iStock_000008356238_MediumPleading guilty to gun charges in California can have serious, long-term consequences that you might not be aware of. Here is a look at the different consequences of a guilty plea:

Loss of Gun Rights

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor firearm charge, you will be banned from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years. However, for certain offenses (e.g. brandishing a gun), you could face a lifetime ban.

If you are convicted of a felony firearm charge, you are banned for life from owning or possessing a gun in California. Expungement of your firearms conviction is not enough to restore your firearm rights. In order to restore your firearm rights, you must obtain a pardon from the governor by obtaining a California Certificate of Rehabilitation.

If your case was a “wobbler,” i.e. it could have been tried as a misdemeanor or a felony, there is one other way to restore your firearms rights. You can petition the court to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, then file a separate petition to have the conviction expunged.

Three Strikes Law

Pleading GuiltyCalifornia’s Three Strikes Law is notoriously harsh, and it can lead to long prison sentences for a variety of offenders. Any felony charges in which you personally use a firearm can count as a potential strike; plus, if you have a felony conviction on your record and you are subsequently charged with any felony, that’s two strikes (and your prison sentence will be effectively doubled).


If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for a California firearms offense could lead to deportation. However, this is a complicated issue, and it is wise to consult a criminal defense attorney if this situation applies to you.

Felony Consequences

ISTOCK IMAGE ID 1778034Whether it is a firearms offense or not, felony convictions can have serious long-term consequences. Legally, a California employer can decline to hire you based on a prior conviction (as long as there is a legitimate, business-related reason for doing so). Along the same lines, a felony conviction can affect your ability to obtain or keep a California professional or business license; this can affect doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, teachers, social workers, lawyers, and real estate agents or brokers.

With a felony conviction, you are also disqualified from serving on a California jury. The only way to regain these rights is to have your California civil rights restored; this requires applying for (and being granted) a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon or being pardoned by the governor. You are also ineligible to join the Armed Forces unless you receive a waiver from the Secretary of Defense. (Felony convictions can also affect your veterans benefits or military pension if you are a former service member.)