On Saturday, November 14th, deputies from the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station were patrolling near Newhall Ranch Road and the 5 freeway when they spotted a speeding motorcyclist with a broken tail light. A stop was conducted and, after a further search of the driver’s belongings, the deputies discovered an unregistered AR-15 rifle with an illegal barrel, as well as narcotics. The suspect was a previously convicted felon with multiple warrants out for his arrest.

He was taken to the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station to undergo booking and processing. According to reports, he is being charged with felon in possession of a firearm, and felon in possession of ammunition in addition to several other charges.

Felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition is covered under California Penal Code 29800 PC and makes it illegal for convicted felons or people with outstanding felony warrants to own, purchase, or possess a firearm or ammunition in California. Charges under PC 29800 are always a felony and come with the possible penalties of up to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. In some cases, a judge will sentence the defendant to formal probation in lieu of jail time.

Generally, in order to be convicted of the crime, the prosecuting attorney will need to prove that you owned, received, or possessed a firearm, knew you were in possession of it, and you have a prior felony (or some misdemeanors) conviction that prohibits you from lawfully owning a gun.

Interestingly, there are a few scenarios where a felon may not be charged with a crime if they are in possession of a firearm.

  • Lack of Knowledge – if the defendant can prove that they didn’t know the weapon or ammunition was there, they can sometimes avoid charges.
  • Momentary Possession – if the defendant can prove they only had the weapon in their possession for a momentary period, while it was being disposed of or destroyed, and the defendant didn’t try to stop law enforcement from taking it.
  • The Possession was Justifiable – If the defendant found the weapon or took it from someone who was committing a crime against them, and notified law enforcement that they were bringing it in, they can also usually avoid charges.

Of course, the best way to get information about crimes and charges is to hire an attorney.