California takes a harsh stance on weapons offenses, including the crime of carrying a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle in a public place or street. If you or someone close to you is facing charges for a weapons offense, The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings can potentially help. San Bernardino and Riverside County gun crime lawyer Gregory Comings can assess the facts surrounding your case and mount a legal defense that asserts your rights. Attorney Comings is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and focuses his legal practice on helping those accused of major drug crimes, weapons offenses, assault and battery, and other violent crimes.
In order to control the use of deadly weapons, California makes it a crime to carry a loaded firearm in public. Penal Code section 25850 specifies that this crime applies to those carrying loaded firearms on their person, or in a vehicle while in a public place or public street. Legally, the police have the right to determine whether a firearm is loaded by inspecting a person or their vehicle.
To prove a violation of Penal Code section 25850, the State must show that you knew you were carrying a firearm, and that you were in a public place or on a public street in an incorporated city, or an unincorporated area, where it was unlawful to discharge a firearm. The prosecution need not show knowledge that the firearm was loaded. Devices designed to be used as weapons are “firearms” according to the law.
Carrying a loaded firearm may be charged as a felony under certain circumstances. If a defendant has a former conviction for a felony crime, or violated the law with a knowingly stolen weapon, the state may charge an offense under Penal Code section 25850 as a felony. Similarly, if the prosecution shows that the defendant was an active participant in a criminal street gang, they may charge the crime as a felony. Felonies are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Alternatively, as a misdemeanor, carrying a loaded firearm in public can lead to one year of county jail time and a fine up to $1,000. A three-month mandatory minimum exists for defendants who violate Penal Code section 25850 and who have already been convicted of certain offenses, such as assault with a deadly weapon or brandishing a weapon
In every case, the prosecution is required to prove all elements of the crime. If a defendant did not know of the prescence of the firearm, then the charge cannot stand. Additionally, a defendant cannot be convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in public if they knew they were carrying a firearm, but the firearm was not loaded at the time of the arrest.
Another defense that your attorney can potentially raise is that law enforcement may have obtained evidence in your case in violation of your constitutional rights. For example, evidence may be inadmissible if the arresting officer did not have probable cause to search your vehicle. Finally, a defendant may be exempt from the law prohibiting carrying a loaded weapon in public. Examples of those exempt include California police officers, members of the United States military, and a person with a concealed carry permit.
Following a charge for a serious weapons offense such as carrying a loaded weapon in public, it is important to understand that you have rights. A dedicated criminal lawyer can help you understand your next steps and advance a legal defense based on the specific facts of your case. San Bernardino and Riverside County attorney Gregory H. Comings advocates for defendants in areas including Palm Springs, Temecula, Palm Desert, Fontana, Indio, Redlands, and Highland as well as Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville and Riverside. We can be reached by telephone at (951) 686-3457 or you can use our online form to schedule an appointment.