California laws allow individuals 21 years or older to own, purchase and possess firearms. At the same time, though, several statutes are very restrictive and limit these rights on those that should keep, sell and supply guns.
It’s critical to be familiar with gun control laws to understand the place and time to own or possess a gun. If you do anything prohibited by these laws, you will end up with criminal charges and prosecution.
Many of these gun offenses in Santa Ana, CA, are filed as felonies whose conviction results in jail incarceration, a criminal record, and the loss of rights to own or possess a firearm. A conviction for a firearm offense, even when it’s a misunderstanding, can result in severe consequences, which is the reason you need an experienced attorney to contest the charges. At Darwish Law, we are here to protect your freedom and rights by examining your gun-related charges.
Common Firearm Offenses in Santa Ana
You could be charged with several gun offenses even when you have the right to own or possess a firearm. This article highlights the common firearm offense you could be charged with and their penalties.
Illegal Gun Ownership
According to California statutes, it’s illegal for individuals aged 21 or older to buy a gun without permission. However, if you are not prohibited from purchasing a firearm, the law allows you to keep one in your residence or commercial establishment if it is locked in a safe place.
The law prohibits particular individuals from having a firearm. These individuals include:
- Felony convicts
- Controlled substance addicts
- Individuals with at least two convictions under PEN 417, which prohibits gun owners from brandishing a weapon.
- Individuals sentenced for misdemeanor crimes like domestic assault or any other domestic violence offense.
- Individuals dealing with mental health conditions
Note that even being found with bullets or cartridges alone when the law prohibits you from possessing a firearm is also a crime with severe consequences.
Carrying a Hidden Weapon Without a License
California PC 26150 and 26155 outlines the permits you need to carry a concealed weapon. The licenses allow you to own any concealable gun, like a revolver or pistol. The local police chief or sheriff is the one that issues these permits to eligible individuals, although they must meet particular requirements. These are:
- You must be an upstanding and ethical civilian with outstanding moral character.
- You have a valid reason for obtaining the license
- You live in Santa Ana
- You have completed the necessary firearm training.
Once you comply with these requirements and a permit is issued, you are free to carry a concealed loaded weapon. However, these permits come with many restrictions that you should obey.
PC 25400 is the statute that outlines carrying a hidden weapon, and it prohibits you from having a hidden gun within your immediate self or vehicle. When proving this crime, the prosecuting attorney must demonstrate that you knew, as a defendant, that the weapon was concealed. Therefore, if you were dropping a friend at the bus stop on your way to the mall and they drop their gun while leaving the vehicle, you won’t face PEN 25400 violation charges if the firearm is found in the car because you were unaware the weapon was concealed.
If you were hiding a weapon without a license and knew it was concealed in the vehicle, you would face misdemeanor charges. The penalty for the offense is no more than twelve months in jail, and court fines not surpassing $1,000.
Alternatively, a concealed carry may be charged as a felony if the following conditions are actual:
- You have a prior felony or firearm sentencing in California
- The gun you had is a proceed of theft, and you were aware or ought to have known it was stolen
- You acquired the gun illegally
- You are forbidden to possess or own a firearm under PEN 29800
- You are not permitted under PC 29900 from owning or holding a weapon due to a violent crime you participated in or tried to commit in the past. These violent offenses include rape, homicide, carjacking, or robbery.
A felony conviction is punishable by up to 36 months in prison and a maximum court fine of $10,000.
As mentioned earlier, the PC 25400 violation can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor, making the offense a wobbler. It is a misdemeanor if the offense is committed against property, an individual, or when you have a criminal record for a drug crime. However, if the gun is loaded or ammunition is in your person, the offense is classified as a wobbler, meaning it is up to the prosecutor to decide if to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Selling Weapons Without a License
California PC 26700 outlines the criteria one must meet to be permitted to deal with firearms. Therefore, you will be violating PC 26500 by leasing, selling, or transferring a firearm without authorization or permit from the relevant government agencies. If found guilty of this offense, you will face at most twelve months in jail or a fine of no more than $1,000.
Possessing or Carrying a Gun as Convicted Felon
Under PC 29800, it’s unlawful for you to be found having a gun when you have a prior felony conviction. The law criminalizes the possession of firearms by felons. You belong to this group of individuals prohibited from carrying a gun if:
- You’ve been prosecuted or have a case in court whose sentencing could result in at least one year of jail incarceration.
- You were degradingly relieved of your duties in the military
- You are an illegal alien or renounced your citizenship
- You are escaping justice, or a court order has been issued against you for stalking
If any of these conditions apply to your case, carrying a firearm can result in criminal charges. A conviction for the offense will see your gun ownership rights suspended for a minimum of ten years. The revocation could even extend for life, meaning you might never possess a firearm for the rest of your life. In addition, when a minor is involved, the law prohibits possessing a weapon until you attain 30.
Possessing a Gun in Public
According to California PC 25850, it’s a crime to possess a loaded gun while in public. This is the same statute that makes it a crime to have a loaded weapon in your vehicle or within your person. It’s worth noting that you won’t violate PEN 25850 where the loaded firearm was in the car truck or sealed container.
Under this statute, a loaded weapon refers to a gun with unexpended cartridges or when the magazine is attached to the firearm or firing chamber. You need to be very careful and retain legal representation in these cases because a prosecutor can convict you for the offense if the loaded weapon is not working. The only element they need to demonstrate is that you were aware the gun was loaded. If you lack this knowledge, then you are innocent.
The offense of carrying a loaded weapon is the same as that of a concealed carry, meaning that if you are found hiding a loaded gun, you will be subject to both PEN 25850 and PEN 25400.
Having a Firearm in Particular Places
Even if you are licensed to own and carry a firearm, you can’t take the weapon to specific places. The statutes that prohibit having a gun in particular areas are:
1. Having a Firearm in School Grounds
PC 626.9 is the statute that outlines the Gun Free-Zone Act. Under the Act, it is illegal to bring or have a firearm in a school zone. According to the law, it is unlawful to:
- Be within one thousand feet of school ground when having a gun
- To draw or attempt to remove a firearm within school grounds completely disregarding the public’s safety.
- Have a loaded weapon within school grounds
If the court finds you guilty of this offense beyond reasonable certainty, you will face up to seven years in prison.
2. Bringing a Firearm in a Government Establishment
As per PEN 171(c), it is unlawful to bring or have a loaded weapon wholly disregarded by a government premise. The buildings outlined under this statute include:
- All legislative buildings
- The California state capitol building
- Senate or assembly hearing room
- Governor’s office
You can only bring your firearm to these establishments if you are licensed and the security agencies in charge allow you to bring the weapon with you.
When charged with a misdemeanor PC 171c violation, the penalties include no more than 12 months in county jail or a court fine of no more than one thousand dollars. For a felony conviction, the punishment is as much as 36 months incarceration in prison.
If you bring any prohibited weapon, a stun gun, spot maker, BB gun, or pellet gun to a government establishment, you will face misdemeanor charges whose penalties are stated above.
California Common Crimes for Using a Weapon
Even if you’re 21 years or older and the state allows you to use a firearm, regulations are available to control gun usage. Discussed below are some of the instances you could be charged for unlawful use of a gun:
1. Brandishing a Firearm Rudely or Angrily
According to California PEN 417, it’s a crime to draw, exhibit or use a firearm or deadly weapon in a threatening way. So even if you are in a heated disagreement with someone else, do not draw or brandish your deadly weapon angrily because this could attract charges.
It‘s easy to be sentenced for this crime because the only element of the case that the prosecutor must demonstrate is that you brandished a gun, regardless of whether you intended to use it or not. The offenses are common in domestic violence cases or during the commission of a crime.
It’s worth noting that if you draw a weapon when acting in self-defense or defense of others, it isn’t a crime. Also, it doesn’t matter whether the gun was loaded or not. As long as you brandished the weapon, you are guilty of the crime. However, if the firearm you drew is a BB gun or pellet gun, you won’t be guilty because these are not deadly weapons.
Similarly, you should understand that you don’t need to shoot or point a gun threatening someone. The other person doesn't even need to see the weapon. The crucial element here is that you drew or produced the weapon rudely or angrily, and other people were present. Note that if you brandished the gun to make threats, you could be charged with criminal threats under PEN 422 on top of brandishing a firearm.
A violation of PEN 417 can be a misdemeanor or felony. If the breach occurs during a fight, you will be subject to a mandatory minimum of thirty days in jail. Otherwise, a misdemeanor is punishable by up to half a year in jail and court fines of no more than $1,000.
The offense becomes a wobbler if the following facts are present in your case:
- If you draw a weapon in a daycare zone when the center is in session
- When you pull the deadly weapon and threaten a peace officer on duty
- Brandish a gun on a vehicle occupant or motorist
If any of these circumstances are present in your case, you may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction will attract at least three months in jail, while a felony will attract prison incarceration of between 16 to 36 months.
2. Causing Physical Injury by Brandishing a Firearm
You will be guilty of PC 417.6 if you draw a weapon to resist or threaten an officer during arrest and, in the process, end up inflicting bodily harm on them or other people. The injuries listed under this statute include loss of consciousness, severe wound, fractures, and missing body organs or functions.
A felony sentence for this offense will lead to no more than three years in prison, while a misdemeanor will lead to up to a year in jail custody.
PC 26100 defines drive-by-shooting as discharging a weapon while in a moving or static car. Therefore, you will be charged with this offense if the following facts about your case are actual:
- You deliberately allowed a car occupant to bring a firearm
- You intentionally and maliciously let the person discharge the gun at another person while in the car.
- Deliberately and maliciously, allowed another person to fire a firearm within your vehicle
Depending on the nature of your case, the offense is a wobbler. Being the car owner, you will face misdemeanor charges whose conviction will lead to a maximum of six months of jail incarceration and a fine of at least $1,000. If it is a felony, the offense will lead to up to three years in state prison and court fines of as much as $10,000 when convicted.
If you’re the gunner in the incident, you will face the same punishment as the car driver. However, California classifies the shooting of an individual from a car as a direct felony. Therefore, being sentenced for the crime will lead to 36, 60, or 84 months in prison and court fines not exceeding ten thousand dollars.
4. Assault With a Firearm
As per PC 245(a)(2), it is unlawful to assault another person using a weapon. Assault is defined under PC 240 as an illegal attempt coupled with the capacity to cause great physical harm. An attempt to cause bodily injury or death alone is enough to result in a conviction.
It’s worth noting that for the assault charge to stand in court, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you had the intentions to cause harm or death to the victim of your actions. Further, the intent to cause injury must be coupled with the ability to do so. Therefore, if you made threats to someone using an unloaded firearm, you can only be charged with drawing a weapon or making criminal threats, but not assault.
The punishment for this crime depends on your victim and the form of weapon used in the assault. The offense is a felony when you use a .50 BMG rifle, machine gun, or assault gun. However, if the weapon used is a generic firearm, the prosecutor has the discretion to either file misdemeanor or felony charges.
When a BMG rifle is used, a felony conviction will lead to four, eight, or twelve years of prison incarceration. If the weapon used is a semi-automatic weapon, the felony penalties when sentenced will include three, six, or eight years in prison.
However, when you use a revolver, the offense is a wobbler. A misdemeanor sentence will lead to no more than a year in jail, while that of a felony will lead to no more than forty-eight months in prison.
If the victim of the assault is a peace officer, the punishment is up to nine years prison sentence if you used an automatic firearm. In addition, you will face up to twelve years in prison, where you used a BMG rifle to assault a peace officer.
Find a Gun Crimes Attorney Near Me
With the knowledge of the severe gun offense consequences for the various crimes listed above, you should consider legal advice if faced with these charges. Call our Santa Ana criminal lawyer at 714-887-4810 if you need legal guidance in Santa Ana, CA, today for a free consultation.