California Penal Code 25400 defines the crime of carrying a concealed firearm as carrying any dischargeable weapon in your vehicle or on your body. Although carrying a concealed gun is a misdemeanor, it is still a gun offense, and some factors could aggravate the charge into a severe felony. Whether you face charges for a felony or a misdemeanor, a conviction for this offense could attract severe penalties like serving prison time and paying fines.
If you or a loved one faces charges for this offense, seeking legal guidance would be one of the wisest decisions. Your attorney will help you collect the evidence to support your version of events and build a solid defense to fight the charges while protecting your constitutional rights. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we offer legal guidance and representation for all our clients facing criminal charges to ensure a positive case outcome.
Overview of California Penal Code
California laws on firearms and weapons are complex. Generally, it is a crime to carry a loaded, concealed gun in a public place without a license to carry the concealed weapon. You can face an arrest and charges for violating PC 25400 if you carry a firearm capable of being hidden within the body or your vehicle.
Before you face a conviction for this offense, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
You Concealed a Firearm in a Vehicle or on Your Person
If you carry a weapon in plain view, you will not be charged with carrying a concealed weapon. However, you may be prosecuted under PC 26350, which prohibits the act of carrying an exposed firearm in a public place. When proving your guilt under this statute, it must be clear that the gun is at least partially concealed. Whether the firearm is identifiable will not affect the prosecutor's attempt to prove this element in court.
Under PC 25400, a firearm could be any device designed to be used as a weapon through expulsion or projectile force. This could also include a rocket-propelled launcher containing explosive material. Firearms under this statute are:
You Knew That You Had A Concealed Gun
The requirement that you carry a concealed weapon means that you were in physical possession of the concealed weapon at the time of the arrest. You can be convicted for this offense if the firearm is on your body or in something you held. Also, carrying a gun in a vehicle as a passenger will constitute this element.
Before you face a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm in California, the prosecutor must prove that you were aware of the presence of the gun. You cannot be convicted for something you did not know. For example, if you grab a bag that resembles yours and a firearm in it, you cannot be found guilty of the offense. These elements help people face wrongful convictions for crimes they did not intentionally commit.
Legal Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in California
In California, the penalties of carrying a concealed firearm vary depending on the extent of the crime you committed. The offense can be charged as a straight felony, a misdemeanor, or a wobbler. This will depend on the circumstances of the case and your criminal history. When there are no aggravating factors or prior convictions, California courts charge PC 25400 as a misdemeanor. When charged as a misdemeanor, carrying a concealed firearm attracts a one-year jail sentence and fines of up to $1,000.
The judge may sentence you to misdemeanor probation as an alternative to jail time. Probation allows you to serve a part of your sentence out of jail. However, there are some conditions that you must follow while on probation. Failure to follow probation conditions may result in reinstatement of the jail sentence. Some of the factors that the court may consider when deciding to offer you probation may include your criminal history, whether or not you intended to use the firearm and your level of co-operation with the police during the arrest.
Carrying a concealed weapon may be treated as a felony under the following circumstances:
- You have a firearm-related felony conviction in your record.
- You carried a concealed firearm intending to enhance gang activities.
- You were carrying a stolen firearm.
- You possessed the alleged firearm illegally.
- You have a prior drug-related conviction.
- You are prohibited from carrying a firearm after a restraining order or a conviction.
- The concealed firearm was loaded, and you were not the legitimate owner.
- You are prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm for attempting to commit a violent felony like murder, robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking, among others.
As a felony, CPC 25400 attracts the following penalties:
- A prison sentence ranging from sixteen months to three years.
- Felony probation. In California, felony probation is different from misdemeanor probation. If the court sentences you to probation instead of jail time after a felony conviction, you will be required to check in with your probation officer regularly.
- Up to $10,000 in fines.
Carrying a concealed firearm becomes a wobbler when you have a previous conviction for a drug-related crime or violence against another person. Also, you can face Wobbler PC 25400 charges when you are not a registered gun owner. Having a wobbler charge means that the prosecutor can file felony or misdemeanor charges at their discretion.
If you face a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm and have a prior conviction for any firearm-related felony, you will be required to serve a three months minimum jail sentence. If your prior convictions involve crimes like an assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a weapon, and shooting in inhabited areas, you must serve a six-month sentence.
If you are an immigrant in the United States, a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm under CPC 25400, you risk facing severe immigration consequences. This could include deportation or be rendered inadmissible. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal guidance if you or your loved one faces these charges.
Will I Lose my Right to Possess or Own a Firearm after a PC 25400 Conviction?
Unless you are declared a ward of the juvenile court, a misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed firearm will not affect your gun rights. In that case, wards of the court will not be allowed to purchase or use a firearm until thirty years. If you face a felony conviction for violating this statute, you will receive a lifetime ban on the use of firearms. The lifetime ban applies to adults and minors who face a transfer to adult court.
After a felony wobbler conviction, you may need to undergo the following steps to restore your gun rights:
- File a petition with the court to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor.
- Petition to have your criminal charges dismissed.
If the above approach is unsuccessful, you can restore your gun rights by seeking a governor's pardon. You can do this by obtaining a rehabilitation certificate or by applying for a direct pardon from the governor. It is essential to understand that the governor's pardon may not restore your gun rights if you are convicted of using a dangerous weapon that can cause serious bodily injury to another person.
Who is Exempt from Prosecution under PC 25400?
In California, some individuals are exempt from prosecution for carrying a concealed firearm, and they include:
- Licensed firearm dealers.
- U.S Military members.
- Bank messengers and bodyguards. Members of target shooting organizations or clubs.
- Active or honorably retired peace officers.
- Licensed fishers or hunters transport their weapons for these activities.
Even when you fall under the exempted groups, it is crucial to understand that each category has conditions that you must follow. Therefore, it would always be helpful to consult with a criminal defense attorney when you face charges under this statute.
Defenses against California Penal Code 25400
You can face charges for carrying a concealed firearm even when it is inoperable. There is no requirement for the prosecutor to prove that the firearm was functional. It is challenging to defend against carrying a concealed weapon since you can be convicted even when the weapon outline is visible under your clothes. However, facing an arrest and charges does guarantee that the prosecution will obtain a conviction. With guidance from a skilled criminal lawyer, you can explore the following legal defenses for your case:
Lack Of Knowledge That You Were Carrying A Firearm
One of the elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove when establishing your guilt under PC 25400 is your knowledge that you had a firearm. This helps avoid wrongful convictions, which arise when another person attempts to frame you by placing the firearm among your property.
The Firearm was in a Locked Container or the Trunk of your Vehicle
You would not be found guilty of carrying a concealed handgun if the firearm was in the trunk of your car or a sealed container. Also, you cannot be charged with this offense if you are legally entitled to own and possess the firearm.
The Weapon Was Within Your Residence Or Business Premise
As long as you are licensed to own a firearm, you are free to have it concealed in your home or within your business premises. However, this rule does not extend to individuals who work and live in their vehicles. However, the law allows taxi-cab drivers to carry a concealed weapon in the car without violating California Penal Code 25400.
The Police Officers Obtained the Gun through an Illegal Search and Seizure
Many firearm-related charges arise when an officer stops you for another type of investigation, and as a result, they find the weapons. California laws protect its residents from unreasonable searches. The police do not have the authority to search your car unless they have:
- A Probable cause. A probable cause is a reasonable belief that you are engaged in criminal activity or pose a threat to the safety of others.
- A valid search warrant authorizes the officer to search your personal property. Also, it is essential to understand that the officers must adhere to the search scope as indicated in the search warrant.
- Your consent to search your vehicle or property.
If your PC 25400 charges are based on the evidence collected in an illegal search and seizure, they cannot be admissible in court. If the arresting officer's testimony was the only evidence, in this case, the court could dismiss the charges.
Claim Police Misconduct
You can use police misconduct as a defense to your case if the police officers do any of the following:
- The officer lies that the gun was concealed when you carried it openly.
- The police planted the weapon on our property.
- Forces you to confess to carrying a concealed weapon.
- The officer violates your rights during the arrest and questioning.
If you suspect that law enforcement engaged in any of the above misconduct, your attorney will help you file a motion to determine whether other defendants have brought a similar claim. If you can prove to the court that you are a victim of police misconduct, they could dismiss your case.
You Carried the Firearm for Self Defense
You can fight charges for carrying a concealed weapon by claiming that you acted in self-defense. This defense strategy may be helpful if you reasonably believe that you or another person's life is in danger.
Offenses Related to Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Due to the potential harm, you may cause when carrying a firearm in a public place, violation of gun offenses attracts severe penalties in California. When you face charges for carrying a concealed firearm, there are other gun-related offenses that the prosecutor can charge you with, including:
Carrying a Loaded Firearm in a Public Place
It is a criminal offense to carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle or person. Carrying a loaded firearm in public is a severe offense charged under CPC 25850. For this statute, a public place is considered any location frequently accessed by the public. When you face PC 25850(a) charges, there are other offenses that the prosecutor could charge you with, including:
- Carrying a firearm while you are an active participant in gang activities.
- Ferrying a stolen gun.
- Carrying a loaded firearm that is not legally registered to your name.
- Unlawful possession of a firearm due to mental illness, a court order, or a consequence of prior convictions.
The elements of the crime that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in your trial are:
- You carried a loaded gun in your vehicle or in person.
- You knew that you had the firearm.
- You took the firearm in a public place.
- The alleged public area was an area where it is illegal to discharge a gun.
Usually, a violation of PC 25850 is a misdemeanor. A conviction for carrying a loaded gun in public as a misdemeanor attracts a one-year jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fines. There are circumstances of your case that could aggravate your charges to a felony, and they include:
- You have a felony criminal conviction in your record.
- You carried the forearm with an intent to participate in gang activities.
- The alleged firearm was stolen.
A conviction for a felony under CPC 25850 attracts a prison sentence ranging between sixteen months to three years. When you face charges under this statute, your attorney could help you explore several defenses available to avoid a conviction or lessen the penalties for this offense.
California Open Carry Gun Laws
You can be arrested and convicted for violating California open carry laws when you carry an exposed and unloaded gun outside a vehicle in a public street or prohibited area. Also, carrying an exposed handgun in a car in public places could result in these charges. Before a prosecutor can establish your guilt under California Penal Code 26350, they must prove the following elements:
- You carried an unloaded and exposed handgun on your body or inside a vehicle.
- You knew that you were carrying the handgun. For California open carry laws, a gun could be any pistol or firearm capable of being concealed. Also, the device must be designed to expel or project a weapon.
- When you carried the handgun, you were in a prohibited area or public street.
When you face charges for carrying a concealed firearm, the prosecutor can prove that the firearm was not hidden, and thus you face charges under this statute.
Violation of California open carry laws is a misdemeanor. A conviction for this offense is punishable by:
- A one-year county jail sentence.
- Fines not exceeding $1,000.
It is crucial to understand that you will face the above penalties for each gun carried. Also, the court could enhance your punishment based on the specific circumstances of your case. For example, if you possessed unexplained ammunition capable of firing the gun, the penalties could be harsher. If you face charges under CPC 26350, you will require the guidance of a competent criminal lawyer.
Brandishing a Weapon
California Penal Code 417 criminalizes brandishing a deadly weapon or a firearm. Brandishing a firearm means drawing and exhibiting a weapon to threaten or harm others for this statue. The prosecutor will establish your guilt for brandishing a gun by proving the following elements of the crime:
- You exhibited or drew a weapon deadly in another person's presence. For this statue, a deadly weapon is any object that is dangerous to the safety of other people.
- You drew the weapon in an angry, rude, and threatening manner. You do not need to point a firearm at another person to be arrested and charged under CPC 417.
- You used the firearm in a fight or quarrel.
- You did not act in self-defense.
Mostly, brandishing a weapon is charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction for the offense is punishable by a one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. If you brandish a weapon on daycare center grounds, your crime is treated as a wobbler. A conviction for a felony, in this case, is punishable by a three years prison sentence. You may also be charged with a felony for brandishing a weapon in front of a peace officer.
Assault With a Firearm
You can be arrested and charged with assault with a firearm when you assault another person using a rifle, shotgun, pistol, or another firearm. The elements that must be clear when establishing your guilt for assault with a firearm include:
- You performed an act that would have naturally resulted in the application of force using a firearm.
- You acted willfully.
- You acted with the knowledge that your actions would result in violence upon other people.
- When you acted, you were presently able to apply force with a firearm on the alleged victim.
Assault with a firearm is a wobbler. You can face felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the kind of firearm you are accused of using. As a misdemeanor, the crime will carry a one-year jail sentence, summary probation, or a fine not exceeding $1,000.On the other hand, a felony conviction may attract a prison sentence of up to four years, formal probation, and fines of ten thousand dollars.
Find a Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Penal Code 25400 makes it a crime to carry a firearm by concealing it within a person or a vehicle under your immediate control. Carrying a concealed firearm is one of California's most heavily persecuted gun offenses. A conviction’s possible consequences are severe when you face felony charges. Fortunately, an arrest for the crime does not mean that you will be convicted.
When you face an arrest and charges for carrying a concealed firearm, the legal guidance and representation of a skilled attorney will go a long way for you. Your attorney will help you build a solid defense to fight the charges and avoid a conviction or have your charges lowered. If you or your loved one faces charges under PC 25400 in Riverside, CA, we invite you to contact Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm. Contact us today at 951-946-6366 to discuss your case in depth.