Gather every piece of paper concerning the case or event which resulted in the loss of your gun rights. Copies of court documents, and letters or bills from the attorney who previously represented you in court are particularly useful. If you lost your gun rights because you were detained for a mental health evaluation aka a "5150", discharge papers and bills from the hospital or mental health facility will assist an attorney in obtaining your medical records. If an attorney asks you to mail documents and papers for review before a consultation, send copies, not the originals which may be needed in future court proceedings. Prepare yourself to be interviewed by the attorney. Expect to be asked for dates, names (for example, the attorney who represented you in court, the hospital or mental health facility where you held) and locations (for example what county and what courthouse was your case filed in?).
What type of attorney should you consult?
An attorney with experience and success in California court proceedings seeking the restoration of gun rights.
Why do people lose their gun rights in California?
They were convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor crimes, they became subject to a restraining order, or they were detained for a mental health evaluation and determined to be a danger to them self or to others.
Restoring gun rights lost due to a criminal conviction
Many California crimes can be charged either as a felony or as a misdemeanor; this type of offense is often referred to in the California criminal justice system by the slang term "wobbler". Some examples of "wobblers" include possessing or receiving stolen property, insurance fraud, possession of methamphetamine, second degree burglary, and many other common crimes. If you were convicted of a "wobbler" as a felony and the sentencing judge did not impose a state prison sentence (including a state prison sentence that was suspended) but instead granted you probation, later you can return to court to ask that your felony conviction be ordered reduced to a misdemeanor for all purposes; subject to a few exceptions, this type of court order will restore your gun rights (unless there is something else in your background which also resulted in the loss of your gun rights).
Restoring guns rights lost due to restraining orders
If you lost your gun rights because you became subject to a civil harassment or domestic violence restraining order (which can last as long as three to five years, respectively, and then they can be renewed), consider having an attorney file a motion for order early termination of the restraining order against you. These years long restraining orders, which take away your gun rights while the order remains in effect, begin with the issuance of a temporary restraining order which will include notice of a hearing in just a few weeks to determine if a years long restraining order should be issued against you. If you become aware that you are the subject of any restraining order proceedings, you should immediately consult a qualified California attorney for assistance.
Restoring gun rights lost due to mental health detentions
If you were detained against your will for a mental health evaluation which resulted in a determination that you were a danger to yourself or to others, California law strips you of your gun rights for five years. If your initial mental health detention was not involuntarily extended beyond the initial 72 hours, you can petition the Superior Court for an order for early termination of the five year loss of your gun rights, however, the California Welfare & Institutions Code states that you can only petition once, so you should seek a qualified California attorney to represent you.
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