A charge for possession of prohibited weapons is undoubtedly one of the most serious and life-changing offenses you can face. On top of that, weapon laws can be highly confusing because some weapons are lawful, but others become unlawful after particular modifications. For instance, increasing a firearm's magazine capacity or changing the ammunition type could make it criminal.
When you are under investigation, arrested, or have a pending charge for any weapon offense, particularly one that involves prohibited weapons, a criminal defense attorney can help. At Darwish Law, we understand what a criminal charge can do to your life.
Apart from negatively affecting your reputation and professional life, a conviction for selling, possessing, or manufacturing a prohibited weapon crime can jeopardize your freedom. Our attorneys will evaluate your case's details and prepare appropriate defenses to help you obtain a desirable outcome on the charge, wherever you are in Santa Ana.
Understanding What a Prohibited Weapon is Under Penal Code (PC) 16590
Although the Constitution's Second Amendment allows you to own a firearm, there are limits to the type of firearm or weapon you can legally own. According to PC 16590, it is illegal to manufacture, sell, or have specific dangerous weapons in your possession. Also known as generally prohibited weapons, dangerous weapons that can put you in trouble with the law under this statute include the following:
- Camouflage firearm
- Short-barreled shotgun/rifle
- Undetectable firearm
- Cane gun
- Air gauge knife
- Ballistic knife
- Writing pen knife
- Metal knuckles
- Cane sword
- Large capacity magazine
- Zip gun
- Lipstick case knife
- Concealed dagger
- Multiburst trigger activator
- Wallet guns
The above-listed dangerous weapons are not the only illegal weapons prohibited under PC 16590. If you are unsure whether the weapon falls under this prohibited weapon category, you should speak with an attorney.
What to Expect After an Arrest for an Alleged PC 16590 Violation
If it is your first time dealing with the criminal justice system, you could expect a fast turnaround from the arrest to the trial hearing, like you often see in movies. However, the reality is very different from what you expect.
Once the police arrest you for an alleged PC 16590 violation, they will take you into custody or jail and book you into the legal justice system. The booking process typically involves the following activities:
- Recording of your charge details and personal information in the computer system
- Mugshot and fingerprint taking
- A thorough search on your person to check whether you have contrabands
- Confiscation of your items, like watches, clothes, and bracelets
Once the officers complete the booking process, you should anticipate the following before your release from jail, which should happen within 72 hours, depending on the facts of your case:
While it is not a mandatory procedure, the arresting officers and the prosecutor could ask you investigative questions to find adequate evidence to file legal charges against you for the alleged PC 16590 violation. Whatever you choose to disclose to the officers or the prosecutor during this legal questioning process can be used against you.
Hence, you should politely and respectfully decline to answer their questions until you contact your attorney for legal advice and representation.
The Arraignment/Bail Hearing
If the prosecutor decides to bring formal charges against you, you should expect the arraignment or bail hearing within 48 hours after your arrest. However, if your arrest occurred on the weekend, you will stay in police custody for up to 72 hours before seeing a judge. At this initial court appearance, you will:
- Know the specific charges filed against you
- Enter your preferred plea choice
- Find out the available plea bargain deals for your unique case
- Find out your unique case's bail amount
- Be informed of your right to have a public defender represent your best interests if you cannot afford a personal attorney
Your defense attorney will advise of the best plea choice for your unique case. Pleading guilty or no contest will end your case at this stage of the legal justice system, and the court will penalize you for your charges. For that reason, most attorneys will advise you to enter a "not guilty" plea, which allows you to challenge the charges at trial for the best possible outcome.
While the arresting officers could accept your payment of bail for severe offenses like the alleged PC 16590 violation, you will have to wait for the bail hearing, which will occur simultaneously with your arraignment. At this hearing, the court will also decide whether to release you on bail and the amount you should pay for your unique case, depending on the following factors:
- Your past criminal history
- The facts of the case
- The predetermined bail amount for your unique case
- The likelihood that you will return to court to challenge the case
- Whether you are a flight risk
- Whether you have a record of skipping bail after your release from jail
Once you find out the bail amount for your unique case, the burden will be on you to pay it as soon as possible to secure your release from jail before your case's trial date. If you cannot afford your case's bail amount, a bail bondsman can bond you out of jail.
However, you must be ready to pay him/her ten percent (10%) of your total bail amount as a premium for their speedy and much-needed bail bond service.
While it could seem unfair, if you cannot afford bail as security for your release, you will stay in jail until the court makes a judgment on the case. That is why most defendants in legal custody opt to work with a bondsman to obtain their release without delay after an arrest.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove for a Conviction for the Alleged PC 16590 Violation
After a release on bail, you should return to court on time during your trial date to challenge the case. At the trial hearing, a judge or a team of twelve jurors will decide whether the allegations you are up against are true depending on the evidence the prosecutor and your attorney will present.
For a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation, the prosecutor presiding over your case will have a burden to prove the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You manufactured, possessed, caused to be imported, exported for sale, received, or lent a prohibited weapon
- You did all of the above knowingly and were aware that the object could serve as a weapon
Even if you did not have the motive or intent to use the weapon, the court could convict you of the alleged PC 16590 violation if the prosecutor can prove that you were aware that someone could use it for unlawful reasons. Additionally, the weapon does not need to be in proper working condition to be guilty under PC 16590.
For the sake of this law, possession could be actual or constructive. Actual possession of the weapon means it was on your person or in your clothes. On the other hand, constructive possession means you did not have immediate access to the weapon, but it was somewhere within your reach. For instance, the weapon was on a shelf or closet in a house you legally own.
Penalties for a Conviction for the Alleged PC 16590 Violation
The prosecutor can file the alleged PC 16590 violation as either a felony or misdemeanor because it is a wobbler. Whether the prosecutor will file your charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony depends on your unique case's specific facts and circumstances. A misdemeanor conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation will attract the following potential penalties:
- A fine amounting to up to $1,000
- Up to one year of jail time
When the prosecutor submits your specific case as a felony, you should anticipate more severe punishment upon conviction, including:
- Up to $10,000 fine
- A jail term of up to three years
Other Consequences of PC 16590 Violation Conviction
In addition to the above standard legal penalties, a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation will also attract the following detrimental consequences:
Negative Immigration Consequences
Generally speaking, a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation does not attract immigration consequences unless you are a non-citizen. If you are a non-citizen or an alien, a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation can attract deportation and inadmissibility consequences if your case has some aggravating circumstances.
For instance, being charged with a violent felony offense like armed robbery or murder along with the alleged PC 16590 violation could lead to deportation upon conviction.
Loss of Your Legal Gun Rights
A conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation could also affect your legal rights to have or carry a gun. According to PC 29800, a felon cannot purchase, receive, or own a firearm. Hence, if you are guilty of a felony PC 16590 violation, you will lose your firearm or gun rights.
A Criminal Record
A conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation will remain on your criminal record or history. That means anyone who wants to know your criminal background, including potential employers, will know you have a conviction for a PC 16590 violation.
As a result, this could affect your chances of securing reliable employment even after serving your prison time for a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation.
There are several intimidating and clear statutory consequences of a conviction, but the most life-changing and challenging to overcome are collateral. That is why it is important to retain the services of an attorney upon an arrest or charge for any criminal offense to help you avoid or reduce the possible consequences you could face upon conviction.
Legal Defenses for the Alleged PC 16590 Violation
While it is natural to worry when you are under arrest or investigation for any alleged offense, that does not mean a conviction is imminent and unavoidable. With the help of a reliable defense attorney, you can create defenses to challenge the allegations you are up against for the best possible outcome.
A skilled attorney can use his/her experience in the legal justice system to obtain a desirable outcome on the alleged PC 16590 violation using the following legal defenses:
You Were Not Aware the Alleged Object Was a Weapon
As previously mentioned, you are guilty of the alleged PC 16590 violation if you knew the alleged object was a weapon or someone could use it for unlawful purposes. Hence, if you did not know the alleged object was a weapon, a skilled defense attorney can apply proper arguments to support this legal defense for the best possible outcome.
The Alleged Weapon Was Not a Dangerous or Prohibited Weapon
While you had a weapon in your possession, you cannot be guilty of the alleged PC 16590 violation if it does not qualify as a prohibited weapon. If the weapon recovered by the law enforcement officer does not qualify as a weapon, the judge could drop or reduce the alleged offense to a lighter charge.
You are a Victim of Unlawful Search and Seizure
Most weapon-related charges arise when a law enforcement officer stops you and conducts an investigation. However, the officers have no legal right to search your person or vehicle without a search warrant issued by the court. If the arresting officer did not have a valid court-issued search warrant, he/she must have a legal reason to do so, also known as probable cause.
Without a valid search warrant and probable cause, the evidence recovered after the search cannot apply against you in court. That means the court could have a reason to dismiss or reduce the charges to a lighter charge, with less severe consequences upon conviction.
You Had a Valid Legal Permit to Have the Weapon
In limited circumstances, some people can lawfully own and possess the above-mentioned prohibited weapons under PC 16590 as long as they have a valid permit. Therefore, if you have a legal permit to have the prohibited weapon in your possession, you cannot be guilty under this statute as long as you can provide evidence to support this defense.
There is Insufficient Evidence Against You
For a conviction for the alleged PC 16590 violation, the prosecutor must provide proper evidence to support his/her arguments beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of the applicable evidence the court could accept for a conviction under PC 16590 include:
- Surveillance footages
- Eyewitnesses testimonies
- A photo of the weapon
If the prosecutor cannot back up his/her arguments with sufficient evidence, your defense attorney could convince the court his/her evidence against you is insufficient. When this defense argument works in your favor, the court could drop or reduce the charge to a lighter offense.
Offenses Related to the Alleged PC 16590 Violation
Several offenses are related to the alleged PC 16590 violation because they share similar facts or "elements of the " that the prosecutor must prove for a conviction. Below are two related offenses the prosecutor could decide to file alongside or as an alternative to the alleged PC 16590 violation:
Brandishing a Weapon
According to PC 417, you commit this crime when you draw and show a deadly weapon on another person threateningly or use it in any other way other than lawful self-defense. A conviction for this offense is a misdemeanor and could attract the following potential penalties:
- A fine not exceeding $1,000
- Up to one year of jail time
Carrying a Loaded Firearm
Unless you have a valid permit, it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, on a public street, or in any public place under PC 25850. Below are a few examples of acts that can attract a charge under this statute:
- Strolling through your neighborhood with a loaded pistol
- Walking or cycling through a public park with a loaded revolver
According to PC 25850, this offense is a misdemeanor, and a conviction will carry the following probable legal penalties:
- A fine amounting to up to $1,000
- Up to one (1) year of jail time
However, it is worth noting that certain aggravating factors could make this offense a wobbler. For instance, the alleged PC 25850 violation will become a wobbler offense if:
- You have a conviction record for a particular misdemeanor offense
- You are not the legal or registered owner of the weapon
If the prosecutor files your charge as a wobbler, a misdemeanor conviction will attract the same penalties as mentioned above. However, if your charge is a felony, a conviction will carry the following potential penalties:
- A jail term not exceeding three (3) years
- A fine amounting to up to $1,000
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
At Darwish Law, our reputable attorneys understand what it takes to defend people with PC 16590 charges, and we can offer you the necessary legal help too. We understand the detrimental consequences that conviction under this statute can attract, and we will help you avoid them or convince the court that you deserve less severe penalties.
Our goal is to give you the best legal representation possible as you confront the confusing legal justice system and seek the most favorable outcome on the charge. Call us at 714-887-4810 for an obligation-free consultation with our reputable attorneys, wherever you are in Santa Ana.