Being charged with a weapon charge in San Diego is a very serious problem. If you face a firearm or weapons charge, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer to protect your freedom, rights, and future.
The law surrounding weapons charges in San Diego is vast and complicated. There are hundreds of laws about what is legal for a permit holder versus someone who is not authorized or a convicted felon.
There are several misdemeanors and felonies that you can be charged with for having or using a weapon in a way that the state has prohibited. Don’t expect to beat these charges because you’re innocent — they easily stick and can take years to get off your record.
What is a Weapon Charge?
A weapon charge is any crime that involves a firearm or knife, including assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. Any offense involving a gun or knife can be charged as a felony and carries harsh consequences.
You Don’t Need to Use Your Weapon to Be Convicted of a Weapon Charge
Just having a weapon in your possession may be enough to convict you of a crime. If you are carrying the weapon illegally, the District Attorney can charge you with the crime of possessing an illegal weapon. Additionally, suppose you are accused of using your weapon to commit another crime, such as theft or assault. In that case, the D.A. can charge you with additional crimes, such as robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Simple Possession of an Illegal Weapon can Result in Jail Time
If convicted of simple possession of an illegal weapon, you could face up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines. In addition, if convicted under California’s “10-20-Life” law for using a gun during the commission of a crime (assault, robbery, etc.), the minimum sentence is 10 years in prison.
The only way to avoid these harsh penalties is by hiring an experienced attorney who can build a strong defense on your behalf.
How Does California Define a Weapon?
Anyone accused of a weapons offense in California should understand how the state defines a weapon. According to the California Penal Code, any object used as a weapon is considered a weapon in most situations. Typically, this includes guns, ammunition, knives, and other similar items.
However, it’s also possible for an object not intended as a weapon to be considered one during certain circumstances. For example, suppose you hit another person with a baseball bat or your fists. In that case, the court may consider these objects deadly weapons if you cause serious bodily injury and use forethought before doing so.
Types of Weapons Charges in California
There are many different criminal charges related to illegal weapons in California. Some of the more common ones include:
- Unlicensed Sale of Firearms
- Possession of an Illegal Weapon (e.g., sawed-off shotgun)
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW)
- Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon
- Illegal Possession of Ammunition
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Possession of an assault weapon
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Possession of a firearm by someone prohibited from possessing a firearm
- Criminal threats with a deadly weapon
- Brandishing a weapon
- Drawing or exhibiting a deadly weapon other than in self-defense (Penal Code 417)
- Shooting at an inhabited dwelling house or occupied car (Penal Code 246)
- Discharging a firearm at an unoccupied vehicle (Penal Code 247)
What are the Penalties for Weapon Charges in California?
Punishments for weapons charges in San Diego vary by offense, but all can be severe. In some cases, you could face jail or prison time, or you may be required to pay hefty fines. Whether your punishment will include jail or prison time depends on several factors, including:
- Whether you used the weapon in the commission of another crime
- Whether or not you have prior convictions on your record
- Whether or not anyone was hurt as a result of your actions
- Whether you were carrying a concealed weapon illegally.
Even if you were not carrying a concealed gun and did not use it to commit a crime, the state may consider your possession of an illegal weapon “aggravated” and punish you more severely. For example, if you are convicted of owning an assault rifle while being part of a criminal street gang, you could face up to 9years in prison.
A first-time offender typically receives up to 1 year in jail and up to $1000 in fines if found guilty. However, penalties can be increased if other charges are filed along with the weapons charge. For instance, if found with a weapon used during the commission of another crime (such as assault or robbery), you will likely be required to pay restitution to any victims involved and serve additional time in prison.
What Are Some Good Defenses Against Weapons Charges?
As with any other charge, the prosecutor in a weapons case has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the context of weapons charges, they must prove that you possessed a weapon. They can do this by presenting physical evidence (the actual weapon itself, pictures or videos of you with the weapon, etc.) or witness testimony.
It is often possible to argue that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove their case against you or that their evidence is inaccurate or unreliable. If you’ve been charged with a weapons-related crime in San Diego, several other legal defenses may be available to you, depending on the circumstances of your case. A San Diego weapons charges lawyer can help you build an effective defense against your charges. Some of the defenses that may be available in your case include:
- No criminal intent
- Carrying for self-defense
- False accusation
- You did not know about the presence of the weapon
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What are the Dangers of a Weapon Charge?
No matter your situation, a weapons charge can dramatically change your life. You may have the conviction on your record for the rest of your life, significantly limiting your employment opportunities.
If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose many personal rights people take for granted every day. When someone has been convicted of a felony, they cannot own or possess any firearm in California. They also cannot serve on a jury.
If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor weapons charge, you will still face some serious penalties. Misdemeanor convictions include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Probation and community service
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Temporary loss of gun rights
If you are charged with a felony weapon offense, you can face even more severe penalties. Possible punishments include:
- Mandatory minimum prison time that varies depending on the type of offense and whether anyone was injured during the crime.
- If you are convicted of a felony weapon charge, it is impossible to own or possess any firearm legally in California as soon as you get out of jail. A conviction will also result in the revocation of your right to vote while imprisoned and while
Some weapons charges are considered wobblers, which means they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.