Weapons Charges

Illegal Possession, Sale or Manufacture of a Firearm

California has numerous intricate laws regarding firearms. There are laws that govern the possession of firearms and there are laws that govern the use of firearms.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon

California Penal Code Section 25400 (CCW) makes it a criminal offense to carry a concealed weapon either in your car or on your person. California allows people with licenses to carry a concealed weapon, and given the complexity of the process of obtaining a permit, you can be certain that if you successfully completed this process you have a legal defense should you be charged with PC 25400.

Possession of a Gun Without a Permit

California Penal Code Sections 26150 and 26155 authorize the licensing of a concealed weapon to those of good moral character, who have good cause for the issuance of the license, who have completed a course of training and who either reside or work in the licensing city.

Gun possession charges: California Penal Code Section 31615 makes it a crime to purchase, receive or to sell and deliver a gun to a person who does not possess a valid gun safety certificate. The purpose of this is to deter the illegal sale and trade of guns on the black market. You can’t receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon if you do not possess a valid gun safety certificate.

Possessing an Assault Weapon

California Penal Code Section 30600 makes it a crime to own an assault weapon. If charged with owning an assault weapon, you could be imprisoned for up to one year. If you lend or provide a minor with an assault weapon, you will receive a one-year enhancement on your sentence.

Possession of Firearms by Felon or Other Prohibited Person

California Penal Code Section 29800 forbids any person convicted of a felony from possessing a firearm. If caught, you can face another felony charge for possessing the gun. Additionally, the Penal Code does not allow those with mental illness or drug addiction to own a gun. Certain past criminal convictions, such as brandishing a gun or shooting into a dwelling, can also exclude you from owning a gun. Finally, minors are not allowed to own guns.

California Penal Code Section 417(a) makes it a crime to brandish a gun regardless of your intention to use it. If you intend to threaten or scare someone, or you appear angry or rude while holding a gun, you can be charged with PC 417(a). If you exposed a gun in public, you can be charged with a felony and face a fine of $1000 in addition to jail time. If you did so privately, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, but you will still go to jail. This particular charge has collateral consequences. If you are found guilty of California Penal Code 417(a), you can not get a permit for a gun, thus, any future possession of a gun will be illegal in the state of California.

California Penal Code Section 25850 addresses the possession of a loaded weapon in public places. There are specific laws for the possession and use of guns in and near schools, government buildings, and on public transportation. If you are caught breaking these rules, the punishments are more severe than wielding a gun in a different place, such as your home or office.

Illegal Possession, Sale or Manufacture of Other Deadly Weapons

California Penal Code Section 30600 makes it a crime for any person to manufacture any assault weapons in California. California Penal Code Section 16590 enumerates other prohibited “weapons” such as a bullet containing an explosive element, a lipstick case knife, or a cane gun. These are all felonies in the state of California.

Jail Time for Weapons Charge

Guns and weapons charges carry a range of penalties and sentences. When considering whether to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor or determining the length or intensity of your sentence, certain criteria will be weighed:

  • The type of firearm that you possessed
  • Whether or not you personally used the firearm
  • Your past criminal and social history
  • The underlying offense (if there was another crime you were using the weapon to facilitate)

Some weapons charges can come with enhancements which may increase your sentence. If you are in a gang, if you used a weapon near a school, or if you provided a weapon to a minor, you can expect at least another year to be added to your jail term. Misdemeanor gun convictions can result in jail at the most, or probation or use of a GPS monitoring device at the least.

California’s Three Strikes Law

Perhaps most significant is the role of a felony gun charge in California’s stringent Three Strikes law. While the Three Strikes law, introduced in 1994 as a deterrent for habitual or recidivist offenders, was recently amended to combat its extraordinarily punitive function, gun felonies can be the exception to the slightly more lenient revision. The big change to the rule addresses your third strike. The law used to say that a felony, regardless of its nature, could trigger a third strike.

Now, the felony has to be serious or violent in order to trigger a third strike. The use of a firearm can itself be considered a violent or serious felony, or, the use of a firearm can enhance the felony charge to one that is considered a strike. If the firearm does not make the underlying felony a violent or serious one, it can still double the sentence of the crime.

The best way to combat a third strike this is a good defense to your current charge. Another way is to appeal to the judge to use his or her discretion to remove one of your prior strikes from your record.

Defense for Guns, Weapons, Firearms Charges

There are a few legal defenses in California to a gun charge. None apply to all charges, but a skilled lawyer can help you develop a defense that will address the charges you incurred.

  • If you have a license to carry a gun legally, you should be able to clear any concealed weapon charges.
  • If you acted in self-defense, you might be able to fight a charge dealing with the discharge of a firearm.
  • If you were illegally searched by a police officer and your constitutional rights were violated, you have a legal defense to a possession charge.

Some of the California Penal Codes require knowledge as an element of the crime. If you didn’t know that you had a gun on you, you could have a legal defense.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

With the sheer volume of gun laws in California, it is important that you hire a lawyer to help you navigate your gun charges. Enhancements and collateral consequences can make a huge impact on your life, and a good attorney can often reduce or eliminate these extra challenges.

For a confidential consultation, call criminal defense lawyer Jerod Gunsberg in Los Angeles at (323) 633-3423 or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Let's talk