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Weapons Charges in California: What You Need to Know

Weapons Charges in California: What You Need to Know

Weapons Charges in California: What You Need to Know

In California, laws governing weapons are strict. You must understand the allegations and potential consequences if you face weapons charges. Consult a California criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss your arrest and weapons charges in California.

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What Constitutes a Weapon in California?

California law broadly defines a weapon as any instrument capable of inflicting great bodily injury or causing death.

This includes firearms, knives, clubs, and other objects designed or used to cause harm. Even everyday items like baseball bats or screwdrivers can qualify as weapons if used in a threatening or harmful manner.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (PC 29800)

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (PC 29800)

Under California Penal Code 29800, it is a felony crime for anyone convicted of a prior felony offense to possess, receive, purchase, or attempt to purchase any type of firearm. This includes handguns, rifles, shotguns, or ammunition. The law applies regardless of whether the prior felony was violent or non-violent.

For those previously convicted felons found in possession of a firearm, the penalties can be quite severe. A conviction under PC 29800 is a straight felony.

It carries a potential state prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years. The exact length depends on the person's criminal history and whether the firearm was loaded.

Limited exemptions may allow felons to lawfully possess firearms, such as expunging their conviction or receiving a pardon. Those with a felony record are typically subject to strict prohibitions from possessing firearms in most cases.

Even engaging in activities such as purchasing ammunition or residing in the same residence where firearms are present can result in charges.

Considering the severe consequences of a PC 29800 conviction, anyone facing charges must promptly seek the representation of an experienced California criminal defense lawyer.

An attorney can examine all aspects of the case for potential defenses or mitigating factors that can lead to reduced charges or penalties.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon (PC 25400)

Under California Penal Code 25400, carrying a concealed firearm on your person or in a vehicle, whether loaded or unloaded, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) is illegal unless you possess a valid license. The law defines a concealed firearm as substantially or wholly covered and hidden from view.

Violations of PC 25400 can result in charges as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and the defendant's criminal history. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in county jail. Felony offenses may lead to 16 months, two, or three years in state prison.

The concealed weapon laws apply not only to firearms but also to other weapons like knives, clubs, billies, nunchakus, and even everyday objects if individuals carry them in a concealed manner with the intent to use them as weapons. Any concealed knife with a blade over two inches can lead to charges.

There are some limited exceptions, such as for honorably retired peace officers, members of the military, or those with special permits like a CCW license. However, the exceptions entail very specific requirements that individuals must strictly follow.

In addition to criminal penalties, those convicted of carrying a concealed weapon face a 10-year prohibition on owning or possessing any firearms. With such high stakes, it's wise for anyone charged under PC 25400 to immediately consult an experienced California criminal defense lawyer.

An attorney can scrutinize the circumstances and fight to get charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public (PC 25850)

Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public (PC 25850)

California has strict laws under Penal Code 25850 that prohibit carrying a loaded firearm in most public places or inside any vehicle, whether it is concealed or not. Consider live ammunition in the firing chamber or magazine to determine if a firearm is loaded.

The list of prohibited public places where it is illegal to carry a loaded gun includes:

  • Public streets and sidewalks
  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Government buildings
  • Schools and school grounds
  • Bars, restaurants, and establishments that sell alcohol
  • Sports arenas and event venues
  • Any crowded public gathering or event

Essentially, anywhere that is not your private property can be considered a public place under PC 25850. Even having a loaded firearm inside your vehicle on a public street is a violation.

A few limited exceptions and affirmative defenses exist in the law, such as for sworn peace officers, military personnel, licensed hunters, or individuals with valid concealed carry permits. However, the burden is on the defendant to prove they qualified for an exception.

Penalties for violating PC 25850 include criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Misdemeanor convictions may result in up to one year in county jail. Felony offenses can carry sentences of 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison.

Given the severity of the punishments and complexities of California's firearms laws, if you face allegations under PC 25850, it is highly advisable to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can examine all the evidence and circumstances to develop the best legal strategy.

Possession of an Assault Weapon (PC 30605)

California has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to regulations on assault weapons under Penal Code 30605. The state prohibits the manufacturing, sale, possession, distribution, transportation, or importation of any firearms classified as assault weapons.

The legal definition of an assault weapon includes semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns with characteristics like pistol grips, folding or telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, or high-capacity ammunition magazines. The law outlines numerous makes and models on California's banned assault weapons list.

Even legal firearms that are altered or equipped with certain prohibited features can be considered illegally configured assault weapons. The laws are so strict that even temporarily stopping in California while transporting an assault weapon from one state to another can lead to serious charges.

PC 30605 violations can bring harsh penalties. Simple possession of an assault weapon is a wobbler offense. The offense can result in either a felony or a misdemeanor charge, depending on the circumstances and the defendant's criminal history. Felony convictions can result in four, six, or eight years in state prison. Fines of up to $10,000 are also possible.

Given the complexity of assault weapons laws and the potential for severe punishments, having a skilled legal representation from an attorney is essential. A lawyer can scrutinize the case for potential legal defenses and fight for the best possible outcome.

Possession of a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Assault (PC 17500)

Under California Penal Code 17500, it is a felony offense to unlawfully possess any kind of deadly weapon with the specific intent to assault or commit a violent felony against another person. This offense is frequently termed possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault.

The legal definition of a deadly weapon under PC 17500 is broad. It covers any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous and can cause great bodily injury or death when used as a weapon.

This includes obvious items like firearms, knives, brass knuckles, and other weapons specifically designed to cause harm. However, it includes any object wielded as a club or bludgeon, such as baseball bats, metal pipes, or rocks.

To prove charges under this statute, the prosecutor must show two key elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant possessed, owned, or had custody or control over the alleged deadly weapon.
  2. That the defendant's specific intent and purpose for possessing the weapon was to unlawfully assault or commit a violent felony against another person.

The potential penalties for a conviction are severe, including up to 3 years in state prison and substantial fines of up to $10,000. Anyone charged under PC 17500 with such high stakes should immediately retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

An attorney can carefully examine all the circumstances and evidence for potential defenses or mitigating factors that can lead to reduced charges or penalties.

Criminal Storage of a Firearm (PC 25100)

Criminal Storage of a Firearm (PC 25100)

California has strict laws under Penal Code 25100 regarding firearms' safe and legal storage. Gun owners can face criminal charges for negligently storing firearms in a way that allows unauthorized persons, especially minors, to gain access.

Homeowners must properly store firearms in a locked container or secure them with a locking device like a cable lock or trigger lock, as mandated by law. This applies to all firearms, rifles, shotguns, and handguns when not carried or used. Keeping guns out of plain sight or in a closet is not considered properly secured storage.

Violations of criminal storage laws often occur when minors gain access to improperly stored firearms and bring them to school, brandish them, or accidentally discharge them, causing injury or death. But charges can also result if an unauthorized adult accesses a negligently stored firearm.

PC 25100 violations are typical wobbler offenses. The charges can vary between misdemeanors or felonies, contingent upon the case's specific circumstances and the defendant's criminal background. Misdemeanor convictions can result in up to one year in county jail. Felony offenses may bring a sentence ranging from 16 months to 3 years in state prison.

In addition to potential jail or prison time, those convicted also face a 10-year ban on owning or possessing any firearms. Given the severe punishments at stake, anyone charged under these laws should immediately consult an experienced California criminal defense lawyer.

If you face weapons charges, legal defenses may be available to you. Some common defenses include:

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

In certain weapons charges cases, you can argue that you were completely unaware that you possessed what can be considered a weapon under California law.

Perhaps you borrowed a friend's backpack, not knowing they had placed a knife inside. Or you may argue that while you knowingly possessed an object, you lacked any unlawful intent to use it as a weapon. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew about the weapon and intended to possess it illegally.

Self-Defense or Defense of Others

One of the strongest defenses against a weapons charge is that you possessed the item to protect yourself or someone else from an imminent threat of harm or violence.

California law permits the possession of weapons for lawful self-defense when there is a reasonable belief that defensive force is necessary. Your lawyer can present evidence showing you faced a real and immediate danger that justified having the weapon.

Lawful Possession With a Valid Permit

In some situations, you can show that you lawfully possessed the weapon because you obtained the proper permit, license, or legal authorization required under California laws.

For example, you may have a valid concealed carry permit for the firearm. Certain professions also have exemptions that can justify otherwise illegal weapon possession.

Unconstitutional Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If the police obtained the alleged weapon through an illegal search that violated your constitutional rights, an experienced lawyer can argue to suppress that key evidence.

Without the weapon, prosecutors cannot prove the charges against you.

Mistaken Fact or Case of Mistaken Identity

In some weapons cases, you may have a defense if the police simply got the facts wrong about your identity or involvement. Perhaps they mistook you for someone else seen with a weapon.

Maybe they misunderstood the circumstances and context in which you possessed the alleged weapon. Your lawyer can present evidence and witness testimony to show it was a misunderstanding or a case of mistaken identity.

Hire a California Criminal Defense Lawyer

Laywer - Tsion-Chudnovsky
Tsion Chudnovsky, California Criminal Defense Attorney

Weapons charges in California are serious and can have long-lasting consequences. If you face such charges, seeking legal representation from an experienced California criminal defense lawyer is crucial.

A skilled attorney from Chudnovsky Law can protect your rights, evaluate the evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your case. With their experience, you can navigate the legal process effectively and work towards the best possible outcome for your situation.

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