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Weapon & Gun Crime Lawyer in Oakland

Need an Experienced FireA Attorney in the Bay Area?

Developing an understanding of California's gun and weapon laws can help you avoid the sentencing that you could face if convicted of a related crime. If you have been charged with a crime involving weapons or guns, you should take immediate action to speak with our Oakland criminal defense lawyer.

We offer free case evaluations to help our potential clients develop an in-depth understanding of their cases. With years of experience, our lawyer can help you fight your gun or weapon crime to avoid the maximum penalties you could face.

Oakland Gun Laws

Oakland Municipal Code requires the safe storage of firearms in private residences – “no person, except when carried on his or her person, shall keep a firearm in any residence unless the firearm is stored in a locked container.” So you must keep your firearms kept safe in a secure storage.

California Gun Laws

In California, there are three common situations that prohibit possession of a legal firearm: felony convictions, certain misdemeanor convictions, and subjects of restraining orders. At the Castillo Law Office, we have years of experience dealing with gun possession charges in Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, and throughout Alameda, San Francisco, and Contra Costa County, and our criminal defense attorney is familiar with the all the gun laws and all the possible defenses to a gun case.

How Much Time Can You Spend in Jail For a Gun Charge in California?

Gun charges in California can carry jail time depending on several factors, including the specific offense you are charged with and its circumstances. Gun laws in California are some of the strictest in the country, and penalties for weapons charges range from misdemeanors to felonies.

  • If you are found to be illegally possessing a firearm, such as carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, you can spend up to one year in county jail and be fined up to $1,000.
  • The possession of an illegal weapon, such as a machine gun or assault weapon, can lead to felony charges and a three-year prison sentence.
  • The penalties can be more severe if the weapon was used as part of a crime, such as a robbery or an assault. Some crimes can carry life imprisonment without parole, such as murder or other serious felonies committed with a firearm.

In California, the specific penalty for a weapons charge can vary depending on the circumstances of the offense and the history of the defendant. The above penalties are just general guidelines.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Felons are barred from possessing a firearm for their entire life under Penal Code section 29800, subdivision (a)(1). The punishment for a felon in possession of a firearm is a felony, which can be punished by probation or a sentence of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison.

  • There are several defenses to a charge for being a felon in possession of a gun.
  • First, a felony conviction from outside of California can only be considered a felony for this charge if "a like offense under California law can only result in imposition of felony punishment." As such, if the out of state conviction could have been charged as a misdemeanor under California law, it cannot be the basis for a felon in possession conviction.
  • Second, to have a valid felony from a federal case, the person must have been sentenced to 30 days in a federal correctional facility or have been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
  • Third, if the felony is not actually a felony because of an error in the district attorney or California Department of Justice Records – or the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b) – the charge is not valid. The correct status of the case can be discovered through reviewing court paperwork.

Some defenses apply to all cases where a person is not permitted under law to possess a gun under California law. One general defense is that the gun was not in the felon's possession. For example, a roommate's gun stored in a roommate's room, particularly if the felon did not have access to the room, does not satisfy possession. Second, the firearm may not meet the technical requirements of a gun. Third, the conviction underlying the felony offense may have been obtained in violation of the constitution, for example the district attorney withheld evidence, the court did not provide a lawyer, or the plea was involuntary. Finally, the defense of necessity, in some situations, allows felons to use a firearm in self-defense.

Can a Felon Use a Gun in Self-Defense?

In California, a felon could use a gun in self-defense depending on the circumstances. The person would have to believe there was imminent danger of great bodily harm to themselves or another person, the firearm became available without a preconceived plan, the possession only took place long enough for the act of self-defense, and there were no alternative ways to reasonably protect yourself or the other person.

Can I Have a Loaded Magazine in My Car in California?

You are not allowed to have a loaded magazine in your car in California. You will be subject to fines and prison sentences for having a loaded weapon in your vehicle.

Can I Carry a Gun While Hiking in California?

It is illegal to carry a gun while hiking in California. If it is your campsite, you can carry a gun. As a reminder, Penal Code Section 17030 defines “prohibited area” in regards to open carry as “any place where it is unlawful to discharge a weapon.” As federal regulations prohibit discharging a firearm, except in very limited circumstances. ​It is not illegal to use a weapon while taking wildlife. The nature of hunting being what it is, one would need to carry the weapon openly and loaded during the hunt.

Misdemeanor Convictions That Prohibit Possession of Firearms

Many people are unaware that certain misdemeanor convictions bar possession of a firearm. Under state law, misdemeanor convictions for any domestic violence offense, which are primarily Penal Code sections 243 and 273.5, have a mandatory 10-year bar. Battery under Penal Code section 242, criminal threats under Penal Code section 422, and assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code section 245, among others, also have a 10-year bar. The penalty for possession of a firearm is a "wobbler," meaning it can be punished by either a misdemeanor or a felony. (See Penal Code section 29805.) The only way to get around this ban is that under Penal Code section 29855 those convicted prior to 2010 can petitioner the court one time for permission to possess a firearm.

Although domestic violence offenses only result in a 10-year ban in California, it is important to note that federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm for a lifetime. Even those with misdemeanor convictions are at risk of federal prosecution, and will be denied a gun license.

Oakland criminal defense attorney Ernesto Castillo can inform you whether you have been convicted of an offense that prohibits gun ownership, and whether you have any defenses to the charges. Contact our law office for a free consultation.

Subject of Restraining Order

Possessing or attempting to purchase a firearm while subject to a protective order, temporary restraining order, or injunction is either a felony or misdemeanor offense under Penal Code section 29825. Protective orders are issued in almost all domestic violence cases, prohibiting the alleged abuser from contacting the alleged victim. The ban on firearm possession in this section also applies to restraining orders issued by the family court or the civil court. Often the restraining order or protective order form notifies the person that they need to get rid of all their guns.

The most common defense to a charge of possessing a weapon while subject to a restraining order is that the person never had notice of the restraining order. If the restraining order was never served on the person, the person would have no way of knowing that the prohibition applied.

Defense of Gun Charges Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area

With many incidents of gun violence and school shootings in the news, gun laws have become more and more strict every single day. The cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and Richmond can be particularly harsh on guns because of pressure to combat gang violence. Since these laws are so technical, it is very hard for many people to keep up to date. What is more, criminal records can be poorly maintained by the California Department of Justice, which results in false charges.

As shown above, however, there are defenses to these charges. Our criminal defense attorney has years of experience defending clients charged with gun cases in Oakland and the surrounding cities of the Bay Area. If you would like a free consultation to see how we can help, please contact us today.

Contact Our Oakland Criminal Defense Lawyer

At The Castillo Law Office, we understand the fear you must be facing if you have been charged with a criminal offense involving a weapon or gun. Do not try to handle this case on your own. You can obtain the aggressive and experienced legal guidance of our firm to effectively resolve your case.

Contact us today for the defense you need.

Hear it From A Few
Of Our Clients

  • I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.

    “Mr Castillo represented me on a criminal case in which I was falsely accused in 2012. He took over the case from a previous lawyer who was less aggressive and not actively pursing my defense. Mr Castillo is a confident, aggressive and very persistent lawyer. He kept my family and I up to date on the case and also returned our calls on time. Mr Castillo persuaded me not to take any deal and wanted take the case to trial because he was confident that he would win. With the Lord's guidance and Ernie's aggressiveness my case was dismissed. I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.”


  • I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.

    “A few years back, Ernie Castillo represented a family member of mine who was charged with a vehicular offense. Although minor compared to the high profile cases Ernie is accustomed to, Ernie took the case with the utmost professionalism and was able to reduce the charge so that my family member's record was not affected. I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.”


  • I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.

    “Ernie Castillo was highly recommended to us. I researched and interviewed a few attorneys before making a decision of who we were going to select. It's so tough selecting when you're skeptical with the horror stories of attorney's not feeling the passion for their work but the money. After long conversations my husband and I decided to go with Ernie to represent our son in a serious case with multiple charges. We were not disappointed at all. Mr. Castillo expertise exceeded our expectations. His was thorough, he kept us up to date on the case, answered all our questions, returned our calls in a timely manner, he's truly a genuine and sincere person. Most of all his knowledge in handling the case was remarkable. I can't express thanks enough to Ernie for the spectacular job he did defending my son who was facing years in jail. He took a stressful situation and relieved it with a positive outcome. I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.”