California law under PC 25400 makes it a crime to carry a concealed, loaded firearm in public. You can only carry a concealed firearm if you have a concealed weapons license. Unlike some states, California restricts the issuance of concealed carry licenses. The police can only issue you with a concealed carry license if you show a good cause that constitutes more than a general concern for your safety. For example, jewelers can prove a good cause because they carry easily transferable merchandise worth thousands of dollars. Carrying a concealed firearm is a crime that attracts hefty fines and jail terms. If you are under investigation for carrying a concealed firearm, you should consult a criminal defense attorney immediately. At the Long Beach Criminal Attorney, we can always help people facing charges under PC 25400 to create a solid defense against their charges.
Carrying A Concealed Firearm — PC 25400
It is a crime under PC 25400 of California law to carry a concealed firearm on your person or in a vehicle. You could violate this statute if you commit certain acts with the following:
- A revolver
- Any other firearm that can be concealed upon a person
Under PC 25400, the prohibited actions include the following:
- Carrying a concealed firearm upon your person
- Carrying a firearm concealed in any vehicle under your direction or control
- Causing a firearm to be carried concealed within any car in which you are a passenger
California has never had an ‘’open-carry’’ exception regarding unloaded firearms since January 1, 2012. Therefore, it is a crime in California to carry an unloaded firearm upon your person in a public place.
Meaning Of ‘’Firearm’’ Under California Law
A firearm is defined under the California Penal Code 16520a. For purposes of PC 25400, a firearm constitutes of:
- A device,
- Meant to be utilized as a weapon,
- From which a projectile is released through a barrel,
- By force of an explosion or other form of combustion
It also constitutes any rocket-propelled projectile launcher or related device with any explosive or incendiary substance if it is for distress or emergency signaling. Under California law, BB and pellet guns do not qualify as firearms. The purpose of gun statutes in California is to protect the public from any possible harm that a concealed firearm could elicit. Usually, you could face charges under PC 25400 even if the concealed firearm is inoperable.
If the prosecutor accuses you of carrying a concealed firearm, Penal Code 25400 requires the prosecutor to prove these elements:
- You concealed a firearm on your person or in a car
- You knew about the presence of the concealed firearm
- The firearm was substantially concealed
The Meaning Of Concealed
You could face charges under PC 25400, provided the firearm is partially hidden. However, you cannot face charges under this statute if you carry a gun in plain view. However, you could be violating Penal Code 26350. You could face charges under PC 26350 if you openly carry an exposed, unloaded firearm outside your car or in a public place.
Carried On The Person
This element generally means that you physically possessed the concealed firearm. It does not matter if the weapon is in something you are holding or on your person. For example, you could carry a concealed gun on your person, even if it is inside a briefcase, in your pocket, a purse, or anything else you are holding.
Being Aware Of The Presence Of The Firearm
The California gun laws, including Penal Code 25400, outline that you must have been aware of the firearm’s presence to face charges. Therefore, you cannot face charges under PC 25400 if you did not know that you carried a firearm. This requirement prohibits prosecutors from convicting suspects falsely of crimes they did not commit intentionally.
Penalties For Carrying A Concealed Firearm
The charges for carrying a concealed firearm depending on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. You could face the following penalties for violating Penal Code 25400:
Misdemeanor Carrying A Concealed Firearm
A violation of Penal Code 25400 without the presence of aggravating factors is a misdemeanor. You could face the following penalties:
- A fine that does not exceed $1,000
- A jail term that does not exceed one year in a county jail
The judge could also grant you misdemeanor or summary probation, whereby you could serve little or no jail term.
Several factors will determine whether you will face a jail term or pay fines. These factors include:
- Failure to cooperate with the police during your arrest
- Your criminal history
- A finding that you intended to use the concealed firearm
- A history of violence
Under some circumstances, a violation of PC 25400 could be a ‘’straight’’ felony or ‘’wobbler’’ offense. This mainly happens if there are aggravating factors. The prosecutor could charge you with a ''straight’’ felony if the following are true:
- You are not allowed to own or possess a firearm under PC 29800, a felon with a firearm law
- You have previously faced a felony conviction or any other California firearm offense conviction
- You are not in lawful possession of the firearm
- The firearm is stolen, and you knew or had reasonable cause to believe that it was stolen
- You are an active participant in a criminal gang
- You are prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm under PC 29900 for committing or attempting to commit violent crimes like robbery, murder, and rape, among others.
If the prosecutor charges you with a felony carrying a concealed firearm, you could face the following penalties under PC 25400:
- A fine that does not exceed $10,000
- A jail term of 16 months, two, or three years in a county jail
- Probation with a jail term that does not exceed one year in a county jail
‘’Wobbler’’ Charges Under California PC 25400
A violation of PC 25400 is a wobbler crime if, in addition to carrying a concealed firearm on your person or vehicle:
- You are not listed as the registered owner of the loaded handgun with the Department of Justice
- Your firearm was loaded, or you had the ammunition in a place you could easily access
- You were previously convicted of a misdemeanor offense against a person or property or a dangerous drug offense
Under the first category, the police would arrest you if they have probable cause to believe that you are not listed with the Department of Justice as the firearm's registered owner. The prosecutor can file a wobbler crime as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances of your offense.
Prior Firearm convictions
If the court convicts you of violating any PC 25400 and you have any prior felony conviction or a conviction for any other firearm crime in California, you must serve a three-month jail term in a county jail. If the court convicts you of any concealed firearm offense and you have a prior conviction of:
- Assault with a deadly weapon —Penal Code 245(a)(1)
- Shooting at an inhabited dwelling house or car— Penal Code 246
- California’s brandishing a weapon law — Penal Code 417
You must serve a jail term of between three and six months in a county jail.
The Immigration Consequences Of A PC 25400 Conviction
A conviction under California PC 25400 could have adverse immigration consequences. For example, if you are an alien or legal immigrant, a conviction under California PC 25400 could result in deportation.
Defenses To Penal Code 25400 Charges
You can use several defenses to fight your PC 25400 charges. Some of the defenses include:
The constitution protects you against police misconduct. The police could be guilty of police misconduct if they do any of the following:
- Violates your civil rights in any way
- Coerces your confession
- Testifies falsely about the facts of your case
- Lies in the police report and says that the gun was hidden when you carried it openly
- Plants a weapon on your person or in your car
Your attorney could run a Pitchess motion if he/she suspects the police officers did any of the above. After receiving the motion, the court will also determine if other people have made similar complaints against the police officers previously. If it is discovered that you are a victim of police misconduct, the jury could find you “not guilty” at trial, or the judge could drop your PC 25400 charges.
You Are A Victim Of Illegal Search And Seizure
Most weapons convictions, including PC 25400 convictions, occur after the law enforcers subject you to some form of investigation. Perhaps you:
- Matched the description of another person who was accused of a crime
- Had your vehicle unlawfully parked
- Were speeding
While the law enforcers are patting you down or speaking with you, they could discover the concealed firearm on your person or vehicle. In California, however, the Fourth Amendment's constitutional rights prohibit law enforcers from carrying out unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, if the police search you, your home, your business, or your vehicle without probable cause or a valid warrant, the law enforcers could have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the law enforcers can only search you if:
- You have consented to the search of your person or property
- They have a valid California search warrant authorizing them to search you or your property
- They have probable cause to search you
Under California law, the firearm discovered and confiscated through unlawful search and seizure is inadmissible in court. However, the judge could dismiss your charges if you can prove that your firearm was discovered through an unlawful search.
The Firearm Was In The Trunk Or A Locked Container In Your Car
You cannot face the charges under PC 25400 of the California law if:
- You are otherwise legally entitled to own or possess a firearm
- Your revolver, pistol, or other firearm was in a locked container or the trunk of your vehicle
Under California law, you have a right to possess a firearm if you legally own it or have the consent of the lawful owner.
You Did Not Know You Were Carrying The Firearm
Being aware of the gun’s presence is necessary to make you guilty of violating PC 25400. For example, perhaps another person placed a firearm in your vehicle, purse, or jacket without you realizing it. In this case, you will not be guilty under PC 25400 even if you carry a concealed firearm.
You Are Licensed To Carry A Concealed Weapon
Carrying a gun/firearm does not violate PC 25400 if you have a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) license, according to Penal Code 26150. However, you will have the burden of proving that you have a valid license to prevail on this legal defense. Usually, there are several conditions for obtaining a concealed carry license in California. Some of the conditions include the following:
- You must submit a background check.
- You must complete a firearms training course.
Often, you are required to submit your (CCW) permit application to a local police agency like the sheriff’s office.
An Exemption From Penal Code 25400 Conviction
Several individuals are exempted from PC 25400 charges in California. They include:
- Licensed hunters or fishermen who are using or transporting their weapons for these activities
- Peace officers, whether active or honorably retired
- Members of target shooting clubs or organizations
- Licensed firearms dealers
- Bank guards or messengers
- Members of the U.S military
However, there are conditions imposed on the above exceptions, which include:
- The gun must be unloaded
- You can only use the gun during certain activities
Expunging Your PC 25400 Conviction
If the court grants you probation after violating PC 25400 charges, you can delete your criminal record once you:
- Complete the probation successfully
- You have the probation terminated early under PC 1203.03
The expungement of your conviction will erase the conviction from your record and all the implications of the conviction. However, the expungement of your PC 1203.03 does not:
- Prevent your conviction under PC 29800
- Permit you to own, possess, have under your control or custody a firearm
Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me
In California, the offense of carrying a concealed firearm is among the most heavily penalized offenses. Often, this crime requires only a few elements, which the law enforcers can hastily assume. If you face charges for carrying a concealed firearm, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Be sure to contact an attorney before your case progresses. At the Long Beach Criminal Attorney, our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case and create the best defense to fight your charges. Call us at 562-3v08-7807 and talk to one of our attorneys.