Have you been ARRESTED or contacted by the Police, a Detective, FBI, or CPS?
California weapon laws are notoriously strict and regulate the purchase and use of firearms, as well as ammunition. Most individuals (adults) can legally own or possess a firearm in this state if they have no criminal record, or history of psychiatric problems or drug addiction.
However, gun laws are complex, and if you do not properly understand the regulations and restrictions, it is easy to unwittingly break the law and face criminal charges for a firearm offense. Although some weapon offenses are misdemeanors, many are felony crimes.
Brandishing Firearm or Deadly Weapon: Misdemeanor (California Penal Code section 417 (a)(1) & (2));
Brandishing Firearm: Misdemeanor – Public Place (California Penal Code section 417(a)(2)(A)); and
Brandishing Firearm or Deadly Weapon: Felony (California Penal Code section 417(b)).
Common firearm offenses with which you could be charged include the following:
A conviction for a serious firearm offense may involve a lengthy prison sentence and a felony record that will affect your life long after serving any prison term. See, e.g.:
Personal Use of a Dangerous Weapon During the Commission of a Felony (California Penal Code section 12022);
Personal Use of a Firearm During a Felony (California Penal Code section 12022.5); and
Personal Use of a Firearm (California Penal Code section 12022.53(b)).
With increased crime rates, California has imposed strict laws to control firearms and weapons. Standard firearm and weapon offenses in California include:
Carrying a loaded gun in public violates Penal Code § 25850. A public place is defined as many location frequented by people, including streets, parks, and hotels. Under this statute, a firearm is any device intended to be operated as a weapon that can expel a lethal projectile.
When you are spotted with a gun, the officer on scene will obviously scrutinize it to determine whether it is loaded.
P.C. § 25850 defines the following circumstances under which a firearm is considered to be loaded:
See Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions — CALCRIM Number 2530 (“Carrying Loaded Firearm — Pen. Code § 25850(a)”).
Before you are convicted for carrying a loaded firearm, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:
Carrying a loaded firearm is a “Wobbler” (California Penal Code section 17(b)) — an offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of your case.
As a first-time offender, a conviction under P.C. § 25850 will be only a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you have a prior conviction for a firearm or drug-related crime, you risk a felony conviction.
See “Carrying Firearm: Possession of Firearm Prohibited Due to Conviction, Court Order, or Mental Illness — Pen. Code §§ 25400(c)(4), 25850(c)(4)”: CALCRIM Number 2544.
If you face a felony conviction for carrying a loaded firearm, you will face a sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years in state prison.
P.C. § 25400 makes it a crime to carry a concealed firearm in California, even if you have no criminal record (unlike states such as Florida, which have “open carry” and even concealed firearms laws).
The elements that must be proven to obtain a conviction under this statute include:
See “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.
Some individuals are exempt from the laws on carrying a concealed firearm, including:
The prosecution will file misdemeanor charges for having a concealed firearm when there are no aggravating factors. A conviction under this statute will attract a maximum one-year jail sentence. Sometimes, however, the court will sentence you to informal probation instead of a jail sentence for misdemeanor carrying a concealed firearm.
Some factors that the court may consider when sentencing you include your criminal history and any cooperation on your part.
If these aggravating factors are present in your case, you could face a felony conviction if:
See, e.g., Gang Enhancement (California Penal Code 186.22);
A felony conviction for carrying a concealed firearm under P.C. § 29800 is punishable by a prison sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison.
P.C. § 417 defines the crime of brandishing a weapon as the act of using a firearm or other deadly weapon to threaten or assault someone else.
The prosecution proves your guilt under this statute by establishing the following elements:
See “Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another — Non-Homicide”: CALCRIM Number 3470.
In most cases, brandishing a weapon is a misdemeanor. A conviction for violating P.C. § 417 is punishable by a one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. If you face an arrest for brandishing a weapon on school grounds or around a daycare center, you could face felony charges.
Felony P.C. § 417 attracts a prison sentence ranging from sixteen months to two years or three years. Facing an arrest for brandishing a weapon is detrimental to your immigration status. A conviction can result in deportation or being rendered inadmissible.