It is a criminal offense to carry a loaded concealed firearm unless you have a legal license. A person might carry a concealed firearm in public with the reasonable belief that he or she is in danger, but that would lead to a criminal charge. A conviction can lead to severe punishments, including imprisonment and withdrawal of your license to own a firearm. Get in touch with us at the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer if you need help in fighting charges for carrying a concealed firearm and related offenses.
The Legal Definition of Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Carrying a concealed firearm in California is a violation of Penal Code 25400. A person is liable for this crime if he or she commits particular actions with a revolver, a pistol, or any type of firearm that can be concealed by a person. These actions include:
- Carrying a gun hidden in a vehicle that you control or direct
- Carrying a firearm that you hide upon yourself
- Causing a gun to be hidden in a vehicle you will be occupying
As of 1st January 2012, an exception that involves carrying open firearms came into effect. Therefore, it was illegal to carry an unloaded gun in public openly.
For any prosecutor to successfully charge someone with this offense, there are specific factors that he or she should prove. These factors are considered as the elements of the crime and are as follows.
- A firearm was concealed on yourself or in your vehicle
- You were aware of the existence of the hidden gun
- The gun was concealed substantially
Here is a detailed explanation of these elements.
Under Penal Code 25400, a perpetrator is punished for carrying a hidden firearm. However, conveying the weapon in plain view does not make you guilty of breaching this law. In this case, you will violate Penal Code 26350, which makes it an offense to carry a revealing and unloaded handgun in public or outside your vehicle.
If the gun is partly hidden, you can be considered responsible for conveying a gun under Penal Code 25400. This happens even when the weapon is unidentifiable. Under Penal Code 25400(b), carrying a firearm openly in a belt holster is not considered as concealing the gun. However, as of 1st January 2012, it became unlawful to convey an unloaded weapon in California.
Revolver, Pistol, or any Other Guns that can be Hidden by a Person
A revolver, pistol, or other firearms that are concealable on a person explains any device, designated to be utilized as ammunition that forcefully expels a projectile through explosion or any other form of firing. The device should also have a barrel of less than or more than 16 inches in length and has a design that is interchangeable with 16 inches or lesser barrels.
The explanation also includes a receiver or frame of any type of such weapon. The structure works as the basis of a pistol used in mounting its parts and barrel. The receiver restrains the mechanical part of a firearm, including the bolt carrier group and the trigger housing.
Under Penal Code 16520(a), a firearm can be explained as a gadget meant to be utilized as ammunition that expels via a barrel and has a projectile expelled by combustion force.
It can also include a rocket, a rocket-propelled launcher, and any similar device that contains explosive or combustible material. This does not involve the fact that the device has the design needed for distress signaling or emergency. Under Penal Code 25400, firearms include pistols, handguns, rifles, revolvers, tasers, and shotguns.
Please note that BB guns and Pellets guns rely on force on air pressure, but are not combustible to be considered as guns under this law.
The intention behind California laws under Penal Code 25400 is to avoid provoking the society when a concealed firearm is identified. Therefore, prosecutors can still sentence you with conveying a hidden weapon even when you have an inoperable gun.
Carried on the Person
The requirement of conveying a hidden weapon explains that you possessed a concealed weapon physically. It does not matter whether the firearm was on you (in person) or an object that you own. Therefore, carrying a hidden gun becomes evident if you have it in your purse, briefcase, pocket, or anything else.
Requirements for Knowing the Existence of a Gun
Most gun laws in California, including Penal Code 25400, require you to be aware of the presence of a gun. This is to avoid wrongful convictions of offenses that you did not intentionally commit.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in California
The penalties for concealing a firearm in California vary depending on the extent of the offense that you commit. A perpetrator can be convicted with a misdemeanor, a straight felony, or a wobbler. Here is a detailed view of the penalties that fall under Penal Code 25400.
Misdemeanor Carrying a Concealed Firearm
If there are no aggravating factors and circumstances, carrying a concealed firearm is a misdemeanor violation of California Penal Code 25400. A misdemeanor violation of Penal Code 25400 attracts possible penalties such as a maximum of one year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. Alternatively, one might be granted a summary or misdemeanor probation.
If a defendant gets summary probation, he or she gets to serve some or no jail sentence. Some of the factors that influence this decision include the person’s criminal history, violence, non-compliance with the officer during arrest, and establishing that you had the intention to conceal the firearm.
In case of aggravating factors related to your breach of Penal Code 25400, this might lead to a straight felony or wobbler offense.
Straight Felony Under California Penal Code 25400
A person can face a straight felony charge under Penal Code 25400 if:
- They have a previous felony conviction or a California firearm-related offense
- Their gun was stolen, and you are aware of that or had a rational reason to suspect that it is no longer in your possession
- They are an active member of a street gang involved in criminal activities
- They do not have legal ownership of the gun
- They are under the prohibition of owning or having a firearm
- They are not allowed to own a gun due to an attempt to carry out a violent crime like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, or lewd act on a minor
If you are sentenced with a straight felony due to the above-stated factors, you will face the repercussions under Penal Code 25400, which includes probation for a maximum of a year in county jail. You might also be convicted to 16 months, 2 or 3 years sentence in county jail. You can also get a maximum fine of $10,000.
Wobbler Charges for Carrying a Concealed Firearm
You can be sentenced with a wobbler under Penal Code 25400 if you have a previous misdemeanor conviction against property or for dangerous drug crimes, and a firearm was found hidden in your car. You also can get charged with a wobbler if you have a loaded firearm, or you can easily access the location of the ammunition, whereas you are not a registered gun owner.
A police officer can arrest you if you are not a registered gun owner if he or she has a foreseeable cause to believe so.
Having a wobbler charge in California means that the prosecutor can file the case as a felony or misdemeanor. This relies on the nature of your offense and criminal record. If you get a misdemeanor, the possible consequences include a maximum of one year in county jail, a fine that amounts to $1,000, or both.
A felony charge is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000, probation for a maximum of a year in county jail. Alternatively, you can get 16 months, two years, or three years sentence in county jail.
Effects for Previous Firearm Charges in Relation to Penal Code 25400 Conviction
Anyone charged under Penal Code 25400 and have a previous conviction for a felony or California gun delinquency are bound to serve at least three months in county jail.
If you are sentenced under Penal Code 25400 and have a previous conviction for using a lethal weapon during an assault, firing at an occupied car or residence, or brandishing a gun, you are bound to a sentence of between three to six months in county jail.
The only situation that would make the court forego these charges would be when it is necessary to grant probation and suspend the jail time, which serves as the best interest of justice.
Apart from the above-stated penalties, you can be charged for breaching Penal Code 25400 if you lose your weapon.
Possibility Of Expungement Under Penal Code 25400
If you get probation for breaching Penal Code 25400, you might have your criminal records expunged if you complete the probation period, or end it early.
Once you are expunged from your conviction, your criminal records get erased, including any employment disclosure. However, you will not have permission to own or control any gun or prevent conviction under Penal Code 29800.
However, the judge might fail to consider expungement when you violate probation or violate the conditions provided during the probation.
Penal Code 25400 Conviction and Rights to Own or Possess Firearms
A misdemeanor conviction under Penal Code 25400 can’t cancel the ability to possess a gun unless you have been deemed to a juvenile court ward due to a misdemeanor sentence. In such a situation, you cannot own a firearm until you attain thirty years of age.
If you are convicted of a felony for carrying a concealed firearm, you are subjected to a gun ownership ban for a lifetime, unless your rights to own one are restored. This ban applies to both adults and minors tried and convicted as adults.
When you intend to regain your firearm while you are convicted with a felony, but as a wobbler, you will consider two crucial steps. First, you have to file a petition to reduce the crime to a minor offense then submit an appeal to dismiss the charges.
If you undergo the process successfully, you will be able to restore your gun rights. If not so, you can regain your gun rights by obtaining a California Governor's pardon for violating Penal Code 25400. You can receive the Governor’s mercy if you stay within California by obtaining a rehabilitation certificate. If you are not living within California, you can apply for pardon directly from the California Governor.
Anyone convicted of a serious crime involving a lethal weapon does not have the chance to have his or her gun rights restored.
Legal Defenses for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in California
If a prosecutor successfully convicts you with the breach of Penal Code 25400, you are at stake of facing the penalties described above. Therefore, you have to hire a criminal attorney to help you avoid the stringent penalties or have your charges reduced. Your attorney will employ various legal defenses that best suits your case. Here are a few legal arguments that your attorney can use.
You Were Not Aware that You Had a Firearm
The knowledge about the presence of a gun makes you liable for Penal Code 25400. Therefore, if you do not realize that you had a gun on you, you are not guilty of the offense. For that reason, you must be sure that somebody else placed a firearm in your jacket, briefcase, or purse without realizing it.
The Gun Was in the Trunk of your Vehicle or Locked Container
You are not guilty of violating Penal Code 25400 if your firearm was in the trunk of your care or locked in a container, excluding the glove box. Also, you are not guilty if you have the authorization to possess a firearm.
You have the legal title to own or possess a firearm if you have permission as the lawful owner.
The Weapon was Concealed In Your Business or Residence
As long as you have the entitlement to carry or own a gun, you can conceal it in your home or businesses that you own. However, this does not apply to people who live or work in their cars, such as taxi-cab drivers. If such professionals conceal a weapon in their workplace (cars), they will be violating Penal Code 25400.
You are Licensed to Carry a Concealed Firearm
If you have a permit or license to carry a concealed firearm, then carrying a gun is not a violation of Penal Code 25400. However, you have the burden of proving that you have a valid license to make this legal defense compelling.
The Police Officer Obtained the Weapon Through an Illegal Search or Seizure
Many weapon charges come into play when an officer stops a suspect in some type of investigation, such as speeding or illegal car parking. As the officer speaks to you, he or she would probably find a weapon when patting you down. In such a situation, the officer will be violating your Fourth Amendment constitutional rights that protect you from any illegal search or seizures on you, your property, or business.
The officer lacks the authority to search your car since before one gets the legal conduct to search, he or she must have:
- A valid California search warrant that authorizes him or her to search you or your property
- A probable cause to conduct the search
- Your consent to conduct of your person or property
If the officer does not have legal consent to search your property or you, any weapon seized during such a situation is inadmissible.
The Weapon was Meant for Self-Defense
You might be able to fight the charges of carrying a hidden firearm through California’s self-defense laws. This applies if you reasonably believe that your life was in grave danger and due to the specific threats or conduct by other people that justify a restraining order from the court.
Therefore, if your attorney can prove that you were reasonably under danger even after securing a restraining order, you might have dismissed the charges.
A police officer can be guilty of misconduct when he or she plants a hidden weapon on you or your vehicle. Also, when the officer lies in the report, makes a false testimony, or coerces a confession from you, these actions are considered as police misconduct.
If you suspect the possibility of police misconduct, your attorney should file a Pitchess motion to determine whether the officer is used to such offenses. Once you successfully establish the proposal, the court will have to dismiss the case.
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A successful conviction for carrying a concealed firearm can lead to severe penalties. You can avoid a conviction by hiring a professional criminal attorney. A suitable attorney should have the experience and resources needed in handling the case. We at the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer have the experience of delivering excellent criminal defense services if you are facing gun offenses in the Los Angeles area. Get in touch with us today at 310-502-1314.