Some of the most serious offenses under the law are those involving guns. Gun laws ensure public safety. There are rigorous rules about when, how, and where you can use a gun because of this. One of the most severe firearm offenses is carrying a loaded weapon. The crime typically carries a hefty court fee and a jail sentence as a misdemeanor. But the prosecutor can file felony charges against you under certain circumstances. For example, if the loaded gun is registered to another person or you have a prior conviction for a drug or gun offense.
Thankfully, you can challenge your charges in court to prevent a conviction and its consequences. That would be feasible with the aid of an accomplished criminal defense lawyer. Our skilled attorneys at Long Beach Criminal Attorney can use the most excellent legal defense tactics to give your case a just conclusion. After your arrest in Long Beach, you can contact us for legal advice and the protection of your rights.
Legal Definition of Carrying a Loaded Firearm
Adults are allowed by law to buy, use, and own weapons. But they have to obtain a legal permit. In certain situations, though, you can lose your ability to bear arms, for example, after a felony conviction or if you have a mental disorder. Gun use and ownership are likewise strictly controlled, making it illegal to openly carry a gun or have a loaded pistol in your possession in public. These rules shield the general public from the anxiety of being around people carrying loaded weapons.
There are some exceptions to this law that apply under particular circumstances. For example, when it comes to law enforcement or military personnel. However, even those with licenses to buy or own weapons cannot carry loaded weapons publicly.
PC 25850 forbids carrying a loaded weapon in public. However, the prosecution must establish each element of this crime beyond a reasonable doubt before the court can find you guilty. These components include:
- That the police found you to be in possession of a loaded gun.
- You either carried the weapon with you or kept it in your car.
- You were aware of having a loaded gun.
- The police found you in a public area (like a street or public venue) or at a location where it is prohibited to discharge a weapon.
To further comprehend this offense, let us examine some of these components in more detail:
Any object that can work as a weapon is considered a firearm. It should be built to release a projectile through the barrel and cause an explosion. Here are some typical gun examples:
Even though they are closely related to firearms, the following do not meet the legal definition of firearms:
- BB guns.
- Pellet guns.
A loaded gun has live rounds of ammunition or any other dischargeable component in its chamber, cylinder, or magazine.
You are in possession of a gun if you carry it in your hands, on your person, or even on anything you carry, like a bag or purse. You are also in possession if the weapon is in the vehicle you are driving or riding in.
Knowledge of the Firearms Presence
The fact that you knew the pistol was on your person or in your vehicle is another crucial component of this crime. If you placed the gun where the police found it, you knew of its presence. However, you do not violate this law if someone else puts the weapon in your bag, jacket, or vehicle without your knowledge.
Note that the prosecution is not required by law to show that you knew the weapon was loaded when it was in your presence. Mere knowledge of its existence is sufficient to obtain a conviction.
Example: Lucy uses her husband's van to work on his day off. Her husband keeps a loaded gun in the van's glove box. Even if the loaded gun belongs to her husband, Lucy will be guilty if the police stop her and detain her for carrying a loaded weapon. But she would not be in violation if she was unaware that the pistol was in the glove box.
If you are detained in a public setting while carrying a loaded gun, this regulation applies to you. Any communal area used by the public is a public place, including public streets. Anybody who wants to go there can do so without limitation.
Possible Legal Defense Strategies Against Charges Under PC 25850
A conviction for carrying a loaded gun does not happen automatically after an arrest. The law gives you the right to a fair trial in which you can offer facts and defenses against your allegations. With the aid of an accomplished criminal attorney, you can accomplish that. Fortunately, criminal defense attorneys have access to a wide range of legal arguments that they can present to the judge to have them drop or reduce charges under this statute.
Here are some tactics your lawyer can employ to bring about a just resolution to your case:
You Were Unaware of the Firearm’s Presence
You must know you have a loaded gun on you or in your car to be guilty under this law. If you placed the weapon there, witnessed someone else put it there or consented to carry it for someone else, you will have this knowledge. You were likely oblivious to the firearm's presence if none of those happened. In that case, this provision absolves you of guilt. If someone else secretly places a loaded gun in your car, bag, purse, or clothing, your criminal defense lawyer can employ this tactic.
The Gun Was Unloaded
If the firearm discovered by the authorities on your person or in your car was empty, you could not face charges under this legislation. Only if the recovered gun is loaded does PC 25850 apply. The judge will drop your charges if the prosecution cannot establish your case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, PC 26350, a distinct statute, allows the prosecutor to bring charges against you under those circumstances. The open carrying of an unloaded firearm in public, outside a person's vehicle, or on a person's person is prohibited under this law.
You Are Exempted From This Law
Exceptions to this law permit particular people to carry loaded weapons in public. These individuals comprise:
- Law enforcement or peace officers, both active and retired.
- Agents of international law enforcement organizations, like the FBI.
- Military personnel from the United States.
- Individuals who possess a license to carry a concealed weapon.
- Registered recreational shooters.
This statute exempts you from prosecution if you fit into one of these categories. You will need your attorney to provide evidence that you are legally allowed to carry a loaded gun in public. The judge will drop your charges if that is the case.
The Police Conducted an Illegal Search and Seizure
Most gun-related arrests occur after a comprehensive investigation, searches, and seizures by law enforcement officials. The police must undertake these inquiries and searches under the law. For example, police must have a good reason to search you or your car and seize a loaded gun. The search and seizure are unlawful without a warrant. Any evidence obtained during an illegal search and seizure is not admissible in court.
An aggressive criminal defense lawyer will seek opportunities to undermine the prosecution's case. Remember that the court will drop your charges if the prosecutor cannot prove all the components of the crime.
Penalties For a Conviction Under PC 25850
PC 25850 violations are often considered misdemeanor offenses. You will probably face the following punishments for a straightforward misdemeanor:
- A maximum of one year in jail.
- Court fines not exceeding $1,000.
In your case, there can occasionally be aggravating circumstances that turn it into a straight felony or a wobbler. You could also receive an additional three months in jail if you have a conviction record for particular crimes. A skilled criminal attorney can explain your circumstance's legal ramifications and options.
A PC 25850 violation is a wobbler offense if any of the following conditions hold:
- According to the police investigation, the firearm you were in possession of is not legally registered to you.
- You have a criminal conviction for a specific misdemeanor or drug-related violation.
The prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony if it is a wobbler offense. Their decision depends on your previous history and the facts of your case.
The punishments above also apply to misdemeanor convictions for wobbler offenses. But upon conviction of a felony, you could face:
- Jail time for a maximum of three years.
- Court fines not exceeding $1,000.
If any of the following is confirmed, a violation of PC 25850 becomes a direct felony:
- You have a previous conviction for a felony or a gun offense.
- The weapon you were in possession of was stolen.
- You belong to a violent street gang.
- You did not have a license to own a gun.
- You are not legally allowed to possess or own a gun.
According to this statute, if the prosecution accuses you of a straight felony, you will probably be found guilty and sentenced to the following penalties:
- A maximum of three years in jail.
- Court fines not exceeding $10,000.
Mandatory Three-Month Minimum Incarceration
Keep in mind that some circumstances necessitate a minimum three-month jail term. If you broke this law and were previously convicted for a specific crime, that can apply to your situation. These specific violations can include the following:
- Assault using a dangerous weapon, PC 254(a)(1).
- Shooting at a car or inhabited structure like a house, PC 246.
- Brandishing a gun, PC 417.
You will be given a three-month jail sentence in addition to your initial sentence if you have a conviction for any of those offenses.
Other Consequences of a Conviction Under PC 25850
Even after you have finished your jail or probation sentence, a conviction under this Act entails other serious repercussions that can still influence your life.
For example, if you are an immigrant, it can affect your immigration status. Crimes involving firearms are mainly deportable offenses. Any gun-related conviction could result in deportation and being barred from entering the United States. It implies that the immigration agency can deploy its officials to arrest you after you serve your sentence and then forcibly deport you. You must retain the most robust criminal defense following your arrest.
A violation of this law could also affect your right to bear arms. Remember that one of the groups of people in California who are barred from using, purchasing, or owning firearms are those who have been convicted of a felony. If the court finds you guilty of a felony under this legislation, you could lose your gun privileges temporarily or permanently.
Expungement of Your Criminal Conviction
It is important to note that after serving your jail term and probation and paying all court fines, you can ask the court to help expunge your criminal conviction. All of the adverse effects and limitations of the sentence will be removed following an expungement. When deciding how to react to your appeal, the court will consider various factors, like how successfully or poorly you served your sentence. The judge will grant your request for expungement if you meet the requirements. Nobody will ever know you have a criminal conviction for carrying a loaded weapon after expungement.
Find a Competent Criminal Attorney Near Me
It is advised to initially retain a knowledgeable criminal attorney if you face criminal charges for carrying a loaded firearm in Long Beach. It is because navigating the criminal justice system alone could be challenging due to its complexity. You must also understand your charges' legal ramifications and available options. At Long Beach Criminal Attorney, we can handle that and more. Our team comprises criminal attorneys with extensive training and experience who have previously dealt with various firearms cases. We provide guidance, assistance, and a solid defense to ensure our clients receive the best possible case results. Contact us at 562-308-7807 to find out more information.