CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON
California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. When you are arrested for violating a California gun law you can face serious criminal consequences.
San Diego prosecutors have been especially tough on individuals who carry a concealed firearm without a license or lawful purpose in the state.
If you have been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon the potential negative consequences of a conviction for a gun-related crime are serious and can stay with you for life.
Concealed Carry Laws in California
It is not always a crime to carry a concealed weapon in California.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, in some instances, issues concealed carry permits to California residents. However, you can only get a concealed carry permit in California if you can show “good cause” for needing one.
That means you must show a reason beyond a general concern for personal safety to establish good cause.
If you do not have a concealed carry permit you are generally prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm in San Diego.
Carrying a Concealed Weapons Laws
California Penal Code 25400 PC (formerly 12025 PC) makes it a crime to carry a concealed firearm in certain situations.
You should note that carrying a concealed weapon applies not just to your person.
You are prohibited from carrying a weapon that is capable of being concealed when you knowingly:
- Carry a concealed firearm in any vehicle under your control or direction;
- Carry a concealed firearm on your person; or
- Cause a firearm to be carried concealed in a vehicle in which you are an occupant.
Elements of Carrying a Concealed Weapon
In its most basic terms, this law makes it a crime to physically carry a concealed firearm on your body or in a vehicle. When prosecutors charge you with carrying a concealed weapon they must prove each and every element of the crime to successfully convict you.
If the prosecution is unable to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt they cannot convict you of the crime. The prosecutor handling your case will be required to prove:
- You carried a firearm that was capable of being concealed;
- The firearm was on your person, in your physical belongings (e.g., purse, bag, pocket), or in a vehicle you owned or occupied; and
- The firearm was substantially concealed from view.
Firearm Capable of Being Concealed
Do all weapons or firearms trigger criminal liability under California Penal Code 25400 PC? No. You only commit the crime of carrying a concealed weapon if you carry a “firearm capable of being concealed on the person.” A firearm capable of being concealed on the person is defined as (1) any device designed to be used as a weapon, (2) from which a projectile is expelled by combustion or force of explosion, and (3) with a barrel less than 16 inches long. A firearm with an interchangeable barrel may also be included in this definition.
Firearms that generally fit this description include pistols, handguns, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, rockets, and tasers. Weapons with fixed, extended barrels exceeding 16 inches are not considered to be firearms capable of being concealed on the person.
Weapons such as BB guns, air rifles, and pellet guns, which rely on air pressure, are also generally excluded from the scope of prohibited firearms.
How do you know if the firearm you are carrying is concealed for the purposes of this law?
California courts have held that a firearm does not have to be entirely out of view or hidden to be considered “concealed” for the purposes of the concealed carry laws. Weapons that are substantially concealed – where most of the weapon is out of view – are considered to be concealed.
However, firearms that are held in belt holsters are not considered to be concealed for the purposes of this law.
Concealed Carry in a Vehicle
It is a crime to conceal a firearm or cause to a firearm to be concealed in a vehicle that you own or that you occupy.
How, then, can you transport a firearm that you legally own without violating the law?
Firearms can be transported in a vehicle if they are kept in locked containers that are out of reach.
Locked containers can include the vehicle’s trunk, but do not include the glove compartment.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in California
Carrying a concealed weapon is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
The severity of the charge you face will depend on the facts and circumstances of your specific case.
Most first-time criminal offenders will be charged with a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor charge for carrying a concealed weapon you could face one year in jail, a fine of no more than $1,000, and a term of summary probation.
Your right to buy, own, or possess a gun in the future is generally not disrupted for a conviction of this misdemeanor offense.
You will generally face felony charges for carrying a concealed weapon if (1) you have a prior felony conviction, (2) the firearm in question is stolen and you knew or should have known that it was stolen, (3) you are prohibited from having or owning a gun, or (4) you are in a criminal gang.
If you are convicted of a felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon you could face as many as 3 years in prison and be required to pay as much as $10,000 in fines.
A conviction for a felony charge of carrying a concealed firearm will generally result in the loss of the right to own or possess a firearm in California.
Some violations of California’s concealed carry laws carry mandatory minimum sentences. This means that if you are convicted of the crime you will be required to serve at least some time behind bars. You will be required to serve a mandatory term of imprisonment if you are convicted of any violation of Penal Code 25400 PC and you have a prior conviction for:
- A felony or firearm-related offense (mandatory minimum sentence 3 months);
- Assault with a deadly weapon (mandatory minimum sentence of 3-6 months);
- Shooting at an uninhabited dwelling or car (mandatory minimum sentence of 3-6 months); or
- Brandishing a weapon (mandatory minimum sentence of 3-6 months).
Defenses to Carrying a Concealed Weapon Charges in California
Just because you are arrested for a crime does not mean that you will be charged or convicted.
You have the right to defend yourself against any criminal charges you face.
When you are arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in San Diego it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
This will increase your chances of getting the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
Your attorney’s job is to make it as difficult as possible for the prosecution to build a case against you. Your concealed carry attorney will introduce any evidence that supports your lack of guilt and/or contradicts the prosecution’s case.
Defenses to carrying a concealed weapon in California can include:
- Lawful possession pursuant to a concealed carry license;
- Weapon was not actually or substantially concealed;
- Lack of required knowledge;
- Weapon was concealed in your home or place of business that you own;
- Weapon discovered because of an illegal or unlawful search and seizure;
- Weapon discovered because of an illegal or unlawful arrest; or
Self-defense is generally not an excuse for carrying a concealed weapon.
However, if you can prove that you believed you were in grave and immediate danger because of specific threats, and that these threats warranted a restraining order to be issued, you may be able to successfully use this argument.
An experienced California concealed carry attorney will review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine which defenses) may be appropriate.