If you illegally carry a concealed firearm in California, you could face harsh criminal penalties. In fact, it’s even illegal to openly carry a firearm in California unlike in most states. Depending on your criminal history and the circumstances of your case, you could face either a misdemeanor or felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon.
Owing to the possibility of jail time and steep fines, anyone charged for violating California’s concealed carry laws should retain the services of an experienced San Diego gun attorney. At McElfresh Law, we are driven by our passion for defending the rights and freedoms of Californians facing criminal charges.
It’s Illegal to Carry a Gun Outside Your Home or Business Without a License
California Penal Code sections 25850 PC and 26350 make it illegal to openly carry firearms outside of your home or business whether they’re loaded or unloaded. Thus, the only way to legally carry a weapon outside of your property is to have a concealed firearm permit obtained under California Penal Code section 26150 PC.
The crime of carrying a concealed firearm without a license is a more serious offense, governed by California Penal Code 25400 PC. Specifically, the statute prohibits carrying a firearm concealed on your person, within your car, or a car in which you are the passenger. The legal definition of firearm covers pistols, revolvers, and any other weapon operating on combustion that is capable of being concealed.
The Penalties For Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Without evidence of aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty for carrying a concealed weapon is one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Depending on the facts of your case, you may also qualify for probation. The facts that a judge will consider in determining your punishment are:
- Your criminal history
- Whether you’ve committed acts of violence in the past
- Any evidence that you intended to use the gun
- Your failure to cooperate with the police
On the other hand, your carrying of a concealed weapon may be treated as a felony under the following circumstances:
- You have a prior conviction of a felony or any California firearm offense
- You were carrying a firearm that you knew to be stolen
- You’re a gang member
- You possessed the firearm unlawfully
- You are prohibited from carrying a firearm owing to a previous conviction or a restraining order
- You were previously convicted of a misdemeanor against a person or property
- You have previous narcotics or dangerous drug-related convictions
- You were carrying a loaded firearm of which you were not the registered owner (but the police must have probable cause of this specific fact when they arrest you)
If convicted of the felony version of carrying a concealed weapon, you may face between one and three years in jail and / or a fine of up to $10,000.
Defending Against Your Concealed Carry Charges
In California, you may be convicted of concealed carry even if you were carrying an inoperable firearm. Although the prosecutors don’t need to show that your weapon was functional and actually posed a risk to others, they do need to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly carried it and that it was substantially concealed.
This means that you can escape a conviction for concealed carry if you can prove a reasonably likely version of events in which you had no knowledge of carrying the weapon.
It is harder to build a defense based on the weapon’s concealment, because the law considers a weapon to be concealed even when its outline is clearly visible through clothing. A concealed weapon may be in your pocket, your handbag, a briefcase, or anything you are holding. In the context of a vehicle, a weapon is concealed unless it is in the trunk or a locked container other than the glove box.
If an officer searches you or your car without a warrant or probable cause, any evidence seized as a result of that search may not be used in a trial against you. So if you get stopped for having a broken taillight, and you cooperate with the officer and take no action giving rise to probable cause, that officer does not a legal basis to search your car. It is unlikely that any illicit items recovered from the search—whether narcotics or concealed weapons—could be used as evidence against you.
Finally, you may be able to assert self-defense to overcome your concealed carry charge. To succeed, you’ll need to demonstrate that your life was in grave danger because of specific threats against you or conduct that would otherwise justify a restraining order.
How a Skilled San Diego Gun Attorney Can Help
The successful defense of your case will require the collection of documentary evidence and testimony of the officers involved in your arrest. Your lawyer will then need to ascertain how this evidence can be used towards supporting legal defenses. San Diego criminal defense lawyer Jessica McElfresh has a proven track record of obtaining beneficial case results on behalf of her clients. If you’re facing concealed carry charges and want to talk to an experienced San Diego gun attorney, you can call McElfresh Law today at (858) 756-7107 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.