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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

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    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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What Happens if You Get Caught With a Privately Made Firearm or Ghost Gun? 

Posted in California Law on May 31, 2022

Self-assembled or otherwise privately made firearms or so-called “ghost” guns are not illegal to own in the state of California, provided the owner goes through the process to register the ghost gun with the California Department of Justice (DOJ). Laws requiring these guns to be registered were passed in 2018. Up until that time, guns of this type were technically legal to own, lawyers that specialize in gun crime defense can help navigate these complex  laws. 

picture of a firearm on a table

DOJ Requirements for Self-Assembled Guns

Ghost guns or self-assembled guns in the state of California must be issued a unique serial number or mark of identification by the DOJ, per state law. Applicants for these serial numbers must:

  • Possess a firearms safety certificate
  • Pass a firearms eligibility background screening to verify their eligibility to possess guns under California and federal law
  • Be at least 21 years of age and present proof of identity and age
  • Provide the DOJ with a description of the gun they plan to assemble or manufacture.

Once the applicant receives the DOJ’s serial number, then the applicant must permanently affix or engrave the serial number to the ghost gun within 10 days of assembly or manufacture. The person who applies for the serial number must then supply the DOJ with info about the now-serialized gun, including ownership info. Generally, ghost guns cannot be transferred or sold and are solely intended for personal use.

If a person is found to be in possession of a non-serialized gun, they must apply to the DOJ for serialization or surrender the gun to law enforcement officers. Under the 2018 legislation regarding ghost guns, persons and companies are prohibited from knowingly aiding, abetting, facilitating, or allowing the assembly or manufacture of a firearm by a person who is prohibited from owning or possessing such a weapon. 

The law also strictly prohibits people from assembling weapons that are prohibited in the state, including machine guns, assault rifles, and handguns that have not been tested and certified under the Unsafe Handgun Act. Legislation that further regulates the sale of self-assembled gun frames and receivers—also known as firearms precursor parts—is slated to be implemented across the state beginning with the new fiscal year on July 1, 2022. 

Facing Gun Charges?

In the state of California, all firearms charges are serious, including those involving unregistered or non-serialized guns, since the state takes a hard stance on firearms offenses. You can face hefty fines and even jail time if you are convicted of a gun-related offense. In addition, a gun crime can remain on your record for many years or even life. 

At the Law Offices of Graham Donath, we know just how serious gun crimes are in the state of California. If you are facing a gun charge, even a charge that seems as simple as possessing an unregistered firearm, you need representation by an experienced attorney who understands the complex gun laws in the state. Let our team help you. Request a confidential consultation or give us a call in Riverside at 951-667-5293 or Orange County at 714-758-5293 to discuss your case in greater depth.