Can a Convicted Felon Own Gun Ammunition in California?

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You lose numerous rights when you have a felony conviction on your record.

Some rights, like the right to vote, may be restored to you. (In fact, you cannot vote in California only when you are in prison or on parole. Otherwise, a felony conviction does not make one ineligible to vote.) 

However, the law might not allow your right to possess a firearm and ammunition to be restored.

You face serious consequences if the government alleges you are a felon in possession of ammunition. You could get a lengthy prison sentence and suffer other consequences as well.

The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, understand what you are up against and have the experience you need to fight your charges aggressively.

Contact us today to get started!

What Is the Charge of Felon in Possession of Ammunition in California?

California Penal Code §30305 makes it a crime for a prohibited person to possess ammunition. A prior felony conviction on your record makes you ineligible to possess ammunition.

Various mental health diagnoses can also render you ineligible to possess ammunition. 

Penal Code section 30305 is a wobbler offense. You could face up to one year in the county jail if the court issues misdemeanor charges.

However, you could go to state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years if the District Attorney’s Office charges you with a felony. 

You should be aware that federal law also prohibits felons from possessing ammunition. Your San Diego criminal defense lawyer can explain why you could face federal prosecution. 

What Is Ammunition?

The definition of ammunition under California law is broad. The description includes the projectile and casing as one unit, which people probably think of as a bullet.

The law also includes:

  • Clips,
  • Magazines,
  • Ammunition feeding devices,
  • Speedloaders,
  • Autoloaders, and
  • Projectiles that are capable of discharging from a firearm with deadly consequences.

Blanks are not considered ammunition under the law. The prosecutor has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the objects they claim you possessed meet the definition of ammunition.

What Is Possession?

Possession is a legal term. It means having physical control over an object, like holding a pen when you write. Possession can also be constructive.

Constructive possession means knowing an object’s location while having the intent and ability to exercise dominion and control over it.

You have constructive possession of your car keys if they are in your bedroom when you are in the kitchen, for instance. 

Possession is not the same as ownership. However, like ownership, it is not exclusive and can be joint.

Knowing these definitions might help you understand some of the most successful defenses for these types of cases.

Defenses for Felon in Possession of Ammunition Charges

Every case is unique. So the defense strategy that worked in one case might not work in another because the facts are different.

However, experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyers routinely look for certain legal issues that commonly come up in criminal cases. 

Defense strategies can be implemented either during the pre-trial period or at trial. Pre-trial defenses, such as motions to dismiss or suppress, can win the case without going to trial.

Even if the judge denies your pre-trial motions, you still have a right to go to trial. 

Trial Defenses

You could win a not guilty verdict by successfully arguing at trial that the prosecutor cannot prove the legal requirement of possession.

For example, assume you are riding in the backseat of a car behind the front passenger, and three other people are in the car with you. The police pull the car over and search it.

They find ammunition in the center console between the two front seats of the vehicle.

The prosecutor could bring an unlawful possession of ammunition charge based on a constructive possession theory because you are in the car with the ammo. 

The case against you is weak in this particular example because no evidence shows you: 

  • knew the location of the ammunition, or 
  • had any intent to exercise dominion and control over it. 

The strength of the case might change if the police saw you moving toward the center console or if you owned the car, however. 

You might have other trial defenses as well. You might not be a prohibited person under the law, or you may have had your right to possess ammunition reinstated.

Additionally, the items found might not meet the legal definition of ammunition. 

Your lawyer can help you determine if the exception found in Penal Code section 30305 applies to your case.

The exception allows the victim of a crime to possess ammunition and give it to a law enforcement officer if the crime victim took the ammo from the assailant.

The defendant has the burden to prove the exception applies by a preponderance of the evidence.

Are You Charged with Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon?

As a California criminal defense specialist, Kerry L. Armstrong aggressively fights to protect his client’s rights. You could have more at stake than losing your freedom.

That’s why it is important to call The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, right now at 619-234-2300 or contact us online.

With over 100 jury trials and over 40 years defending people just like you, Kerry and his team are ready to provide you with the service and support you need.

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.

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