This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Can I Own a Firearm in California with an Expunged Felony?

Question from Jorge, Can I Own a Firearm in California with an Expunged Felony?

Answer from AI:

In California, the laws surrounding firearm ownership are stringent, especially for individuals with a criminal record. Understanding your rights regarding firearm ownership after a felony conviction, even one that has been expunged, is crucial. This explanation aims to provide a general overview, but it’s important to consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

Understanding Expungement in California

Expungement in California is a legal process that can provide relief to those convicted of certain crimes, under specific conditions. It’s important to note that an expunged conviction under California law does not necessarily restore all rights, including the right to own or possess firearms.

Firearm Ownership Laws in California

Under California law, individuals convicted of a felony are generally prohibited from owning, possessing, buying, or receiving firearms. This prohibition also applies to certain misdemeanor convictions and other specified offenses. The law is clear: a felony conviction typically results in a lifetime ban on firearm ownership in California, unless specific relief is granted.

Exceptions and Relief from the Firearm Ban

There are a few pathways that might restore firearm rights to someone with a felony conviction, including:

  1. Reduction of the Felony to a Misdemeanor: For certain crimes, it’s possible to petition the court to reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor, which may restore firearm rights if the misdemeanor is not one of the offenses that trigger a firearm ban.
  2. Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon: Obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation and a Governor’s Pardon can restore firearm rights, but this is a complex and often lengthy process.
  3. Federal Relief: In rare cases, individuals may seek relief through federal channels, though this is highly uncommon and difficult to achieve.

Impact of Expungement on Firearm Rights

While expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4 provides significant relief, such as potentially easing employment and housing barriers, it does not automatically restore firearm rights. The expungement process does not remove the federal firearms ban, which applies to most individuals convicted of felonies, regardless of state-level expungement or relief.

Key Considerations

  • State vs. Federal Law: Even if California law provides a path to restore firearm rights, federal law may still prohibit firearm possession. Federal law generally prohibits individuals convicted of felonies from possessing firearms, with few exceptions.
  • Specific Legal Advice: Given the complexity of firearm laws and the serious consequences of violating them, consulting with a legal professional who specializes in criminal law and firearm rights is essential.


If you have an old felony conviction that was expunged in California, it’s critical to understand that this does not automatically restore your right to purchase or own a firearm. The intersection of state and federal laws makes this area particularly complex. Before attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, you should seek personalized legal advice to explore your options and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

For more information on expungement and firearm laws in California, you can visit the California Department of Justice – Bureau of Firearms and the California Courts website.

Remember, this information is intended to provide a general overview and should not be considered legal advice. Legal outcomes can vary greatly based on the specifics of any individual case.

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