Have you been ARRESTED or contacted by the Police, a Detective, FBI, or CPS?
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to own and bear firearms. However, California law employs strict regulations to govern how firearm owners use and handle them, especially in public places.
Acts such as carrying a concealed firearm in a public area are addressed under California Penal Codesection 25400.
See also Carrying an Exposed and Unloaded Handgun in a Public Place or in a Vehicle (California Penal Codesection 26350); and
Brandishing Firearm: Misdemeanor – Public Place (California Penal Codesection 417(a)(2)(A)).
Laws on carrying concealed firearms aim to ensure public safety without violating the constitutional rights of others. The stakes are high if you face an arrest for carrying a concealed firearm in your person or vehicle.
Although violation of P.C. § 25400 is a misdemeanor, some circumstances could transform your charge into a serious felony. A conviction for carrying a concealed firearm attracts severe legal penalties, including incarceration, fines, and loss of your gun rights.
See also Judicial Council of California’s Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) “Carrying Concealed Firearm on Person” — Pen. Code § 25400(a)(2)”: CALCRIM Number 2520; “Carrying Concealed Firearm within Vehicle — Pen. Code § 25400(a)(1)”: CALCRIM Number 2521; and “Carrying Concealed Firearm: Caused to Be Carried within Vehicle — Pen. Code § 25400(a)(3)”: CALCRIM Number 2522.
Without a legal license, carrying a concealed firearm is a severe offense charged under California Penal Code section 25400.
See Concealed Weapon Permit — a.k.a. Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) License.
Even if you reasonably believe you are in immediate danger, having a gun in public could have serious legal consequences for you. Law enforcement officers can arrest you on suspicion of carrying a concealed firearm if you do any of the following:
See also “Carrying Concealed Firearm: Not Registered Owner and Weapon Loaded — Pen. Code § 25400(c)(6)”: CALCRIM Number 2546.
When establishing your culpability for carrying a concealed weapon, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
The first element of the crime that constitutes a P.C. § 25400 violation is that you were physically in possession of a firearm or had it in your vehicle. A gun is on your person if you are holding it or in a bag that you are holding.
According to P.C. § 25400, a firearm is any device designed to expel ammunition from a barrel. Common types of weapons that are addressed under this statute include:
You cannot be charged with this crime if the weapon is a BB gun that relies on air pressure for firing.
Most gun laws require evidence of your knowledge about the gun’s presence before a conviction. These laws help to avoid wrongful convictions of individuals unaware of that a crime was being committed.
For example, it is relatively easy for another person to hide a gun in your vehicle or bag without your knowledge.
The final element the court needs to show your guilt under this statute is that you actually concealed the weapon. The prosecutor can charge you with carrying a concealed firearm even if the gun was only partially hidden.
Although P.C. § 25400 seeks to punish individuals who have hidden firearms in public places, it does not mean that carrying the weapon in plain view is necessarily legal. Such an act could violate California P.C. § 26350 and therefore entail a criminal charge.
See Carrying an Exposed and Unloaded Handgun in a Public Place or in a Vehicle (California Penal Codesection 26350).
The following individuals are exempt from prosecution under P.C. § 25400:
See, e.g., Carrying Loaded Firearm Exemption for Armored Car Guard (California Penal Code section 26015: California Penal Codesection 26015).
See, e.g., Carrying Loaded Firearm Exemption for Active Military Personnel (California Penal Codesection 26000).
See, e.g., Carrying Loaded Firearm Exemption for Licensed Hunters (California Penal Codesection 26005).
A permanent criminal record accompanies a conviction for a firearm offense. A conviction for a P.C. § 25400 violation will obviously be detrimental to your ability to obtain employment, among other complications.
Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to deal with the consequences of your conviction for the rest of your life. Specifically, if you’ve been convicted of a felony, you may be eligible for a Reduction to a Misdemeanor (California Penal Code section 17(b)).
If the court grants your petition to do so, you can then petition for an Expungement (California Penal Code section 1203.4).
An expungement is a legal proceeding where the court may also allow you to withdraw a guilty plea for your crime in exchange for a not guilty judgment. The process of expunging your criminal record includes filing a specific motion with the court, followed by a hearing. However, before petitioning for this relief, you must successfully complete your probation.
See also Early Termination of Probation (California Penal Code section 1203.3).
The most important advantage offered by this granted motion is that most employers cannot discriminate against you based on an expunged conviction. However, there are limitations. For example, if the court strips you of your gun rights after your conviction for felony P.C. § 25400, expunging the conviction will not retire these rights.
Brandishing Firearm or Deadly Weapon (California Penal Code section 417(a)(1) & (2))
Brandishing a weapon is a criminal offense charged under P.C. § 417, which you violate by engaging in the following acts:
See “Brandishing Firearm or Deadly Weapon: Misdemeanor — Pen. Code § 417(a)(1)&(2)”: CALCRIM Number 983; and
“Brandishing Firearm: Misdemeanor – Public Place — Pen. Code § 417(a)(2)(A)”: CALCRIM Number 984.
If you carry a concealed firearm which is visible to another person, the prosecution can charge you with both brandishing and carrying a concealed firearm.
Violation of P.C. § 417 is a misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of three months to one year. However, if you brandish a gun in certain places, your crime becomes a wobbler, which, again, is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor offense, in this case, is punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence. On the other hand, a felony conviction for brandishing a firearm attracts a prison sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years.
Most residents in California are not allowed to carry a loaded firearm legally. Failure to obey these regulations could result in yout arrest and P.C. § 25850 charges. You can be prosecuted for carrying a loaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle.
Under this statute, a firearm is considered loaded if it contains bullets or explosive shells that can be expended. If a clip containing ammunition or a magazine is attached to the firearm, the prosecution and court will consider it to be loaded.
Some individuals are exempt from prosecution for carrying a loaded firearm, and they include:
Carrying a loaded firearm is a wobbler. When charged as a misdemeanor, the offense attracts a one-year-max jail sentence and a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
If you are a convicted felon or the firearm in question was stolen, you will face felony charges. Felony P.C. § 25850 is punishable by sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months in prison.