California state allows ownership of firearms if the right legal possession procedures are followed. Stringent laws govern how the guns should be handled, ranging from specifications on which locations you can carry the weapon to guidelines on when you can use or reveal the firearm. Such a law is Penal Code 25400 that prohibits carrying a concealed firearm. Violation of such a law is charged as a criminal offense resulting in frustrating consequences.
Subsequently, a defendant facing charges under Penal Code 25400 needs the guidance and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys at The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney are highly experienced in dealing with criminal defense cases. We know the right steps to take to preserve your best interests throughout all stages of your case. Our services are available to residents of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Reach out to us for quality customer care, professional legal consultations, and more solutions for your legal needs.
Definition of Carrying a Concealed Firearm Per California Law
Carrying a concealed firearm law is elaborated in the Penal Code section 25400 of California law. This offense entails carrying a concealable firearm on you, in your personal belongings such as a purse or briefcase, in your car, or in a vehicle you have control of or in which you will be an occupant. Typically for you to be charged with this crime, the firearm should be significantly hidden.
However, if the firearm is not concealed, your offense will be a violation of another Penal Code 26350, which prohibits carrying a revealed gun in public or outside your vehicle. Even if the weapon is partly hidden and unidentifiable, it is still a breach of Penal Code 25400. For example, a police officer may pull over a young person for over speeding. The officer notices a bulge on the pocket of his shirt that looks like a gun. Even if the officer can recognize a bulging as a firearm, the court will still consider the firearm substantially concealed. This law's role is to avoid infuriating the public as it happens when a gun is revealed.
If you are a licensed gun owner, you can conceal it in businesses that you own or at in your home. Nevertheless, a limitation to this right exists for people who work with their cars, such as taxi drivers. If you hold such a profession and conceal a firearm in your vehicle or store it in the gloves box, you will be violating Penal Code 25400. However, if the gun is adequately hidden in the trunk of your car or locked in a container, then you can legally carry the firearm.
Furthermore, the police possess the authority to arrest you for carrying a concealed firearm offense if they believe that you do not own a gun. However, police officers are restricted from frisking or searching your vehicle without a warrant. If the officer has no search warrant, your consent, or a probable reason to frisk you or search your vehicle, then if they do so, it will be a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Hence any weapon found from an illegal search will be dismissed by the court.
For a police officer to legally search your vehicle, they should provide a probable cause that makes them believe you could be engaged in criminal activities or that you pose a threat to their safety. If not, they should request a California search warrant or your consent.
Finally, you cannot be charged under Penal Code 25400 if you were issued an authentic license permitting you to carry around your concealed weapon. You must prove that your carrying of a concealed handgun was legitimate in such a case. It should be noted that even certified gun owners are bound by conditions restricting and guiding them on how to handle the guns. People who are exempted from stipulates of this law are:
- hunters or fishers who are transporting the firearm for such an activity.
- Bank guards or couriers
- Active and retired peace up-holding officers
- Registered shooting clubs or organizations
Elements of the Carrying A Concealed Firearm Crime
For you to be convicted of carrying a concealed firearm, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You brought a concealable firearm on yourself
- You hid a gun in your car or a vehicle you control
- You knew you had the gun with you
- The firearm was substantially concealed
As per Penal Code 16520, a firearm is any weapon that uses ammunition and expels a projectile via a barrel using a combustion force. This crime outlines a firearm as a weapon such as a handgun, a rifle, a revolver, and a pistol. As per Penal Code 25400, a concealable firearm is a firearm that has a barrel of fewer than sixteen inches in length. It includes guns with interchangeable barrels that are less than or sixteen inches long.
Examples of firearms prohibited from being concealed include (but are not limited to) pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and Tasers. Also, rocket-propelled projectiles and other explosive or combustible materials designed for emergency purposes are within this law's scope. However, BB guns and pellets, which rely on pressure or air force to be used, are not firearms within this law's scope.
Regardless of whether the firearm concealed is loaded or not loaded, it can still be carrying a concealed firearm offense. The court will consider such a situation as part of the crime because it can still pass threats or instill fear, even when it is not loaded. The victim of such an event would not know that the gun is not loaded.
Secondly, the firearm must be concealed for you to be charged with this crime. A gun is “concealed” if it is partly or wholly out of sight. Therefore, even if the weapon is only partially hidden and can still be seen, it is still a Penal Code 25400 violation. Consequently, if the firearm is in your bag, your pocket, or the glove compartment of your car, it will be considered a violation of the law.
However, if you hold the gun freely without hiding it, you cannot be charged with this crime; you will be charged for revealing the firearm if applicable. Moreover, you cannot be accused of the crime if you holster the gun on your belt, as this is not considered substantially concealing as per the crime's purposes.
Physical Possession of the Gun
The next element requires the gun to be in your physical possession for you to be charged with the crime. Tucking a gun onto your trousers, in your pocket, or in a backpack you are carrying is physical possession is charged under Penal Code 25400. Also, the crime includes hiding a firearm in a vehicle you will be occupying.
Knowledge on Presence of the Gun
The prosecutor must prove that you were aware that you had a firearm in your possession. Intentionally putting the weapon in your car without safely locking it up or concealing it in a vehicle that you will be an occupant of is a violation of the law. If you can prove that you did not know the gun was on you or in your belongings, you cannot face liability for violating Penal Code 25400. This element ensures that defendants are not convicted for offenses they did not intentionally commit.
Penalties of Carrying A Concealed Firearm
The nature of charges the prosecutor will file against you depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Without aggravating circumstances or factors, a charge of Penal Code 25400 violation is a misdemeanor in California. Breaching Penal Code 25400 charged as a misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of a one-year county jail term, a $1,000 fine, or both.
The judge may also grant you misdemeanor probation. If you are given probation, you only serve some of the jail term or none at all. The decision to grant probation is influenced by factors such as a defendant's criminal record, establishing whether you intentionally concealed the firearm, your motives for concealing it and whether you portrayed violence or compliance during the arrest.
Aggravating factors that lead to felony charges under Penal Code 25400 are if:
- You are a member of a gang that is involved in criminal activities.
- Hold a past felony conviction or a conviction related to firearms.
- You possess a gun illegally without a license or the owner's permission.
- You are subject to a restriction from owning a firearm.
- You hold a criminal record of violent crimes.
- You are under a temporary or permanent restraining order.
Consequently, if you are found guilty of a felony offense under Penal Code 25400, the penalty will be a maximum jail term of one year, including probation or a county jail term of up to three years. You can also be required to pay a fine penalty of $10,000.
It is also possible for Penal Code 25400 violation to be a wobbler crime. You can face wobbler charges if your firearm was loaded or if you could easily access ammunition. Suppose you are not a licensed gun owner or had previously been convicted of lethal drug crimes or misdemeanor crimes against property or individuals. In that case, your offense will be a wobbler. As defined under California law, a wobbler is a crime under which the prosecutor can file either felony charges or misdemeanors against you. The charge you face is dependent on the specifics of the case and whether you hold a past criminal record.
Moreover, a Penal Code 25400 wobbler charged as a misdemeanor charge will carry a penalty of a one-year county jail term or a fine of $1,000. If you are accused of a felony, your punishment can be probation and a one-year county jail term, or 16months to two or three years in jail or a maximum fine of $10,000. The mandatory minimum sentence of carrying a concealed firearm is at least three months.
Additional penalties can be the loss of your gun-owning rights. A felony conviction for carrying a concealed firearm has a penalty of revocation of gun-owning privileges for life. If your gun rights are revoked due to a felony conviction involving a lethal weapon, you do not stand a chance of having them restored.
However, a wobbler charged as a felony leads to the revocation of your gun-owning rights. For your gun-owning rights to be restored, you must file a petition to reduce the crime to a minor offense. After that, you can file an appeal for dismissal of the charges. If this process is successful, then your gun rights will be restored. Alternatively, you can request a pardon from the Governor. A Governor's acquittal will be illegible if you remain within California and obtain a certificate of rehabilitation.
Furthermore, carrying a concealed firearm is a criminal offense; it can be a deportable crime for non-California citizens. Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to evade such collateral consequences and settle for less severe penalties.
Finally, anyone who has a prior conviction of a crime involving a firearm and is currently found guilty of violating Penal Code 25400 will serve an imprisonment of three months minimum. A previous conviction of a firearm crime such as assault with a deadly weapon or similar crimes will face a punishment of a 3 to 6 months term.
Expunging of a Criminal Record
Fortunately, if a defendant is granted probation as the penalty for carrying a concealed firearm, their criminal record can be erased. Expunging a criminal record is possible if you successfully go through the probation period without violating its terms. Once your criminal record is sealed, your gun rights will remain revoked as a measure to prevent you from committing similar offenses in the future. Expunged criminal records disable any disclosure of your past criminal record during employment or application for housing plans.
Possible Defenses to Carrying A Concealed Firearm
Defenses are the legal arguments made by your attorney to help defend you against the prosecutor's charges. Typically the angle your attorney will take to protect you depends on the circumstances of your case. You must tell your attorney all the details of the events that led to your apprehension. Pieces of information that you may deem not necessary can be of significant impact on strengthening your defense. Some appropriate options to fighting Penal Code 25400 charges are:
- The Firearm Was Uncovered during an Illegal Search, or Frisk - As explained earlier on. If the police frisk you without a probable cause or search your car and discover a concealed firearm, your attorney can request the evidence to be inadmissible. Frisking or searching a person’s car without a probable cause or a permit is police misconduct and a violation of your rights.
- Exception from Charges Under the Crime - You cannot be prosecuted under Penal Code 25400 if your case does not fit into this crime's elements. Your attorney can negotiate for other charges with less severe penalties.
- Legal Permit to Transport a Firearm – possessing a legal certification to carry a concealed weapon exempts you from penalties of breaking Penal Code 25400. It includes licensed hunters, police officers, soldiers, or any other persons exempted from this law's restrictions. You must provide valid documents to prove that you are legally exempted from this law.
- A Safely Locked Away Gun - You cannot face charges under Penal Code 25400 if your weapon is safely locked away in your car. You could employ this defense if you locked the firearm in a container or your car trunk. However, having the gun concealed in your car's glove box is an exception and can be considered breaching this law's stipulations.
- You Did Not Know You Possessed the Firearm - Knowledge that you had the concealed gun with you is an essential element in Penal Code 25400 charges. Consequently, if you can prove that you were not aware of the gun's presence in your purse, car, or briefcase, you cannot be guilty.
- False Accusation - If the firearm was planted in your car or your belongings without your knowledge, you could not be charged with breaching Penal Code 25400. The same applies if an officer gives a false report to incriminate you, or if they coerce or threaten you to confess to committing the crime. The person being apprehended has a right not to say anything that could be used against them in court. Therefore coercion to admit to committing a crime is a violation of one's rights. If you suspect police misconduct led to your prosecution, you should inform your lawyer. The court can dismiss the charges made against you or rule you not guilty of a trial charge.
- The firearm Was for Purposes of Self Defense - California self-defense law allows people who feel that they are in danger of immediate physical harm to defend themselves. Consequently, your attorney can argue that you took the gun for self-defense. You must prove that you were in imminent danger of physical harm or were protecting someone from such a threat in such a situation. The laws are stringent on claims of self-defense.
Related Crimes to Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Some crimes are not under Penal Code 25400 but can be charged in line with this crime's violation. Facing multiple charges aggravates your penalties. Some of the crimes related to carrying a concealed firearm are:
Possession of an Unregistered Firearm
The penal code 25850 restricts one from having an unregistered firearm in a public place, whether it is a loaded or unloaded firearm. Merely possessing an unregistered firearm in your home is not a chargeable crime. It becomes a law violation when you take it outside your premises. It includes carrying the firearm in a public vehicle, carrying it on you, or having it in your car in an incorporated city or public street. Possession of an unregistered firearm in public is charged as a felony. The penalty for violating this law is a one-year county jail term or a fine of up to $1,000.
Carrying of a Loaded Firearm in Public
Penal Code 12031 of the California law prohibits people from carrying a loaded firearm on them, their personal belongings, or their vehicle while in public, an incorporated city, or in a place where it is unlawful to discharge a firearm. Violation of this law, you will face felony charges which will be included in your criminal record. Consequently, this will affect your gun-owning rights. The penalty for violation of this law is similar to that of carrying a concealed firearm. It includes a one-year county jail term and or a fine of $1,000.
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
Penal Code 29800 is generally known as a felon with a firearm law. However, it also applies to certain misdemeanor convictions. The law typically prohibits you from owning or having a firearm if you: a previous conviction of a felony offense, prior two or more misdemeanor convictions of brandishing a weapon, or a narcotic drug addict. It can also apply for those who had a previous federal jail term of more than thirty days or a fine of more than $1,000. The felon's penalties with a firearm offense can be a maximum county jail term of three years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both the fine and jail terms.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Most criminal charges, including charges of violating Penal Code 25400, carry grave and long-term consequences. The importance of having the legal representation and guidance of an experienced criminal attorney cannot be stressed enough. It is a determining factor as to whether your defense case will be successful.
At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney law firm, we understand the importance of high-quality representation in handling the delicate criminal court proceedings. Our attorneys possess years of experience handling criminal court case proceedings. Our law firm is based in Los Angeles in California. Reach out to us for free consultations and other personalized legal services. For more information about our law firm and the services we offer, contact us at 310-564-2605.