| Read Time: 4 minutes

If you are a gun owner in California and you are facing domestic violence (DV) charges or convictions, you may be wondering, “Can I own a gun after a domestic violence charge?” This is a valid and vital question, as the laws regarding firearm ownership and domestic violence are complex and often confusing.

Different rules and regulations at both the federal and state levels affect your gun rights, depending on your situation. This blog post aims to clarify the complicated legal landscape surrounding gun ownership and domestic violence charges in California.

For personalized guidance and expert legal advice tailored to your situation, don’t hesitate to consult with a qualified San Diego domestic violence attorney. Your future and rights are at stake, and the right legal assistance can make all the difference.

Take action today to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

California’s Domestic Violence and Firearms Laws

California is one of the states that takes a strong stance against domestic violence, and this is reflected in its firearm laws. Allegations of domestic violence can have a significant impact on your gun rights, regardless of whether you are charged or convicted.

Charge of Domestic Violence Without Conviction

Even if you have not been convicted of a DV offense, you may still face firearm restrictions as soon as you are charged. This is because California judges often issue criminal protective restraining orders at the beginning of a DV case, requiring you to surrender any firearms you own or possess.

This illustrates how domestic violence charges can impact your gun rights, even without a conviction, Both federal and state laws forbid you from having a gun or ammunition if you are under any domestic violence-related restraining order, even temporary ones that last until your hearing.

Domestic Violence Conviction

A conviction for a DV offense in California will significantly impact your firearm rights, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony conviction. Both federal and state laws impose strict limitations on firearm possession for individuals convicted of misdemeanor DV, banning them from owning guns.

California bans you from owning firearms for ten years if you are convicted of specific misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. If you have not committed any other crimes in the ten years after your conviction, you may be able to regain your gun rights under California law.

The penalties are more severe if you are convicted of a felony domestic violence offense, especially if it resulted in injury. Depending on your felony offense you may be prohibited from possessing firearms for life, effectively losing your Second Amendment rights forever.

Federal Firearm Laws: A National Commitment to Safety

In addition to California laws, federal laws affect your firearm rights if you are involved in a DV case. Specifically, 18 United States Code § 922(g)(8) prohibits you from possessing firearms if you are subject to specific DV-related restraining orders. This shows the national dedication to safeguarding individuals from domestic violence risks and the gravity of firearm restrictions in these situations.

Federal law imposes a lifelong prohibition on owning firearms after a domestic violence conviction, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. This means that even if you can restore your rights under California law, you will still be barred from owning guns under federal law. The only way to lift this federal ban is to obtain a presidential pardon.

How Long After A Domestic Violence Charge Can I Own A Gun?

As you can see, restoring your firearm rights after a domestic violence conviction in California is not an easy task.

While misdemeanor convictions may allow you to regain your rights after ten years under state law, felony convictions will make it almost impossible for you to own guns again. There are only two ways to restore your firearm rights after a felony DV conviction in California:

  • Governor’s Pardon. This form of clemency can fully restore your firearm rights lost due to a conviction. However, this is rare and requires you to meet certain criteria and go through a lengthy and complex application process.
  • Felony Reduction. This legal procedure can reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor if your offense is a “wobbler”, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. While felony reduction may alleviate some firearm restrictions, it does not eliminate the federal lifetime ban.

Restoring your gun rights in California is a complex process requiring a thorough understanding of state and federal laws.

Consulting with a qualified attorney experienced in domestic violence cases is crucial to navigating this legal landscape effectively. They can provide expert advice, analyze your specific situation, and help you explore potential options to protect your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Constitutes Firearm Possession in California?

In California, possession extends beyond physically holding a firearm. It includes having control or dominion over it, even if it is stored, unloaded, or disassembled. Possession can also include constructive possession, where the firearm is within your reach or control.

How Long After Being Served Do I have To Relinguish my Guns?

When served with a domestic violence protective order in California, you must immediately surrender your firearms and ammunition upon request of any law-enforcement officer or within 24 hours if there is no request.

Will a Dismissal Under Penal Code Section 1203.4 Restore Gun Rights After a DV Conviction?

No, a dismissal under Penal Code section 1203.4 only removes a record from public visibility but does not erase it for legal purposes, such as restoring gun rights.

Can I Be Denied Ownership Of A Firearm Due To A Domestic Violence Charge, Even If I Was acquitted?

Yes, both state and federal law can restrict firearm ownership for individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders, even temporary ones. This means you may have to surrender your firearms while the case is ongoing.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges as a Gun Owner?

If you need help navigating domestic violence charges and restoring firearm rights in California, expert legal advice is essential. 

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, is a nationally recognized criminal defense firm with years of experience successfully handling California domestic violence cases.

Our track record includes numerous successful outcomes and satisfied clients. We understand the complexities of this sensitive legal area and are committed to helping you navigate the legal landscape and achieve the best possible outcome. 

Don’t settle for less. Contact us today and get the legal support you deserve.

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.