot possess firearms or ammo that crossed state lines
  • Fugitives from justice cannot possess firearms
  • Controlled substance users and addicts cannot possess firearms
  • People subject to domestic violence restraining orders cannot possess firearms
  • Illegal aliens cannot possess firearms
  • People dishonorably discharged from the military cannot possess firearms

So if you fall into one of those prohibited categories, having a gun is illegal per federal law even if California allows it. And the penalties can be harsh – up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted!

Straw Purchases

Another big federal no-no is straw purchases. This is when you buy a gun legally yourself, but then give or sell it to someone who isn’t allowed to have guns. Very illegal!

According to California’s overview, straw purchases can bring felony convictions and up to 10 years in jail and $2,500 in fines. Yikes!

Bottom Line

Gun laws are super complex, but basically boils down to – if you’re prohibited from having firearms, don’t get caught with one! Lifetime bans, 10 year bans, prohibited persons, straw purchases – there’s a ton of ways having a gun can turn into a state or federal crime with big penalties here in California.

The moral of the story is – if you’re unsure about your specific situation, talk to a lawyer! They can look at your criminal record, review all the state and federal laws, and give you a definitive answer on whether it’s legal for you to purchase or possess firearms. Better safe than sorry!


Schedule Your Consultation Now