Penal Code Section 626.9 is California’s Gun-Free Zone School Act which basically is talking about somebody cannot bring a gun inside a school, obviously, or anywhere near a school.
If you do, there are serious consequences. Obviously, all of these shootings that have occurred across the county — even shootings in schools where people have been killed. This is something that is very, very serious. If you bring a gun within a thousand feet of a school zone, you could be prosecuted for this Penal Code Section 626.9, even if you really didn’t have any intent to do anything criminal inside or around the school.
Elements of the Crime for Penal Code 626.9
The elements of a prosecution in San Fernando Valley for one of these gun zone violations is (1) they have to prove that you have a gun, so you possessed a gun; they have to prove that you’re within a thousand feet of a school zone; and you also have to know or reasonably know that you’re near a school, and if you bring this gun there and you don’t really have any lawful reason for it, then not only are you going to be charged with the crime of possessing a gun, you’re also going to be charged with possessing a gun near a school zone, which is obviously much more serious.
If the prosecutors and police have any doubt as to what your intentions are with that gun, you’re going to be facing a potential state prison sentence, because if you’re convicted of violating Penal Code Section 626.9, then you could be looking at up to two, three or five years in state prison.
So, they take this crime very seriously. Obviously, they’re going to look behind what you’re doing. If they, for any reason, think that you might have gone in the school with that gun to start shooting people, you can bet they’re going to try to drop other charges on you in addition to that particular charge.
Retain a Criminal Lawyer Immediately
So, if you’re charged with this Penal Code Section and it’s a gun case in San Fernando Valley and you’re within a thousand feet of a school, get to a criminal defense lawyer right away. Obviously, what I would do and what I’ve done in the past in these types of offenses, I try to differentiate you from those individuals who are actually possessing the gun to do something bad on the school.
There are all sorts of different defenses that can be utilized in these cases and also what your intent was and your reasoning and explanation for why you had the gun near the school is going to be very important and a lot of times, the police will just do a one-sided investigation in these gun cases, thinking the person is up to no good.
They’ve got political pressure against them. They’ve got their bosses, the public, the legislature breathing down their necks, so they’ll just make an example of you, give it to the prosecutors.
If the prosecutors buy what they’re saying regarding your intentions with a gun near a school, you’re going to be looking at a very serious prosecution — one that will affect you for the rest of your life where your gun rights will be taken away, you’ll be sent to prison, you’ll never be able to vote again — so, these are all very, very serious potential penalties.
The key is that you get an attorney who has handled these types of cases before, knows what the defenses are and knows how to do damage control and mitigate some of these cases.
Defenses for Violating California Gun-Free Zone Act
Sometimes maybe you’re just going to a shooting range. Sometimes you forget that you have the gun. There are all sorts of different explanations and potential defenses that can exist in these cases.
Obviously, you’re going to be in a much stronger position if you’re able to have an attorney who has done these type of cases before, who know how to win them, who knows how to mitigate them, who knows what to tell the prosecutor, who knows what the potential outcomes can be in these cases and knows exactly what to do to get you the result you must have if you’re charged with violating the Gun-Free Zone Act in San Fernando or Van Nuys, CA pursuant to Penal Code Section 626.9.
For more information on California’s Gun-Free Zone School Act, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling the Hedding Law Firm at (213) 542-0940 today.