I’ve been doing criminal defense now for over 26 years. I’ve been practicing in the San Fernando Valley. I have an office in Encino very close to the Van Nuys court and San Fernando court and I’m pretty familiar with how gun and weapon cases are handled.
They’re handled very seriously because there’s a lot of shootings in Los Angeles and gun violence is definitely on the agenda of the prosecutors and judges as far as a political issue to deal with.
Felony Charges for Gun Possession
I’m seeing them charging felonies for just simple possession of guns out on the street. I don’t really understand what’s triggering it other than the fact that they want guns off the street.
Too many people are getting shot by either gang members or people going into crowded locations shooting people across the country. So, Los Angeles is definitely a place where you do not want to be holding a gun.
It’s an extremely dangerous thing, especially if you’re a gang member. They’ll definitely charge a felony against you and a lot of times they’ll be seeking state prison and they’ll add a gang allegation saying you’re holding the gun for the gang.
I’ve also seen them just in simple cases filing felonies where they would normally file misdemeanors, even or guns just in a vehicle. It’s very difficult in Los Angeles county to even get a gun permit, so people having guns and driving around with them are going to be punished extremely severely.
Common Defenses for Possession of Gun Cases
Some of the defenses are, if you’re carrying the gun unloaded and have the bullets in a separate compartment, a lot of times you can avoid getting a conviction for that. Sometimes you forget that you have the gun with you. That’s usually not a very good defense.
You’ve got constructive possession. It’s in the car. You should have gotten rid of it. They’re usually going to fight you tooth and nail in a situation like that where you’re trying to claim that you forgot about it.
I’ve got a case now where someone forgot and brought it into an airport right through the metal detector. To me, that’s a much stronger argument that you really seriously didn’t know that you had the gun because you know it’s going to get picked up in the metal detector, so that’s a pretty clear good argument for a defense that you didn’t have the knowledge that you had the gun.
10-20-Life Gun Sentencing Enhancement
So, the answer to how weapon cases are charged is very serious and if you have any mistake about it, anyone that commits a crime with a gun is looking at a 10 year enhancement for that gun under California Penal Code 12022.53.
For example, if you go in and you rob a liquor store with a gun, they’re going to get you for the robbery which usually has a high term of six years, plus they’re going to get you for the ten year gun enhancement.
So, in that scenario you’re looking at a 16 year sentence at 85% and you end up with a strike on your record. So, that gives you a feel for how serious these guys are really looking at guns and people who own, use and possess guns.
Of course, if you’ve got the gun for a lawful reason — maybe you’re coming from the shooting range — you do have rights as a citizen. You’ve got Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures and as long as you’ve got the gun stored properly and you’re transporting it the right way then you have a good argument that you’re lawfully carrying the gun.
But if you’re walking around with a gun in your pocket and you don’t have a concealed weapon permit or if you’re walking around with a gun in your car — like jammed in the seats — the police and the prosecutors think that you’re looking for trouble.
They think you’re looking to use that weapon and you are not permitted to do that anywhere in Los Angeles county or the San Fernando Valley. Van Nuys court, San Fernando court, those prosecutors are very tough, particularly in Van Nuys. The head prosecutor there, that’s one of his pet peeves is people with guns.
So, you’re definitely going to want to get an attorney who has handled gun-related offenses; number one, who knows the defenses to it; and number two, who can mitigate things and kind of show the other side of things so you don’t end up with some horrible sentence related to the possession of the gun.
I’ve handled thousands of gun cases over my long career. I know what to do. I know what to say. I know who to talk to. Take the first step. Pick up the phone. Make the call and we’ll get you on the road of getting out of the criminal justice system as soon as possible.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us at (213) 542-0940.