Under California law, many people are permitted to legally own or possess a firearm. However, even when owning or possessing a gun is lawful, there are certain exceptions and restrictions to these privileges imposed by the state. It’s important to know when and where it is legal to own and carry a gun. If you or someone you know is charged with a gun possession crime in California, it’s important to have the experienced advocacy of a firearm possession lawyer.
At Spolin Law P.C., we can review the details and circumstances of your case in order to construct a tailoring comprehensive defense against the charges you face. To help ensure your rights and future are protected, allow a weapons lawyer from our firm to fight vigorously for the best possible outcome on your behalf.
Call us today at (310) 424-5816 or use our contact form to set up a free case evaluation.
Gun Possession – Who is Allowed?
The firearm laws in California permit most adults to purchase a gun without a license. There are exceptions to this described below. However, if you don’t fall under those exceptions, you may have a legal firearm within your home or place of business that you own. You are also permitted to transport a firearm from one place to another, provided it is kept in a locked container.
It is important to note that the purchase of a handgun requires possession of a valid handgun safety certificate.
Gun Possession – Who is Prohibited?
Persons in California prohibited from obtaining or possessing a firearm include:
- Convicted felons
- Individuals with two convictions or more under Penal Code 417 (law against brandishing a weapon)
- Any person under 18 years of age
- Individuals with certain misdemeanor offenses
- Individuals addicted to narcotics
- Individuals suffering from mental illness
It should be noted that under Federal law, other categories of individuals are forbidden to own a gun, including:
- Any person under indictment for a crime that carries a sentence of more than one year in prison
- Any person who has renounced their U.S. citizenship
- Any person dishonorably discharged from the military
- Any fugitive from justice
- Any illegal alien
- Any person subject to a court order for the crime of stalking
All persons prohibited from owning a firearm are also prohibited from owning and having possession of ammunition. Federal and state restrictions on ammunition transfer and possession must be considered.
It is vital to obtain the services of firearm possession attorney if you are facing a charge of illegal gun possession.
Laws Against Possessing or Carrying Firearms
California laws are established that forbid the possession or carrying of firearms based on particular circumstances. The laws cover the possession and carrying of both illegal and legal firearms. A deadly weapons possession lawyer can help you understand your case with respect to the law in detail.
Penal Code 29800 PC – Felon with a Firearm
This California law excludes certain categories of persons from owning or obtaining a gun, including convicted felons and persons convicted of certain misdemeanors. Felons or others falling into relevant categories who own, possess, receive, or purchase a gun can lose their gun rights for at least 10 years, and in some cases for life. Juveniles who fall into these categories may not be permitted to own a gun until the age of 30.
Penal Code 25400 PC – Carrying a Concealed Firearm
It is a crime to carry, with knowledge, a concealed firearm on your person or in vehicle. You may transport a handgun you own or possess provided it is locked in the trunk or a locked container in your vehicle. You may also take the handgun to or from a vehicle for legal purpose provided it is kept within a locked container. This statute does not cover non-concealable shotguns and rifles. They simply must be unloaded during transport.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Carrying a concealed firearm in California, provided no aggravating circumstances apply, is a misdemeanor. The penalties include:
- Maximum one year in county jail
- Maximum $1,000 fine
A violation of PC 25400 is a “straight” felony if:
- You have a previous felony conviction
- You have a previous firearm offense conviction
- You possessed the firearm unlawfully
- The firearm is stolen and you knew, or it was reasonable for you to believe, it was stolen
- You are presently involved in a criminal street gang
- You are prohibited from possessing a firearm under either Penal Code 29800 (Felon with a firearm prohibition) or Penal Code 29900 (Committing, or attempting to commit, a violent offense)
The penalties for this felony include:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail
- Maximum $10,000 fine
California Penal Code 25850 PC – Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public
Under this law it is also a crime to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle, with the exception of in the trunk or a locked container. You must knowingly carry a loaded firearm to be guilty of this offense. If you did not knowingly carry the firearm, a skilled firearm possession lawyer can help formulate a defense that establishes this fact before the court on your behalf.
The misdemeanor and felony penalties for this offense are the same as mentioned above for violating Penal Code 25400. If your firearm is concealed and loaded simultaneously, you may be prosecuted under both statutes. However, if you have a valid firearm carry permit, you are not guilty of these crimes.
Possession of Firearms in Specific Places
Under California law, is unlawful to carry or possess a firearm in certain places. These include:
- School grounds – Penal Code 626.9 PC
- Government buildings – Penal Code 171c PC
- The Governor’s mansion – Penal Code 171d PC
- Airports and passenger vessel terminals – Penal Code 171.5 PC
- Public transit facilities – Penal Code 171.7 PC
Penal Code 30600 PC – Ban on Assault Weapons and Rifles
California imposes penalties for selling, manufacturing, and/or possessing assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles without a valid permit. The state’s Penal Code specifies more than 50 different guns that are categorized as assault weapons. You should have a competent and experienced firearm possession lawyer defending you regardless of the type of weapon you are accused of possessing.
This crime is a wobbler, punishable either as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, you may face a maximum one year in county jail, and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. As a felony, you may face 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.
Possible Legal Defenses to California Firearm Possession Charges
Your dangerous weapons attorney may utilize one or more defenses against your firearm possession charge in California. Some possible defenses include:
- You had no knowledge you were carrying a firearm
- You were legally permitted to carry the firearm
- You carried the firearm for legitimate self defense purposes
- The firearm was obtained through an illegal search
- Police misconduct was involved in your case
Contact an Experienced California Firearm Possession Attorney
If you are facing a charge of illegal firearm possession in California, the potential consequences can be severe. Having strong legal advocacy from an experienced criminal firearm crimes defense attorney is crucial in these circumstances. Count on our team at Spolin Law P.C. to provide you with aggressive representation to mitigate, or eliminate if possible, the penalties associated with your charge.