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Name: People v. Lewis
Case #: C055322
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/30/2008

A felony conviction that has been reduced to a misdemeanor prior to the instant offense of possessing a firearm does not constitute the required predicate felony conviction for Penal Code section 12021, subdivision (a)(1) (prohibited firearm possession by convicted felon). In 2003, appellant was convicted of unlawful use of a vehicle in Oregon, a class 3 felony. Following appellant’s successful completion of probation in 2005, the conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor. On the first day of hunting season in 2006, appellant was stopped by a game warden in Siskiyou County, California, and found to be in possession of a loaded rifle. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, with his status as a felon based on the Oregon conviction. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the charged offense, observing that when appellant was arrested for the instant offense, he no longer had a felony conviction in Oregon. The appellate court rejected the People’s argument that since the misdemeanor still qualified as a prior felony conviction under Oregon law for the purpose of Oregon’s felon-in-possession statute, it should do so in California. Under the full faith and credit clause of the United States constitution, as applied to this situation, California is not governed by Oregon law.