Common Weapon Charges in California
Some weapon charges are more common than others in California. The penalties for different gun crimes correspond to how serious the charges are.
Assault with a firearm is one of these charges. The attempt to inflict physical injury on another person by any means, combined with an ability to carry out that intent, constitutes an assault. The penalty for assault with a firearm is at least two years and up to 12 years in jail or prison.
Another common gun crime is brandishing a weapon. If you draw a gun, wave it around, or otherwise show it in a threatening way, that could be considered brandishing. You don’t have to intend to use the weapon; just brandishing it constitutes a crime. The penalty ranges from three months to three years in jail or prison.
Gross negligent discharge of a firearm is another common weapons charge. This involves discharging a firearm or a BB gun with CO2 canisters and ball bearings in a way that might cause the injury or death of another person. It must be intentional and not accidental. It also must be extremely careless (also known as “gross” negligence) to merit this charge.
Other common charges include:
- felony possession of a firearm
- illegal concealed carry
- carrying a loaded firearm in public
- possessing a firearm in a prohibited place (such as an airport)
Drive-by shootings and shooting at an inhabited or occupied building or vehicle are two further common types of weapon charges.
Under California law, individuals are prohibited from owning certain firearms, including:
- undetectable firearms
- short-barreled shotguns and rifles
- firearms that are not immediately recognizable as firearms
- unconventional pistols
- and others
It’s also important to know that there are certain types of equipment and ammunition that are prohibited. Speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you are unsure whether your firearms, equipment, or ammunition are prohibited.
Unlawful Carrying of a Loaded Weapon
Under California’s strict gun laws, you may have been charged with unlawful carrying of a loaded weapon. There are certain circumstances that must be met to merit this charge.
If you carry a gun with an unexpended bullet in the firing chamber in public or in your vehicle, you could face a weapons charge. Even if the weapon isn’t working, if it was loaded while you were carrying it in public, then that may be a gun crime. If a bullet is attached to the gun in a clip or magazine, the gun is considered loaded. Again, you could face charges for unlawful carrying of a loaded weapon in this case.
If you have been charged with a weapons crime, you have options. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you build your defense so that you have the strongest case possible. Your defense could be based on the fact that you did not have a prohibited weapon. If you had a weapon but it was not prohibited as defined in the California statute, then you may be able to use this defense. It’s also possible that you didn’t know that the weapon you owned was violating the law. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you build your case on this basis. Finally, it’s entirely possible that the authorities performed an unlawful search and seizure when they found your prohibited weapon. Without a valid search warrant, the authorities cannot conduct a search or take property.