How to Avoid Harsh Punishment for Gun Charges

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingOct 31, 2022

I think people are starting to realize more and more that the California legislature, police, prosecutors, and judges are sick and tired of dealing with guns in Los Angeles. 

This is a hot political issue right now, and in every single aspect of the government, guns are at the top of the list for prosecuting, arresting, and punishing.

How to Avoid Harsh Punishment for Gun Charges

There is a strict policy at the District Attorney's office, which prosecutes felony cases, and at the City Attorney's office, which prosecutes misdemeanor gun-related cases.   

The City Attorney has special gun prosecutors who only prosecute cases involving guns.  This gives you some idea of how seriously they take the use of firearms in criminal cases.

Even at the felony level, if somebody is charged with possessing a gun, I'm seeing now in Los Angeles County almost all gun possession cases being booked and filed as a felony. Before, these same cases would have been straight misdemeanors.

It's just surprising politically how aggressive, especially the police, have gotten because they are concerned that gun use will cause their officers to be hurt or killed.  This is the environment you are facing.

Let's say somebody uses a gun to commit a Penal Code 211 PC robbery.  There is a 10-year sentencing enhancement in LA county for firearms that are used during a robbery. 

This means the perpetrator is looking at ten years for using the gun plus whatever penalty they get for the robbery, which includes a high term of six years in prison.   So, they would face 16 years in prison served at 85% because that's a violent felony.  Our California criminal defense lawyers will look at this topic in more detail below.

What Are the Common Laws Related to Weapons in California?

  • Penal Code 12022 PC – armed with a firearm during a felony,
  • Penal Code 12022.5 PC – use of a firearm in a felony,
  • Penal Code 12022.53 PC – use a gun and you're done law,
  • Penal Code 12022.55 PC – discharge firearm during a felony,
  • Penal Code 171(b) PC – weapon possession in public buildings,
  • Penal Code 171.5 PC – weapons at California airports,
  • Penal Code 186.22 PC – street gang enhancement,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC - assault with a firearm,
  • Penal Code 246 PC – shooting at an inhabited dwelling,
  • Penal Code 25400 PC – carrying a concealed firearm,
  • Penal Code 25850 PC – carrying a loaded firearm,
  • Penal Code 26100 PC – drive-by shooting law,
  • Penal Code 26350 PC – open carry of an unloaded firearm,
  • Penal Code 29800 PC – felon in possession of a firearm,
  • Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon,
  • Penal Code 626.9 PC – gun-free school zone,

Why You Need a Criminal Attorney in Gun Cases

So, if you or a loved one has a gun case, you need to get an attorney who knows how to deal with this harsh political climate.  People are being shot all over the country.  There's gun violence in Los Angeles.

Why You Need a Criminal Attorney in Gun Cases

California Penal Code 187 PC murders are up to one of the highest percentages ever, and the police, prosecutors, and judges feel it's their job to try to turn to tide.  So, they will take it out on anybody with a gun-related offense.

The way that we can best try to defend you is to try to take you out of the category of a dangerous person with a gun.  We need to show the other side of you:

  • Do you have a job?
  • Do you have a family?
  • Why were you messing around with the gun?

These are the questions that prosecutors and judges are asking.  What was that person doing with a gun?  Why did they do that – whether it's a road-rage situation, someone is brandishing a bun, or a weapon is found on the person in their vehicle?

Many times, the police are cutting corners and bending the law to get these guns.  Then they lie about it, and now we're trying to file a motion to suppress, saying it was an illegal search, which is not easy to win because these judges don't want to grant it.  They want to get rid of the guns.  They want to stop people from getting shot.

Preparing a Mitigation Package

We must decide whether or not we will fight the gun case. The Los Angeles District Attorney has backed off on some gun allegations, and prosecutors are not currently using the 10-year mandatory minimum. 

So, your best angle is to show the other side of you, and your champion, your attorney, is the one who has to do that.  We're going to have to put together a mitigation package to:

  • show what type of a job you have;
  • show the type of character you have;
  • the people who know and love you can write letters about you, and
  • the type of person you are so we can put a different spin on you and your circumstances.

Trust me, the police, when they write up the police report in a gun case, will write it up badly.  They often claim that people are gang members when they're not.

California Criminal Defense Attorney

They're trying to claim that people were up to no good and would use the gun to commit some crime.  Trust me; it's a whole new world out there as it relates to guns.

You can be a gun advocate or not.  You've got to acknowledge that they're coming after you if you own, use, or possess a gun in any unlawful manner.

So, suppose you need the best attorney because you have a gun case. In that case, you're in trouble; you're looking at a misdemeanor, a felony, jail/prison time, whatever the case may be; put my 30 years of experience handling gun-related offenses to work for you.

Suppose you are, in fact, guilty of the crime, and you don't have the motion to utilize to get it dismissed.

In that case, we'll next file a mitigation package with the prosecutors, and I'll meet with the supervisor to try to get the misdemeanor instead of the felony and keep you out of jail.  The type of stuff we'll need for that is that if you have a job, we'd want proof. 

Get some character letters from people who know you, talking about your good character in the community. So that would also be good.  And indeed, if you've had no gun violence in your past, that would be something we could utilize.

How to Get the Best Result in a Gun Possession Case?

Now, more and more, when people are caught with guns, they're facing very serious consequences, especially in Los Angeles County.  The rules and the way that police go after guns have tightened up. 

Police are pulling vehicles over left and right, doing illegal searches, and taking people's guns away. Sadly, prosecutors, even with somebody with no record, are filing felonies against the person instead of misdemeanors.

If you're caught with a gun, and it's loaded, or you have the bullets close to the weapon itself, you're facing a criminal charge for illegal gun possession.  But it's a wobbler, so the police should be filing the case as a misdemeanor, along with the prosecutors, but they're often not doing that. So instead, they're filing the case as a felony.

If you're a gang member caught with a gun, and they file it as a felony, that makes much more sense, at least as far as a policy goes.  But just giving ordinary people caught with a gun a felony is not appropriate. 

I've been doing this for over 30 years.  I've worked for the district attorney's office.  I worked for a superior court judge earlier in my career, and in the early 1990s, I started defending people as you charged with gun possession cases.

Review of the Case Details

We first need to sit down and talk about your case and figure out exactly what happened and the circumstances of them finding the gun on you. That's important.  Suppose you were headed to commit a robbery or some other crime, and they find a gun and can see that you're prepared to commit that crime.

In that case, that's a much different scenario than just coming from the shooting range and forgetting to secure your gun correctly. I also get many cases where people use guns at shooting ranges when they have a felony on their record, and months later, authorities are coming to arrest them. 

We need first to identify what scenario you are in as it relates to a gun, and then the second thing we look at is, was the gun was legally found. In other words, did they illegally search your car without your consent, find the gun, and try to use it against you? 

If that's the scenario, we will file a motion to suppress the use of the gun against you, saying it was not a legal search, and therefore, the weapon they found is the fruit of the poisonous tree and can't be used against you. 

Without the gun, they have no case.  They'll have to dismiss it. Now, everybody caught with a gun tries to make that argument. You've got to have the facts and circumstances that fit to be able to make that argument successfully. So that's one of the things we'll evaluate and discuss in the meeting.