Carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited unless you are a licensed firearm carrier. If you are convicted of carrying a concealed firearm in California, you might face severe punishment that involves a jail sentence for up to three years and a fine as high as $10,000. We at Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm are ready to offer the best legal services to anyone facing charges for carrying a concealed firearm in Orange County.
How Carrying a Concealed Firearm is Defined in California
Everything to do with carrying a concealed firearm in California falls under PC 25400. You will be considered to have violated PC 25400 when:
- You carry a concealed firearm in your vehicle or a vehicle under your direction or control.
- You have the concealed firearm upon yourself or on your person.
- You caused a weapon to be carried while it is concealed in a car that you are occupying
Prosecution Under PC 25400
When a prosecutor intends to prosecute you for violating PC 25400, he or she must prove several aspects. These aspects are legally defined as the elements of the crime. Three elements of the crime must be established if you are being prosecuted for violating PC 25400. They include:
- You hid or concealed a firearm in a vehicle or on your person.
- You knew about the presence of the concealed firearm.
- The firearm was well concealed
Below is a closer look at some of the terms used in the elements of the crime that you should know about.
You would be punished for violating PC 25400 if you carried a concealed firearm. This means that a weapon that is carried openly and plainly would make you innocent of violating this statute.
Carrying a weapon in public might make you guilty for violating other related laws such as PC 26350. PC 25400 makes it a crime to carry an exposed gun publicly, whether loaded or unloaded.
Please note, you can still be found guilty under PC 25400 when your firearm is partially concealed even when it is not clear that you are carrying a weapon. For instance, if a police officer suspects a bulge or outline of a gun in your rear pocket, this would deem it as a concealed weapon.
A Concealable Firearm
You could not be prosecuted under PC 25400 unless you were involved in carrying a firearm. In California, a weapon is defined as a device that can be used as a weapon, can expel a bullet through combustion, and has an interchangeable barrel less than 16 inches or more.
Most firearms capable of being carried when concealed include pistols, shotguns, revolvers, short-barreled rifles, and tasers.
Carried on Your Person
The essentials of carrying a concealed gun in person mean that you were physically possessing the weapon. This includes carrying the firearm inside something you are holding, such as a briefcase, purse, or pocket.
You Knew About Gun’s Presence
You should know about the presence of the weapon that you are accused of concealing to be guilty of violating PC 25400. Therefore, if you were unaware of its existence, you will be innocent of the allegations.
For instance, when you grab your co-worker’s briefcase without knowing about its content and it is found to have a gun inside it, you will not be charged under this statute since you were not aware of the existence of the weapon.
People Who are Exempted from Prosecution Under PC 25400
Despite the possibility of arrest for carrying a concealed firearm, several people are exempted from any prosecution under this statute. These people include:
- Members of the United States military
- Licensed firearm dealers
- Bank messengers and guards
- Target shooting organizations and clubs members
- Licensed fishers and hunters who rely on weapons during their activities
Apart from the fact that these people have been licensed to carry weapons, they should follow certain conditions like carrying unloaded guns and using them during specific situations.
Penalties for Violating PC 25400
The kind of penalties that follow after violating PC 25400 vary based on the following:
- Your criminal background
- The possibility of having prior violent offenses
- Any evidence that shows that you intended to use the firearm
- Failure to cooperate during arrest
Based on the facts provided above, here are the kind of penalties that you might face for violating PC 25400.
In the absence of aggravating circumstances related to your violation of PC 25400, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. The potential consequences include:
- A county jail sentence that can last for one year
- A fine of up to $1,000
Please note, you can be granted misdemeanor probation instead of your county jail sentence.
Straight Felony Charge
You will be prosecuted with a felony if the following facts are accurate:
- You have a prior felony conviction for violating a California gun law.
- You possessed a stolen firearm, and you reasonably knew that it was stolen.
- You are actively involved in a criminal street gang.
- You are facing prohibition for possessing a firearm.
- You are facing a ban for possessing a firearm due to offenses such as rape, murder, obscene acts on a child, carjacking, and kidnapping.
A straight felony puts you at risk of the following consequences:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Probation with the inclusion of a county jail sentence that can last for up to one year
- Sixteen(16) months, two(2) or three(3) years in county jail
Your charges under PC 25400 can be considered a wobbler if you have a prior misdemeanor conviction for a crime against a person or property, you had a loaded gun, and you are an unregistered handgun owner.
Wobbler charges can either get you a misdemeanor or felony charge. This depends on the circumstances surrounding your allegations and your criminal history.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, you are at risk of facing the following penalties:
- A county jail sentence that can last to one year
- A fine of up to $10,000
if you are facing felony charges, the potential penalties include:
- Probation with the inclusion of a county jail sentence that can last up to one year
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Sixteen(16) months, two(2) or three(3) years in county jail
Penalties Related to Prior Firearm Charges
If you are convicted of violating PC 25400 and have previous firearm convictions, you are required to serve a minimum of three(3) months in county jail.
In case an offender faces charges for violating PC 25400 and had previous convictions of:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Shooting at a car or dwelling house
- Brandishing a firearm,
he or she should serve a county jail sentence between three(3) to six(6) months. The only exception that would help you forego this requirement is when you are served with probation rather than serving the minimum jail sentence. You might also lose your firearm besides the penalties that are stated above.
If you are convicted of violating PC 25400, you will face immigration consequences such as deportation if you are an alien or non-citizen.
You might also lose your rights to possess or own a firearm by violating this statute. However, there is an exception to someone with a “ ward of the juvenile court.” In that case, you will face prohibition from owning or possessing a gun until you are thirty years.
Anyone facing a felony charge for violating PC 25400, would face a lifetime ban from possessing or owning a gun unless you restore your rights.
Expungement and Restoring the Rights to Possess or Own a Gun
If you get probation for violating PC 25400, you can expunge your criminal records after completing the required probation period. Expungement means that your criminal records are erased and cannot be revealed during employment disclosure. However, your plea to expunge your criminal records can be denied if you do not adhere to your probation conditions.
Suppose you face a felony in a wobbler charge. In that case, you can restore your firearms rights by petitioning the court to reduce your felony charges to a misdemeanor and filing a petition to dismiss your charges.
In case you do not recover your gun rights using the two-step process, the only way to successfully restore these rights is through a Governor’s pardon. You can obtain a California rehabilitation certificate or get a direct governor’s pardon if you no longer live within California.
Please note that you cannot get a governor’s pardon once you are convicted for a felony offense involving a dangerous weapon. In California, a dangerous weapon is described as any object capable of killing or inflicting significant bodily injuries on a victim. Therefore, concealable weapons fall under the category of dangerous weapons.
How Carrying a Concealed Firearm Becomes Constitutional in California
You can carry a weapon outside your home in California by obtaining a “carrying a concealed firearm permit or carry.” You should show that you have a good cause to argue that you need to have a weapon. There are many requirements needed in getting this permit, as described under PC 26150 or 26155.
How to Defend Yourself Against Charges Under PC 25400
Your attorney can employ several legal defenses while representing you in court for your PC 25400 charges. A skilled attorney should use relevant legal arguments that are related to the charges at hand. Let’s have a closer look at the legal defenses that your lawyer can present to the court.
False accusation is a common legal argument that you can raise in any case. False accusation means that someone is trying to frame you for an offense that you did not do or were not involved in. This is likely if someone intends to settle a grudge with you by falsely accusing you of carrying a concealed gun to have you arrested and arraigned in court.
Suppose your arrest was based on a false accusation. You could disapprove of the allegations by showing that you were not involved in the offense through witness statements and other means to help you fight these allegations.
You Were Unaware of the Gun
If you know about the concealed gun, you will be held liable for PC 25400. However, you are guilty of these allegations if you were not aware of the weapon. Most likely, someone must have placed the gun in your briefcase, jacket, or pocket without your knowledge. You might also have taken another person’s briefcase or jacket without knowing about the gun’s presence, as in the case described above.
In such a situation, you should sufficiently prove to the court that you were unaware of the gun’s presence to use this legal defense.
Your Gun was Inside a Container or Your Vehicle’s Trunk
You are innocent of any allegations under PC 25400 if the weapon was concealed in your car’s trunk or a sealed container within your vehicle. Please note, your car’s glove compartment does not include in the sealed container.
Therefore, if the arresting officer found the gun in those places, the court will have no other choice but to dismiss your case.
You are a Licensed Concealed Firearm Carrier
Licensed gun carriers in California can carry a concealed weapon without violating PC 25400. If you are a licensed gun carrier, you must produce a valid license to the court that proves your authorization.
The Firearm Was Concealed Within Your House or Business Premises
In case you have the authorization to own or possess a firearm, you can carry a concealed firearm in your residence or business premises.
Please note that your business premises should not necessarily be a place that you often work in. Also, this rule does not include people living and working inside their vehicles. However, if you are a taxi driver and keep a concealed weapon in your car, you will not be violating PC 25400 since the taxi-cab is perceived as your business premises.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The United States Fourth Amendment prohibits any actions of illegal search and seizure. If the concealed gun was found during an unlawful search and seizure, the court would most likely dismiss the charges. Most law enforcement officers engage in illegal search and seizure when they see an illegally parked car or when they frisk you and find a concealed firearm.
The officers would be conducting an illegal search and seizure since they do not have a probable reason to frisk you or search your premises, a legitimate search warrant, and probably you did not consent to the search.
It is possible to fight your charges using self-defense as your legal defense. However, you must have a reasonable belief you were in grave risk even after obtaining a court-ordered restraining order against the person posing the threats to use this legal argument. Once you have managed to prove this fact, the court might decide to dismiss your case.
There are different ways that the police can engage in misconduct. Some of these ways include:
- Planting a concealed gun in your vehicle or on you
- Lying that you were carrying a concealed firearm while you were carrying it openly
- Giving false testimonies about your case
- Coercing you to confess that you committed the offense
If you can prove any kind of police misbehave during your arrest or interrogation, your lawyer should run a Pitchess motion. The motion will provide an opportunity to investigate the officer and check whether there are prior allegations connected to the police’s misconduct. Once you have established that you are a victim of police misconduct, and the officer has previous incidents of misconduct, the court might decide to dismiss your case.
Reasons Why You Should Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Many complicated requirements follow once you are arrested for carrying a concealed firearm in California. Therefore, it is suitable to hire an attorney to help you in your case. Hiring an attorney can benefit you in different ways that you cannot manage to do by yourself. Here is a closer look at why you should hire a criminal defense attorney.
Your Attorney Can Influence the Discretion of a Prosecutor
During the pre-filing investigation, your prosecutor can file serious charges against you, depending on the early investigation made by the police. The prosecutor can file aggressive charges against you if you do not have an attorney to represent you. However, an experienced lawyer will monitor the prosecutor and ensure that there are no outrageous charges made against you.
An Attorney Can Speak to Law Enforcement Better than You Could Do
The police might try to speak to you before any criminal charges are made against you. The officers might try to speak informally and try to have you confess to the allegations. They might appear to be casual and even tell you that they are on your side only to turn against you in court. However, with the help of an attorney, you can avoid such situations since he or she will be speaking on your behalf.
An Attorney will Continuously Monitor Your Status
Pre-filing investigations usually take a long time and can go for weeks or months before the criminal charges are filed against you. If you have an attorney on your side, he or she will keep in touch with the proceeding of your case and keep you updated.
An Attorney will Explain Your Charges
Sometimes people are subjected to charges that they do not know. However, with the familiarity of the law that attorneys have, you can be confident that no legal aspects will pass without your knowledge. An attorney will be able to deal with all legal professionals and elements involved in your case to get the best results more than you could do.
Your Attorney Can Build Better Legal Defenses Compared With You
The basis of hiring an attorney is to build a strong defense against the allegations presented against you. The more time an attorney has, the better the arguments they will build against your case. Therefore, you need to hire one once you have been arrested to ensure that there is ample time to prepare for your case.
Your Attorney Can Investigate Into Your Charges and Have Them Reduced or Dismissed
An attorney should do his or her research once a client has hired him or her. Based on their years of experience, they can manage to pinpoint different aspects that would greatly influence the proceeding of your case. These new facts presented by the attorney might prompt the court to dismiss the case or reduce the charges.
Confidence In Your Case
Working with an attorney usually guarantees confidence in your case. A professional attorney should be able to answer any questions that you present and help you plan accordingly based on a reasonable assessment of your situation.
An Attorney will Negotiate the Best Outcomes
The main objective of an attorney is to get the best results for your case. Therefore, each step that he or she takes is geared towards getting the best possible outcomes. It is hard to achieve the kind of results that an attorney can manage to get hence the need to get one as soon as you are arrested.
Hiring an Attorney Reduces the Chances of Doing the Wrong Thing
If you decide to handle a case all by yourself, you might end up filing the wrong documents or follow the incorrect procedure. This might affect your lawsuit significantly and make you miss your deadlines as well. Late filings might lead to additional charges or unexpected delays in your case.
Find a Criminal Defense Law Firm Near Me
Turning your case into a success involves many factors. It takes a professional attorney to handle every aspect involved in your case and get the best outcome. At Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we deliver unmatched legal services to anyone facing allegations for carrying a concealed firearm and other related gun offenses. Contact us today at 714-740-7848 and learn more about us and how we can help you with your case.