The mere possession of an unlawful weapon can lead to a criminal case.

Carrying a concealed or loaded firearm on one’s person or within a vehicle (Penal Code §§ 25400, 25850) can be charged as a felony if the firearm has been reported stolen or if the defendant has a prior felony conviction or any conviction which included a firearms prohibition, or if the defendant is an active participant in a criminal street gang. This charge can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor if the defendant has certain prior misdemeanor convictions or if the firearm is concealed and loaded, or if the defendant is not the registered owner of the firearm.

Some people are not allowed to possess a firearm at all, even if unloaded or not concealed on their person or in a vehicle. If the defendant is prohibited from carrying a firearm because he is a felon or a narcotics addict, he could face a new felony for possessing a firearm (Penal Code § 29800). If the defendant is prohibited from carrying a firearm due to a prior misdemeanor conviction or court order, he could face a misdemeanor charge for possessing a firearm (Penal Code §§ 29805, 29820, 29825). Similarly, the possession of ammunition by a person prohibited from carrying it due to conviction, mental illness, or court order can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor (Penal Code § 30305).

Finally, it may be illegal for any person to carry a loaded firearm with the intent to commit a felony (Penal Code § 25800). This charge can be filed separately as either a felony or misdemeanor. A related charge is the possession of any deadly weapon with the intent to commit assault (Penal Code § 17500), which is a misdemeanor.

Possession of an assault weapon or a Browning Machine Gun rifle is an automatic misdemeanor; possession of multiple such weapons can be filed as a felony as well. If the defendant is accused of manufacturing, distributing, or transporting such weapons, he can face an eight-year maximum for each weapon, as well as a one-year enhancement if any minor was involved in the operation.

It is also illegal to possess short-barreled shotguns (Penal Code § 33215), undetectable firearms (Penal Code § 24610), unrecognizable firearms (Penal Code § 24510), unconventional pistols (Penal Code § 24510), cane guns (Penal Code § 24410), wallet guns (Penal Code § 24710), and zip guns (Penal Code § 33600).

Shooting a firearm, except in sanctioned places like a shooting range, can lead to serious criminal charges. An allegation that the defendant shot at an inhabited house or occupied motor vehicle with malice can be filed as a felony with a seven-year maximum sentence or a misdemeanor with a minimum of six months jail (Penal Code § 246). Shooting at an uninhabited house or unoccupied motor vehicle can also be filed as a felony, or as a misdemeanor (Penal Code § 247(b)). Shooting from a motor vehicle with malice at a person outside the vehicle is a felony carrying a seven-year maximum sentence (Penal Code § 26100). Just shooting from the vehicle or, when driving, permitting a passenger to shoot from the vehicle can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Shooting either a firearm or a bb gun in a grossly negligent manner can also be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor (Penal Code § 246.3).

Brandishing a firearm or deadly weapon or an imitation firearm is a misdemeanor with a 30-day jail minimum (Penal Code § 417, 417.4). Brandishing a firearm in the presence of a police officer can be filed as a felony, or as a misdemeanor with a nine-month jail minimum. Brandishing a firearm in the presence of someone in a vehicle is a straight felony (Penal Code § 417.3). Brandishing firearm or deadly weapon to resist arrest is a felony with a four-year maximum (Penal Code § 417.8).

The possession of explosives or a destructive device can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor (Penal Code § 18710). Possession of a destructive device on a common carrier (Penal Code §18725) or in a public place (Penal Code § 18715) carries a term of up to six years. Possessing a destructive device with the intent to injure another person can carry a seven-year sentence (Penal Code § 18740). The possession of the materials to make a destructive device carries a maximum four-year sentence (Penal Code §12312). Sale or transport of a destructive device carries a sentence of up to four years. The explosion of a destructive device with the intent to kill carries a sentence of life with the possibility of parole (Penal Code § 18745). The explosion of such a device causing injury carries up to a nine-year term (Penal Code §18750), whereas causing great bodily injury or death carries a life term, with no possibility of parole in the event of a death (Penal Code § 18755).

Finally, knives, though ubiquitous in kitchens and many workplaces, can lead to criminal charges. Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor (Penal Code § 21310). It is also illegal to possess a switchblade (Penal Code § 653k), ballistic knife (Penal Code § 21110), belt-buckle knife (Penal Code § 20410), lipstick case knife (Penal Code § 20610), cane sword (Penal Code § 20510), air gauge knife (Penal Code § 20310), or writing pen knife (Penal Code § 20910). Also prohibited are certain miscellaneous weapons, including brass knuckles (Penal Code § 21810), or leaded canes, batons, blackjacks, slungshots, sandclubs, or sandbags (Penal Code § 22210).

If you are facing a weapons offense, call me today for a free confidential consultation.

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