California Penal Code 12031: What Are the Penalties and Some Common Defenses for Carrying a Loaded Firearm?
A person has violated California Penal Code 12031 when he or she is carrying a loaded firearm while in any public place or street in a prohibited area. There are four elements to meet to satisfy California Penal Code 12031. They are:
- Loaded – The person possessing the firearm must be loaded at the time. The state may still convict a person for possessing a loaded firearm even if it’s not working.
- Firearm – Firearms in California are defined as a device used as a weapon. There are numerous types of firearms. Some common ones are: pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, tasers, pellet guns, BB guns, and rockets.
- Public Place – A public place is defined as an area that is open to the public without any difficulty for entry.
- Forbidden Area – A prohibited area is defined as any place forbidden to set a firearm off.
The four common defenses to California Penal Code 12031 are 1) The person had no knowledge of possessing the firearm 2) The weapon was not loaded 3) The person did not possess the firearm/weapon in a public place in a forbidden area. 4) Police misconduct. California Penal Code 12031 doesn’t apply to 1) Peace officers 2) members of the military 3) Vehicle guards 4) Federal officers 5) Permits to possess a firearm.
A person possessing a loaded firearm/weapon on them or in a vehicle is considered to be a misdemeanor. The person will face probation, maximum sentence of one year in county jail, and a fine up to $1,000. However, Penal Code 12031 is considered to be a wobbler as well. This law becomes a wobbler whenever the person possess the firearm and 1) The person in the past was convicted of a misdemeanor crime for property or drugs and 2) The person is not a registered owner of a loaded firearm.
California Penal Code 12025: What Are the Penalties and the Common Defenses for Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
California Penal Code 12025 puts a person responsible for carrying a concealed weapon with them or in a vehicle. A weapon is defined pursuant to California Penal Code 12025 as any device designed to be used as a weapon from which is expelled through a barrel by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion. A person is guilty of a concealed weapon when the person 1) Carries the weapon in a vehicle that is under their control such as pistols, revolver, or other related weapons 2) Carries the weapon upon the person 3) The person has carried the concealed weapon in a vehicle which the person is the holder of the weapon.
The eight common defenses to California Penal Code 12025 are:
- Lack of knowledge of carrying the weapon- Lack of knowledge is a defense to carrying a weapon, the person will not be guilty pursuant to California Penal Code 12025.
- The weapon was in the trunk or some other locked compartment- If the person is legally able to carry a firearm, then the person is not guilty under California Penal Code 12025 if it’s carried in the trunk of the car or another locked compartment.
- The person has a license to carry a concealed weapon- A person who has a license to carry a concealed weapon is not guilty under California Penal Code 12025.
- The weapon was not concealed, however it was carried in plain view.
- The concealed weapon was within your home or place of business- If the person is entitled to the concealed weapon, then the person is free to carry the weapon in their home or place of business.
- The weapon was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure- An officer can only legally obtain the persons weapon through 1) probable cause to search 2) Have a valid search warrant 3) The person has given consent to search the person or their property.
- The person carried the weapon in self-defense- The person must reasonably believe their life is in danger because of other people’s actions such as threats. Ultimately, the person would not be guilty under California Penal Code 12025.
- Police Misconduct- If the police officer was angry, or used improper power by planting a concealed weapon in the person’s car, then the officer is guilty of police misconduct.
The penalties under California Penal Code 12025 are 16 months or two to three years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Firearm offenses or charges under California’s gun laws are a serious matter that requires the help of an expert San Diego criminal defense attorney. Bradley R. Corbett is a lawyer with vast experience in defending gun law violation cases.
California has many laws relating to firearms. There are laws that restrict certain types of firearms from ownership, handling, and selling. If you were to try and navigate the convoluted and ever-changing waters of California’s gun laws alone, you would most likely sink. The San Diego lawyers at the Law Office of Bradley R. Corbett are familiar with these laws and, more importantly, have successfully defended their clients before in these situations.
What Penalties Could I Face When Charged With a Firearm Offense?
The answer to this question depends on a few things. First, a judge in a firearm offense case will look at whether the offense is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Obviously, a misdemeanor will carry a lighter penalty. The judge will also look at the type of firearm used, your criminal background, and whether you are subject to firearm sentencing enhancements. These sentencing enhancements can add time to your prison sentence or increase the fine you may have to pay. Depending on the severity of the charge, you could face anywhere from 1-3 years in prison with a $1,000 fine to 25 years-to-life in prison with a $10,000 or more fine.
Don’t leave your freedom to chance. Call or visit our expert San Diego criminal defense attorneys to learn more about California’s gun laws and how we can help protect your freedom.