It is important to fight criminal charges for a weapons offense vigorously. Being arrested or accused of a crime does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. California makes it a crime to unlawfully carry or possess firearms, and there are numerous other gun laws including the illegal sale of a firearm. Californians may legally own their weapons, and yet if a person is unaware of regulations, they may be wrongfully accused of a weapons offense. As a felony crime, weapons offenses can lead to imprisonment and a criminal record. The serious nature of a weapons offense demands rigorous legal defense by a skilled weapons offense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we represent individuals throughout Riverside accused of weapons offenses, pursuing a favorable outcome in every case.
California Penal Code Section 26100 makes it a crime to willfully or maliciously discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle. “Willfully” discharging the firearm means that the crime was committed on purpose. “Maliciously” refers to the intention to disturb, injure, or annoy another person.
The prosecution must show evidence of all elements of the “drive by shooting” offense under CA Penal Code Section 26100. This includes demonstrating that you or the passenger discharged a firearm willfully and maliciously while driving, from within the vehicle. If you were not driving, but you owned the vehicle at the time of the commission of the act, you may be charged with this crime.
You need not be present for the discharge of the weapon.
Severe consequences can result from a conviction under Penal Code Section 26100. The specific facts underlying your case dictate the penalties. Either a misdemeanor or felony conviction may result, depending on whether you or a passenger discharged the weapon, as well as other factors.
For example, if you discharged the weapon, you may face a more severe fine and longer imprisonment than if a passenger discharged the weapon. If someone was seriously injured or killed from the discharged firearm, you may be charged with a felony. This can result in up to three years in state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. If you fired your weapon at another person from your vehicle, automatically the crime will be charged as a felony. In addition to paying $10,000 in fines, you may face up to seven years in state prison.
As a “serious felony,” drive by shooting counts against you according to California’s Three Strikes sentencing laws. It will result in a strike on your criminal record. After you have a strike on your criminal record, an additional felony conviction will lead to harsher penalties. In some situations, it may lead to a prison sentence twice as long as otherwise stated. If you have two strikes, or more on your record, a conviction for felony drive-by shooting can lead to a sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment.
A legal defense strategically applied may result in a reduction or even dismissal of criminal charges. For instance, if you didn't know the passenger had a gun, this may be a strong defense for drive-by shooting charges. If the facts indicate the prosecution must prove that you knew the passenger brought a firearm into your car, and the weapon was concealed, perhaps you had no knowledge of the weapon.
If you did not allow a passenger to bring a weapon into your car, or to shoot the weapon, this may also be a strong defense. For example, if you were forced to allow a passenger to discharge the weapon because they held a gun to your head and committed the drive-by shooting while inside your vehicle, you may not be convicted of the crime.
Additionally, California's self defense law may apply. You are allowed to use force to defend yourself, under certain circumstances. First, you must reasonably believe that you or someone in your vehicle will suffer physical harm. And, you must only use an amount of force necessary to defend yourself. If these elements are met, you may be able to successfully show that you or your passenger acted out of reasonable concern for your safety.
At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we provide round-the-clock support to clients in need of compassionate and effective legal representation. If you or someone close to you is facing criminal charges for domestic violence, a weapons offense, or a drug crime, contacting an experienced Riverside attorney immediately can help. Attorney Comings and his team of professionals are prepared to assist you and your loved ones. To learn more about your case and legal options, contact our office at (951) 686-3457 or reach us online.