Charges for Using a Firearm
In addition to restrictions on when you can carry or possess a weapon, there are laws that dictate when you can and cannot use a firearm. Many of these are crimes that carry serious penalties, including long periods of jail time.
For example, one of the statutes prohibiting use of a firearm is California Penal Code 26100. This law puts criminal sanctions on both the driver and the person who fires a gun in a drive-by shooting.
Other charges for using a firearm are essentially aggravating factors for other criminal charges. For example, California Penal Code 245, which makes it a crime to commit an assault with a firearm, carries significantly higher penalties for the underlying crime of simple assault.
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Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, is a boutique law firm that specializes in defending individuals who have been charged with serious crimes, including weapons offenses in Torrance, CA. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Torrance criminal defense attorney who can fight for you.
What is a Weapons Charge and What are the Penalties Associated?
A weapons charge is a criminal offense that occurs when an individual uses or possesses a weapon in a manner that is illegal under federal, state, and local laws. The penalties for a weapons charge can vary depending on the type of weapon involved and the circumstances of the offense, but they range from simple fines to prison sentences. In some cases, a weapons charge may also result in the loss of the individual’s right to possess or carry a firearm. Weapons charges are typically felonies, which means that they can have a significant impact on an individual’s life.
Potential penalties for weapons charges can include:
- Fines: Weapons charges can result in fines ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the severity of the charges.
- Probation: Probation is a sentence that requires an individual to adhere to certain conditions, such as meeting with a probation officer and refraining from criminal activity. Probation sentences can last for a few months or several years.
- Jail time: Weapons charges can result in jail sentences ranging from a few days to several years. Sometimes, an individual may be eligible for parole after serving a portion of their sentence.
- Loss of firearms rights: Individuals convicted of certain weapons offenses may be prohibited from possessing or carrying firearms.
If you face charges for a crime involving a weapon, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can investigate the charges against you and help you navigate the criminal justice system.
Given the long history and pervasive nature of gun violence and gun-related deaths in Los Angeles, particularly relating to street gangs and inner-city homicides, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office aggressively, thoroughly and zealously prosecutes gun and weapons cases. With the California Penal Code (CPC) in its arsenal, the prosecution will do everything in its power to meet every element of the offense codified in the CPC to secure your conviction.
In the Penal Code, guns are referred to as firearms. A firearm is any device designed to be used as a weapon, from which a projectile is discharged or expelled through a barrel by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion. These include handguns, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, undetectable firearms, a firearm that is not immediately recognizable as a firearm, unconventional pistols, cane guns, wallet guns and zip guns.
It is also illegal to use or unlawfully carry non-projectile weapons, such as ballistic knives, belt buckle knives, lipstick case knives, cane swords, air gauge knives, writing pen knives, nunchucks, brass knuckles, leaded canes, metal military practice hand grenades or metal replica hand grenades, slingshots and billy clubs. However, weapons can also be “objects capable of innocent use” if they were used or carried to be used as weapons.
California strictly regulates who can lawfully own and operate a firearm. For example, it is illegal for any private citizen to own automatic weapons. And certain citizens such as convicted felons, mental patients and subjects of protective or “stay-away” orders are prohibited from owning firearms at all.
If you committed a crime with a gun or firearm, you will probably be subject to incarceration in county jail or state prison. Additionally, you may have to pay exorbitant fines and your criminal record will reflect the conviction(s).
The attorneys at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, know what’s at stake when you are facing firearms or weapons charges. Listed in Super Lawyers and a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, Robert Ernenwein has aggressively and successfully defended people charged with gun or weapons charges. For many years, we have achieved acquittal, dismissal and reduction of charges in hundreds of cases, even for those that were seemingly impossible to beat.
Other California Weapons Charges
No matter where you are in the country, you may face severe punishment for brandishing or using a weapon such as a gun. However, California weapons laws are especially strict, and weapons charges must be taken seriously.
There are many types of weapons charges in California. The most well-known of these charges involve firearms and include unlawful possession, discharging a gun with gross negligence, selling a firearm illegally, using a firearm in committing a homicide or other crime, and many more.
There are also California weapons laws regarding items other than guns. Possessing or using dangerous weapons also can be illegal. These include:
- Brass knuckles
- Baseball bats
- Martial arts weapons
California weapons charges are often considered felonies. If convicted of a felony, you will not only be prevented from bearing arms ever again, but you will also be subject to a prison term and hefty fines. A felony conviction can make finding a job impossible and tear apart your family.
If you or a family member is being investigated for a weapons-related crime in California, now is the time to contact our experienced Torrance criminal defense attorneys at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP. A knowledgeable lawyer can argue for a reduced charge or lesser penalty, but they cannot help you if you do not call.
Torrance Criminal Defense Lawyer: Carrying A Concealed Weapon
“Doesn’t the second amendment give me the right to bear arms? Why was I arrested for carrying a concealed weapon?”
These questions might be going through your mind, if you have been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Torrance, CA. There is often confusion regarding gun laws and what is and is not considered legal. If you are uncertain about California gun restrictions, you have come to the right place.
While the meaning of the second amendment is heavily debated especially between anti-gun groups and the National Rifle Association, our state law does make it clear what its stance is on weapons. According to California Penal Code Section 12025 PC, it is a crime to carry a concealed weapon in your vehicle or “on your person.”
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Defenses to Firearm Charges in California
Just because you have been charged with possessing or using a firearm does not mean you will be convicted or that you must plead guilty. Raising effective legal defenses to the criminal firearms charges being levied against you is the only way to fight back, protect your rights and avoid the severe penalties that often come with a conviction.
The possible defenses to weapons charges depend on the facts of the case and the applicable laws. Some of the most common defenses include:
- The weapon was not a firearm: To be convicted of a firearms offense, the government must prove that the weapon was actually a firearm. Sometimes, an officer may mistake a BB gun or pellet gun for a real firearm. This can lead to an individual being charged with a firearms offense even though the weapon was not actually a firearm. An attorney can show that the weapon was not a firearm.
- The individual did not know the weapon was a firearm: In some cases, an individual may be charged with a firearms offense even though they did not know that the weapon was a firearm. For example, an individual may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm if they inherit a firearm from a family member and are unaware that the firearm is illegal. An attorney can prove that the individual did not know the weapon was a firearm.
- The individual did not possess the weapon: In some cases, an individual may be charged with a firearms offense even though they did not actually possess the weapon. For example, an individual may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm if the firearm is found in a car that the individual was driving. An attorney can convince a jury that the individual did not actually possess the weapon.
- The weapon was not operable: To be convicted of a firearms offense, the government must prove that the weapon was operable. Sometimes, an individual may own an antique firearm that is not operable. Other times, an individual may be in possession of a firearm that has been modified to make it inoperable. An attorney can show that the weapon being possessed poses no danger due to its inability to be fired.
- The police entrapped the individual: Entrapment occurs when the police induce an individual to commit a crime that the individual would not have otherwise committed. For example, an undercover police officer may try to sell an individual a firearm even though the individual has no intention of buying a firearm. If the individual buys the firearm, they may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. An attorney can prove that the police entrapped the individual.
- Self-Defense: An effective legal defense to a criminal charge of using a firearm is that you used it for self-defense. California’s self-defense law allows you to defend yourself with reasonable force if you have a reasonable belief that your life is in grave danger.
- You Have A Permit To Carry A Gun: One of the most common defenses that people in California have to a charge of possessing a firearm is that they are legally permitted to do so. Proving that you have a valid permit to possess or carry a firearm and that you were abiding by the rules of this permit can be a defense against a criminal accusation that you were violating the law.
- Lack Of Knowledge: Firearm possession laws require you to know that you were carrying a gun at the time of your arrest. If you were unaware that you were carrying your weapon, for example, or a friend left their gun in your car and the police found it when you got pulled over, lack of knowledge can be an effective defense to a charge of possession of a firearm.
- Illegal Search Or Seizure: Finally, a defense that can always be raised to a criminal accusation, including for a firearms or weapons charge, is that the police found evidence during a search or seizure that violated your constitutional rights against unlawful search or seizure. If successful, this defense can prevent the prosecutor from introducing illegally obtained evidence in your trial. This can make it difficult or impossible for the prosecutor to prove the case against you.
What You Should Know About Concealed Weapons Charges In Torrance, CA
If you are found with a concealed firearm, such as a handgun, you could be looking at jail time, a hefty fine and probation. Even if the firearm doesn’t work, you could still be found guilty of violating state law.
The prosecution will be looking to prove a couple of things in your case to ensure you pay for your alleged crime. First, they will try to prove that you had a weapon, whether it was in your control or in your vehicle. Second, they will attempt to show that you concealed this weapon in some way. If they are successful, you will be convicted of a crime and will have to pay the consequences.
You should know that you can fight back. Just because you have been accused of breaking the law, doesn’t mean you actually did. It is your right to defend yourself and to hire an experienced Torrance criminal defense lawyer to help you.
Get Advice About Your Case
At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, we have many years of experience defending people who have been accused of crimes. We are former prosecutors who know how to keep our clients out of jail and free of criminal records.
Contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Torrance, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at (310) 361-3068 for a free case review.
Contact Our Torrance Guns, Firearms & Weapons Charges Lawyer Today
Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, a firearm or weapons conviction will go on your criminal record. This may cause you to lose your job or prevent you from getting another one. It can also impact your employment opportunities and consequently jeopardize your family’s financial future.
As former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, Robert Ernenwein knows the criminal process inside out, giving our team a distinct edge when it represents you in court. Our attorneys are well-respected and well-known by Los Angeles prosecutors and judges.
For several years, Robert Ernenwein has been selected for inclusion in California Super Lawyers. He is also certified by the California State Bar of Legal Specialization as a specialist in criminal law and has been a legal commentator for FOX News.
Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, provides representation for clients in all Los Angeles County courts, including Torrance, LAX, Inglewood, Long Beach and Compton. Our attorneys have over 60 combined years of experience doing nothing but criminal defense.
There are defenses available in gun and weapons cases, and we may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. If you have been arrested in Torrance, Los Angeles or Orange County, contact our firm immediately.
Contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Torrance, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at (310) 361-3068 for a free case review.
I’m being charged with personal use of a weapon. I never once fired it.It’s not very hard to violate weapons statutes and laws in California. For example, state law defines “personal use” of a deadly weapon or firearm as intentionally displaying a weapon or firearm in a “menacing” manner, hitting someone with the weapon or firing it. Therefore, even if you intended just to scare someone with a firearm, even if it was a toy or imitation gun, you may still be charged with a crime. You can also be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
How does the presence of a firearm in a crime enhance the penalty for it?
The problem with the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime is that it raises the seriousness of the offense. For example, if you discharged a firearm from a vehicle, intending to kill a person outside of that vehicle, special circumstances will attach to your case by virtue of the gun use. Special circumstances can result in harsher penalties, such as the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.
I was pulled over and the police found a baseball bat in my car. Why am I being charged with possession of a weapon?
You can be charged with carrying a weapon even if it was designed for uses other than violence.
To be convicted on a weapons possession charge, however, a defendant must know that the object is a weapon. If the alleged weapon is capable of innocent uses (in other words, the object is not a weapon “per se” or “on its face”), the prosecution must prove you possessed it “as a weapon.” In those cases, the prosecution may try to use the location of the alleged weapon (in your car, beneath the driver’s seat, on the front passenger seat, glove box, other places where it was easily reachable) to show that you possessed it to be used as a weapon. The prosecution may also show whether the object was changed from its standard form or introduce any other evidence that the object would be used for a dangerous purpose rather than a harmless one.
Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, continues to successfully represent defendants against weapons-related charges, including possession, shooting a firearm, personal use, firearm enhancements, assault with a deadly weapon, and cases where special circumstances apply due to the use of a weapon or firearm.
Do I need a Torrance gun charges attorney attorney?
Yes! Firearms and weapons laws in California are among the most complicated laws in the state. If you have been accused of a firearm crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who is highly knowledgeable in the field of firearm and weapons law. This knowledge and experience can be essential in forming a defense in your case.
For instance, under California Penal Code section 12301(j), a person who “reasonably believes” that his or her property is in immediate danger is permitted to carry a loaded firearm. Also, under Penal Code section 12301(l), any person is permitted to carry a loaded firearm at their place of residence, which includes “any temporary residence.” You are also generally permitted to carry a firearm from a gun shop or to and from a gun range.
There are several other important exceptions to the firearms laws in California, and if you have been charged under these laws, it is always in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney about your rights. At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, your first consultation with an attorney is always free.
Can you help me fight these charges?Absolutely! Considering the severity of the penalties, which include imprisonment, substantial fines and community service, we urge you to contact us and make an appointment immediately.