Because of a political climate based on almost daily media coverage of violent offenses involving weapons, prosecutors and judges take weapons charges very seriously. I’ve successfully defended thousands of clients charged with serious felonies and misdemeanors, including those charged with the following weapons and firearms offenses:
- Carrying a concealed weapon on one’s person or in a vehicle under one’s control (Penal Code Section 12025)
- Unlawful possession of a weapon (Penal Code Sections 12020 through 12040)
- Carrying a loaded firearm in public (Penal Code Section 12031)
My law firm is devoted exclusively to defending those charged with criminal offenses, including firearms and weapons offenses. Though district attorneys aggressively prosecute these offenses, I may be able to successfully seek dismissal of the charges or acquittal after the trial. Even when dismissal or acquittal is not realistic, I will seek the best possible plea negotiation.
Below is what you need to know about these charges, based on my years of experience successfully defending clients in and around San Diego. If you have any questions after reading this, get in touch for a free case evaluation to learn your legal options.
What the Law Says
Subject to narrow exceptions for particular groups who use firearms as tools of employment in certain official capacities, you may not carry a weapon that is hidden from plain view without a permit in California. While a prosecution of carrying a firearm requires the weapon to be at least partially concealed, it need not be completely hidden to constitute a violation. For example, even if a gun is tucked in your waistband under your shirt so that a bulge makes the gun obvious, this may still be sufficient to constitute concealment under the statute.
A firearm is defined broadly under the statute, so it may include handguns, pistols, rifles, shotguns and even tasers, but BB guns and pellet guns do not generally constitute a violation. Large weapons like full-size shotguns also aren’t generally covered by the statute because their size usually makes them difficult to conceal.
Consequences of Conviction
Carrying a firearm on your person is a “wobbler,” which means that the prosecutor may charge it as a misdemeanor or felony. If you have prior convictions, the prosecutor is more likely to charge the offense as a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, the criminal court may sentence you to a jail term of up to a year and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
A felony conviction of carrying a firearm on your person can result in a maximum sentence of up to 3 years in prison. If you’re charged with a straight felony for the offense, the maximum fine can be $10,000.
But the criminal penalties are only part of the story. A conviction of carrying a concealed weapon may have a vast array of other adverse consequences, including:
- Loss of the right to own or possess a firearm
- Disqualification from some occupations
- Loss of your job
- A criminal record and damage to your reputation
- Difficulty when renting property
- Loss of the Right Against Unlawful Searches and Seizures (4th waiver)
- Barriers to higher education of financial aid
- Denial of immigration benefits
I may be able to successfully employ a number of effective defenses, including:
- Lack of substantial concealment of the firearm (i.e. holstered or otherwise in open view on your person or in your car)
- Possession of license to carry permit
- Lack of knowledge of possession (e.g. carrying someone’s backpack or backpack is in the car without you knowing it contains a gun)
- Firearm was being transported in a locked box to your vehicle for a legitimate purpose like going to the gun range.
- Carrying the weapon within the business or private premises that you own or rent (must be an adult)
Other potentially relevant defenses include:
- Lack of evidence to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt
- Officer lacked “reasonable suspicion” for a stop or “probable cause” for a search or arrest
- Officer failed to issue Miranda warning or failed to honor your assertion of your rights
Whether you’re merely under investigation or have been arrested and charged, the sooner you seek legal advice, the better your prospects. Many of those sitting in jail right now wouldn’t be there if they had simply refused to speak to the police and immediately sought legal advice. It’s easy to be intimidated by law enforcement agents, who are skilled at persuading you make damaging admissions. If you’re facing pending or potential charges for a firearm or weapons offense, assert your right to have your attorney present and remain silent.
Questions? I invite you to contact me for a free consultation where we’ll go over the specifics of your case and review your legal options.