Firearms and Weapons Charges in California

The state of California is well known for its strict and nuanced gun laws. For those unfamiliar with these restrictions or who are visiting or moving to California, these complex weapons laws have the potential to bring about severe penalties.

Many weapons related charges are felonies, with the determining factor between a felony and misdemeanor change revolving around the specific circumstances of the case. These circumstances include: the type of weapon possessed by the defendant upon arrest, intent with the weapon, and whether the defendant had prior criminal offenses.

As gun and weapon laws in California are detailed and involved, it is not possible to discuss all of them and their specifics at this time. However, being more informed about what the general laws and most common weapons charges are can help you know what to do if you or a loved one is concerned about facing a firearms charge.

There are many types of weapons charges in California, including the following:

  • Brandishing a weapon
  • Selling, leasing, or transferring a firearm without a license
  • Possessing an automatic assault weapon
  • Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit
  • Improper handling of a firearm in a vehicle
  • Shooting an object into a building that is occupied
  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Furthermore, it is important to note that a weapon is broadly defined in California. In addition to firearms, a person may also be charged for improperly carrying or using certain types of objects, martial arts items, or self-defense equipment. Listed below are just a few items that are considered illegal weapons in California:

  • Brass, metal, or hard plastic knuckles
  • Sawed-off or short barreled shotguns and rifles
  • Cane guns, wallet guns, or zip guns
  • Dirks/daggers- sharp objects or knives of a certain blade length
  • Pen knives, belt buckle knives, and lipstick knives
  • Nunchaku/Chainsticks
  • Shuriken/Throwing stars
  • Kubotan key chains
  • Hand grenades
  • Flamethrowers
  • Silencers for any firearm
  • Any explosive or armor piercing bullets

Likewise, certain types of people are prohibited from possessing a gun in the state of California. If you are not allowed to possess a gun, you are likewise prohibited from owning ammunition. These people include:

  • anyone convicted of a felony or violent offense in any jurisdiction
  • anyone addicted to narcotics
  • anyone under a condition of probation to not possess a firearm
  • anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors
  • anyone who suffers from mental illness and/or has been determined by a court to be a danger to themselves and others
  • anyone who is not legally living in the United States
  • anyone who was dishonorably discharged from the military
  • anyone who is a minor/under the age of 18

A weapons charge can impact a person for their entire life and should not be taken lightly. Misdemeanor weapons charges can result in up to a year in jail, while those convicted of a felony weapons charge can receive up to 20 years.

If you are concerned about or have been charged with violating any weapons or firearms laws in California, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

For over 25 years Robert M. Helfend has provided Criminal Defense in the Los Angeles area. Practicing in the areas of criminal Law, DUI/DWI, and white collar crimes, at both the state and federal levels.