One of the most severe offenses in California is the possession of a prohibited weapon. Weapon laws in California can be confusing because certain weapons are legal, but others become illegal after certain modifications. Changing the ammunition type or increasing a weapon's magazine capacity may render it unlawful. California law prohibits the manufacture, possession, or sale of certain dangerous weapons. If you or a loved one faces charges for manufacture, possession, or sale of prohibited weapons, the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer will help fight the charges.

California PC 16590 Explained

The prohibited weapons, according to the California PC 16590, fall under four main categories:

  • Prohibited firearms

  • Prohibited firearm equipment and ammunition

  • Prohibited knives and swords

  • Prohibited martial arts weapons

  • Other prohibited weapons

It is an offense to possess short-barreled shotguns or rifles as outlined by the California PC 33215. You could also face charges if you possess undetectable firearms as explained under PC 24610 or firearms that are not easy to recognize as outlined under PC 24510. Unconventional pistols, as defined under PC 31500 and wallet guns, cane guns, or zip guns as explained under PC 24710, 24410, and 33600, are illegal.

Prohibited firearm equipment and ammunition include bullets that contain explosive agents as outlined under California PC 30210. You should not possess camouflaging firearm containers, as explained under PC 24310. According to California PC 32900, it is an offense to possess multi burst trigger activators.

Prohibited knives and swords include ballistic knives (PC 21110), lipstick case knives (PC 20610), belt-buckle knives (PC 20410), cane swords (PC 20510), and shobi-zues (PC 20710). It is an offense to possess writing penknives (PC 20910) and air gauge knives (PC 20310).

The prohibited martial arts weapons include shurikens (PC 22410) and nunchakus (PC 22010). According to California law, other prohibited weapons include brass knuckles according to PC 21810 and leaded canes as per PC 22210. As per the California PC 19200, it is a crime to possess metal replica grenades or metal military practice grenades. The California PC 22210 lists these prohibited weapons: sand clubs, batons, slung shots, blackjacks, and sandbags.

The California PC 16590 makes it a crime to either:

  • Possess

  • Manufacture

  • Import into California

  • Lend

  • Offer for sale

Any generally prohibited weapon. When determining if you are guilty under PC 16590, the prosecutor will consider whether you possessed the prohibited weapon and whether you acted knowingly or on purpose. Certain classes of people are exempt from prosecution under the prohibited weapons laws.

What the Prosecutor Has to Prove

The prosecutor cannot accuse you under the California pc 16590 unless they prove certain factors. You can only be guilty under PC 16590 if you act knowingly. This means that you were aware that the object you possessed was a weapon or that the item could serve as a weapon. The law does not require the prosecutor to prove that you intended to use the object as a weapon. As long as you were aware that the item was a weapon or could serve as a weapon, you can face the charges.

You may buy an antique cane without realizing that it contains a sword. You only discover the sword while going through a security check. In this case, you can defend yourself by stating that you did not know that you were carrying an illegal cane sword that can serve as a weapon.

The prosecutor must prove that you possessed the prohibited weapon through actual possession or constructive possession. You have actual possession of a prohibited weapon if you are holding the weapon or direct access to the weapon. Actual possession applies if you have the weapon somewhere on your body or in your clothes. If the weapon is in your purse or in your backpack, you are in actual possession.

You may still be in possession of a weapon, even if you do not have immediate access to it. This is known as constructive possession. As long as you have control over the weapon or a right to control it, you are in constructive possession of it. If you import brass knuckles and keep them in your garage, you would be guilty of both possessing and importing a prohibited weapon.

Exemption From Prosecution Under PC 16590

According to PC 16590, certain people are exempt from prosecution. The exemptions include:

  • The sale or transfer or a weapon to law enforcement agencies — The law allows law enforcement agencies to possess prohibited weapons

  • Possession of nunchucks by an institution or a school that trains martial arts

  • Possession of relic firearms and ammunitions by people of a curio or an antique

  • Possession of prohibited weapons by libraries, historical societies, and museums

  • The use of unloaded weapons during video, television, and movie productions

  • Turning a prohibited weapon over to the law enforcement officers — If the police arrest you on your way to surrender a prohibited weapon to the authorities, you cannot face charges

  • Possession of a prohibited weapon by a forensic laboratory

Penalties for Charges Under PC 16590

Violation of the PC 16590 is a wobbler offense. This means that the offense is either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the prosecutor charges the crime as a misdemeanor, the penalties include jail time for up to one year in county jail. You may also face a fine that does not exceed $1,000. A felony offense is punishable by a jail time not exceeding three years in county jail and a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.

Immigration Consequences

Typically, a conviction under PC 16590 does not have negative immigration consequences. However, if you are a U.S. non-citizen, a conviction revolving around prohibited weapons may lead to deportation. You could also be inadmissible into the United States. The negative immigration consequences may apply after a felony conviction, especially an aggravated felony. However, California courts rule that convictions under PC 16590 do not amount to an aggravated felony and should not lead to deportation or inadmissibility into the U.S.

Effects on Your Gun Rights

A conviction under California PC 16590 could harm your gun rights. According to California law, convicted felons have no mandate of owning or possessing a gun. The violation of PC 16590 may attract either a misdemeanor or felony charge. If the offense is a felony, you will lose your gun rights. You should contact an attorney immediately when the prosecutor accuses you of violating prohibited weapon laws. Your attorney will do their best to prevent a felony conviction that will affect your gun rights.

The Common Legal Defenses for a Conviction Under PC 16590

You should not despair when the prosecutor accuses you of violating the prohibited weapon laws. With the help of an experienced criminal attorney, you can create a convincing defense to fight the charges. Some of the applicable defenses for a conviction under PC 16590 are:

The Weapon Does not Qualify as a Prohibited Weapon

Even if you possessed a weapon, you should not face charges if the weapon did not qualify as a prohibited weapon. The weapon involved must fit a description of one of the offenses listed under PC 16590. Therefore, you can attest that even if you had a weapon, the weapon is not a prohibited weapon according to the provisions of PC 16590.

You Had No Knowledge

You are only guilty of violating prohibited weapon rules if you know that an object is a weapon or could serve as a weapon. Therefore, if you were not aware of an object's nature as a weapon, you can fight the charges.

The prosecutor must prove that you were aware that you possessed, manufactured, or sold a prohibited weapon and that you were aware of its nature. If you did not know that the weapon was in your possession or that what you possessed is a weapon, you are not guilty under PC 16590. For instance, you could have given your backpack to a friend, and they place a short-barreled shotgun without your knowledge. In this case, you can fight the charges by stating that you were not aware of the gun's presence.

Subjection to an Illegal Search or Seizure

If you feel that the law enforcement officers subjected you to an illegal search and seizure while arresting you, you can base your defense on this factor. The law requires the police to have a valid search warrant before conducting a search or seizure on your property. If the police did not have a valid search warrant, they should provide a reasonable explanation for not having the warrant. If you and your attorney prove that the police subjected you to an illegal search, the court may exclude the evidence acquired illegally from your case. The court may reduce or even dismiss your charges.

You Had a Valid Permit

Under limited circumstances, it is allowable to possess, manufacture, sell, or transfer prohibited weapons. It is legal for law enforcement officers to possess prohibited weapons. Schools and institutions that teach self-defense can possess nunchakus as outlined under PC 22015. In addition, schools and institutions that teach martial arts can possess and manufacture nunchakus. As long as you have a valid permit to have a prohibited weapon, you can fight the charges.

Expungement of the Criminal Conviction

Like other criminal offenses in California, you can apply for an expungement of a conviction under California PC 16590. However, for the judge to award you an expungement, you should have completed your probation or jail time, depending on what the court imposed. At times, the judge may expunge your criminal conviction even if you violate the probation terms, but this will rely on the judge's discretion.

An expungement of a criminal conviction is advantageous because it will relieve you of the criminal conviction hardships. After expungement, the conviction will no longer be available in the public databases. If a potential employer conducts a background check on you, they will not find information regarding the expunged conviction. Therefore, you will not face discrimination based on your past criminal conviction.

You do not have to reveal details of the expunged criminal conviction even if a person asks you whether you have a previous conviction. However, if you seek to work as a peace officer or a law enforcement officer, you have to disclose the expunged criminal conviction. Even after removing information from the public databases, details of your conviction will still be available in the law enforcement databases.

Related Offenses

Three offenses are closely related to the crime of possessing, manufacturing, or selling prohibited weapons. The related crimes are:

Brandishing a Weapon PC 417

California PC 471 defines the crime of brandishing a weapon. You may face charges for this offense if you draw or exhibit a deadly firearm or weapon. You could also face charges if you use a deadly weapon in a fight. The violation of PC 417 revolves around guns and applies to other objects that can serve as a weapon.

The prosecutor will have to prove several factors to accuse you of this crime. They have to prove that:

  • You exhibited or drew a firearm or a deadly weapon in the presence of another person's

  • You did so in an angry, rude, or threatening manner.

  • You used a weapon during a fight or an argument.

  • You did not draw or exhibit the weapon in self-defense.

According to the law, a deadly weapon is any object that can cause severe bodily injury or an inherently deadly object. If you brandish a weapon and cause serious bodily harm to another person, you will face more severe PC 417.4 PC charges. If you exhibit or brandish an imitation firearm, you may face charges under PC 417.4 PC. It is important to note that you do not have to point the weapon at another person to face charges.

Most offenses of brandishing a weapon are misdemeanor offenses. The offense is punishable by imprisonment of three months to one year in county jail. If you brandish or exhibit a firearm capable of being concealed, you will face misdemeanor charges as long as you brandish the weapon in a public place or property. You will be subject to a jail time of three months to one year and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Brandishing a weapon in a school property that is not occupied is a misdemeanor. However, if you brandish a weapon in a day-care center property that is open, the crime becomes a wobbler and can be a felony or misdemeanor.

Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public PC 25850

The California PC 25850 makes it a crime to carry a loaded firearm, especially if you carry the firearm in public or in a vehicle. You do not have to display or brandish the weapon to face charges for carrying a loaded firearm. The prosecutor will have to prove several elements to accuse you of this offense:

  • You carried a loaded firearm in your person or your vehicle.

  • You were aware that you were carrying a firearm.

  • When committing the offense, you were in a public street or place where it is unlawful to discharge a firearm.

The law defines a public place as an area open for the public and easy to access. The simple violation of PC 25850 is a misdemeanor offense. The penalties include a jail time of not more than a year and a fine of not more than $1,000. However, the crime becomes a wobbler if aggravating factors are present.

You will face felony charges if you carry a loaded firearm, and you are not a licensed gun owner. You will also face felony charges if you have a prior conviction of specific misdemeanor or drug offenses.

Carrying an Unloaded Firearm in Public

According to the California PC 26350, it is an offense for a person to carry an unloaded firearm in a public place. In a private place, you can carry a loaded firearm without violating the law. According to California law, it is a crime to 'open carry' an unloaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle in a public area. Open carry means that the weapon is not concealed. If you hide the gun, you will face separate charges of carrying a concealed firearm.

Carrying an unloaded firearm in public is punishable by a jail time of up to one year in county jail. You may also have to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000. You can fight the charges by pointing out that you have a valid permit to carry the firearm. You can also state that you did not carry the firearm in public. If the police engaged in unlawful conduct at the time of your arrest, you might base your defense on this factor.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Violating the California PC 16590 is a serious offense, especially if the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony. The potential crimes for the crime include jail times and hefty fines. If you or your loved one faces charges for violating prohibited weapons laws, you should immediately speak to a criminal defense attorney. The Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer provides legal representation for individuals facing PC 16590 charges. We will evaluate your case and help you develop an appropriate defense. Contact us at 310-502-1314 and speak to one of our attorneys.