What Happens If You’re Charged with a Gun Crime?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingSep 16, 2022

How will recent gun violence affect you if you are charged with a gun-related crime in Los Angeles, whichis probably one of the most restricted counties in the nation regarding guns and gun control? 

The bottom line is that if you're charged with a gun offense, you could either be prosecuted by the City Attorney's office, which typically prosecutes misdemeanors, or the District Attorney's office prosecutes felonies.

Gun Crime Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

First and foremost, the legislature has made gun offenses mostly serious crimes that will cause you to serve many years in prison, depending on the circumstances of your case. 

That relates to the more severe cases of using a gun to commit a robbery, firing a gun at someone, or some other serious gun-related offense. 

In that case, the political undertone and your criminal record will be essential factors. You would face many years in prison if you dealt with one of those more serious gun-related offenses.

On the other hand, if you're just caught with a gun, charged with brandishing a gun – whatever the case may be – you will face a tough uphill battle, in the sense that the Los Angeles City Attorney's office has put some harsh policies out for their prosecutors who are dealing with these gun-related offenses. 

In fact, in my experience, and I've been doing this a long time, what I'm seeing is that there are special gun prosecutors who are tasked with dealing with cases involving the use or possession of a weapon.

Those prosecutors usually seek to punish individuals harshly and will take away their gun rights. Our California criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.

What are the California Laws Related to Guns?

  • Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC – assault with a firearm.
  • Penal Code 29800 PC – felon in possession of a firearm,
  • Penal Code 186.22 PC – street gang enhancement,
  • Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon,
  • Penal Code 246 PC – shooting at an inhabited dwelling,
  • Penal Code 26100 PC – drive-by shooting,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon,
  • Penal Code 25850 PC – carrying a loaded firearm,
  • 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 12022.4 PC – aiding and abetting a felony with a gun,
  • Penal Code 25400 PC – carrying a concealed firearm,
  • Penal Code 26350 PC – open carry of an unloaded firearm,
  • Penal Code 626.9 PC – gun-free school zone,
  • Penal Code 626.10 PC – weapons on school grounds.
  • Penal Code 16590 PC – prohibited weapons,
  • Penal Code 171(b) PC – weapon possession in public buildings,
  • Penal Code 171.5 PC – weapons at California airports,
  • Penal Code 171.7 PC – weapons at public transit facilities,
  • Penal Code 30600 PC – assault weapons and rifles,
  • Penal Code 30605 PC – possession of an assault weapon.

Assault with a Firearm – Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC

Assault with firearm charges is defined under California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2). It's a type of assault offense that the prosecutor will file if you use a firearm in the commission of an assault crime.

It's similar to assault with a deadly weapon under California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1). Still, the primary difference is that the assault was committed with a “deadly weapon” other than a firearm, and the assault was committed with enough force it was likely to produce great bodily injury.

A conviction carries harsh penalties, which could be considered a ‘strike” on your record under California's three strikes law.

Brandishing a Firearm – Penal Code 417 PC

In California, brandishing a firearm is usually a misdemeanor that carries up to one year in the county jail.  Penal Code 417(a)(2) provides that “every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner,” is guilty of a crime.

Brandishing a Firearm – Penal Code 417 PC

This statute only applies in cases where the perpetrator was not acting in self-defense.  In other words, brandishing a firearm while defending oneself is not a crime. 

PC 417(a)(2) applies only to the use of firearms, while other sections cover deadly weapons, such as knives.  There is no legal requirement that the gun in question is loaded to initiate a brandishing violation.

A conviction for brandishing a firearm will require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant drew or exhibited a firearm in a rude, angry, or threatening manner. Some violations under this law will elevate the case to a felony, such as

  • brandishing a firearm in the presence of an occupant of a motor vehicle under Penal Code 417.3 PC,
  • brandishing a firearm during a dispute at a daycare center under Penal Code 417(b) PC, and
  • brandishing a firearm at a law enforcement officer under Penal Code 417(c) PC.

Self-defense is also a common defense strategy against brandishing a firearm.  Many people who carry firearms do so legally and are licensed to carry them because of their employment.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm - Penal Code 29800 PC

In California, one of the consequences of getting convicted of a felony is that you are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, known as the "felon with a firearm" law defined in California Penal Code 29800 PC.  

This law extends to anyone addicted to narcotics, convicted of certain firearms offenses, or currently under an active felony warrant.

Put simply; it's a felony crime for a convicted felon to own, possess, or purchase a firearm. PC 29800 applies if you have a felony conviction, have two or more convictions for specific misdemeanors, or are addicted to narcotics.

The law defines "possessing" a weapon as having it under your control, which means either having it on your person or having access to it. Owning a weapon, purchasing it, or receiving it from someone all qualify as "possession."

Get Help from a Criminal Defense Professional

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

Criminal Defense Professional for Gun Crimes

If we've got an angle to fight the gun case, we will fight it.  We will investigate it and develop a defense strategy to obtain the best possible result. I've done over 250 jury trials throughout a 30-year career fighting for you.

I'm going to tell you right now, however, in most of the criminal cases that I do, you can't fight it to trial because the prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict you.  We will have to negotiate if you don't have a valid defense. 

We could show the prosecutors that you're not a threat to society.  Perhaps through prefiling intervention, we can persuade the prosecution not to file formal charges, called a “DA reject.”

The Hedding Law firm offers a free case evaluation by phone, or you can use the contact form.