Are you facing weapons charges in California? You’re probably concerned about the potential consequences of a conviction and how it could shape your future. Along with jail time and hefty fines, a gun conviction could result in the loss of certain privileges and make it difficult to secure employment or housing. These are consequences you can’t afford, and for cases you can’t afford to lose, you need the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling.
Our California gun charges lawyers are committed to protecting our clients’ rights and fighting to get them the best outcome possible. If you’ve been charged with a gun crime in the Los Angeles area, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to discuss your case with an experienced weapons charges attorney.
Common Weapons Charges
Our California gun charges lawyers can defend you against a variety of weapons charges, including:
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Possession of a concealed firearm without a permit
- Possession of a firearm on federal property
- Unlawful sale of a firearm without a permit
- Unlawful firearms trafficking
- Unlawfully discharging a firearm
- Brandishing a gun in public
- Carrying a firearm into an airport or plane
- Aggravated assault or battery with a deadly weapon
- Aiding, abetting, or committing a crime with a firearm
In many cases, gun charges coincide with other criminal charges, leading to more severe penalties if convicted. A seasoned defense attorney can develop practical and effective strategies to enforce your rights.
Gun Laws in California
The Second Amendment federally guarantees your right to bear arms, but states can regulate who may own or possess firearms within their borders. California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. The state regulates:
- Gun ownership – Most individuals over 21 can legally own guns in California. If you own or wish to obtain a machine gun, you must have a special permit from the California Department of Justice. Some individuals may be temporarily or permanently prohibited from getting guns, including people who have been convicted of certain crimes, those who have certain mental conditions, and those subject to restraining orders.
- Gun purchases – California imposes a 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases, and prospective buyers must obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate before they can buy. There are also limits on your ability to purchase ammunition and handguns. While you are free to buy as many guns as you like, you can’t buy more than one during any 30-day period.
- Gun sales or gifts – California law prohibits the direct sale of firearms between individuals. If you wish to sell a gun in California, you must go through a licensed firearms dealer. You can legally give firearms as gifts to certain close family members, but only if you give it to a recipient who is legally allowed to possess the gun and submit a report of the transfer to the state.
- Carrying guns – Open carry is prohibited throughout most of California, with limited exceptions for those who live in smaller counties. To obtain a concealed carry permit, California residents over 21 must pass a background check, complete a gun safety course, demonstrate they are of good moral character, and show they have good cause for obtaining the permit. Regardless of permits, guns are never allowed in schools, public buildings, government buildings, airports, and other public transit facilities in California.
- Traveling with guns – Transporting loaded firearms is always a crime in California. If you wish to travel with a handgun, you must ensure that it is unloaded and locked in a fully-enclosed container or compartment that is not accessible from inside the vehicle while in transit. You do not need to lock long guns such as rifles or shotguns in containers unless you intend to travel through a gun-free zone, such as a school zone.
- Gun usage – Under California’s castle doctrine, property owners have no duty to retreat when intruders enter their homes, businesses, or other real property. In addition, property owners who choose to defend themselves with deadly weapons are protected by the presumption that any unlawful intruder presents a deadly threat. However, these protections do have limits. Castle doctrine rights end at the boundaries of the owner’s property, and owners are prohibited from using force that is disproportionate to the reasonable fear of harm.
Penalties for Weapons Convictions in California
A weapons charge conviction in California can result in a range of serious penalties, which vary based on the severity of the offense. These include:
- Misdemeanor weapons offenses – Misdemeanor crimes, such as carrying a firearm without a proper permit, are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Wobbler weapons offenses – Wobbler offenses are misdemeanors that may be prosecuted as felonies at the prosecutor’s discretion. A good example is possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone. Aggravating circumstances, such as if the alleged offender injured someone or had a prior criminal record, could lead the prosecutor to charge the offense as a felony. In most cases, a wobbler offense charged as a felony has a maximum sentence of three years in state prison or county jail.
- Felony gun charges – Felony weapons offenses, such as unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, are punishable by up to three years in county jail or up to life in state prison with or without the possibility of parole. A weapons offense is automatically considered a felony if the accused has a record of felony convictions or allegedly used the weapon to commit certain crimes.
- “Enhanced” felonies – California’s “Use A Gun and You’re Done” or “10-20-Life” gun law enhances the associated penalties when offenders use guns while committing felony offenses like homicide, rape, and kidnapping. A conviction could add 10 years to existing sentences for using a firearm while committing a felony, 20 years for firing the gun, and 25 years for seriously or fatally injuring another person with the gun.
What Your Gun Charges Lawyer Can Do for You
A weapons charges lawyer from the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling can help by:
- Answering questions about the charges you are facing
- Conducting a thorough investigation to uncover evidence for your defense
- Protecting your rights as a gun owner and U.S. citizen or lawful resident
- Offering sound legal advice and strategic insights throughout your case
- Negotiating with prosecutors to have the charges reduced or dismissed
- Representing you in court if your case proceeds to trial
You deserve an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to fight for fair treatment and liberty in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, including Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Burbank, Century City, Los Angeles Airport, Marina Del Rey, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Valencia, West Los Angeles, and Woodlands Hills. Call or contact our law firm today for a free initial consultation.