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 nonprojectile 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.
Let’s go into some of the nuances of California law relating to guns and weapons charges.
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. I never meant to hurt anyone with it; it’s sports equipment. 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 an 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?
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.
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 Los Angeles or Orange County, contact our firm immediately.
Contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at 424-552-3901 for a free case review.