Obviously, it's illegal to bring in any sort of a weapon into a courthouse in Los Angeles County. Of the thirty courthouses, every single one has multiple metal detectors at the door. A lot of them will not even let you bring in a belt.
You have to take it off and put it through the metal detector. There's a whole list of items that are not permitted inside a particular courthouse. What they're really looking out for is public safety and making sure that nobody does anything inappropriate while inside the criminal court in Los Angeles.
Protection of the Public
California Penal Code §171b is really protecting judges, prosecutors and the general public. It applies to courthouses and it also applies to buildings. So anywhere where people have to be in there and it's a public building, so that would obviously cover any Los Angeles county courthouse, no weapons are permitted.
So, at this point now, because I've been going through these metal detectors now for twenty-five years – the metal detectors are pretty sensitive at most of the courthouses. They vary.
But the bottom line is, they're not going to let anything in. You can't come in with a lighter, a knife or any type of safety pin. Anything that can cause damage – obviously, regular knives and guns are prohibited – no taser guns.
The sheriffs are armed in the courthouses, but they obviously don't want anybody else harmed in there, especially when there are defendants in there who are charged with very serious crimes.
The bottom line is, if you get caught bringing a weapon into a courthouse, there's a good chance they're going to try to send you to prison – especially if they can make the determination that the reason that you brought the weapon in is because you were trying to do something unlawful with the weapon – either help a defendant escape, go after a judge or a prosecutor – these are the types of crimes that will get you multiple years in prison.
So, if you're charged with bringing a weapon inside a courthouse, you're going to want to get a good attorney very quickly to assess everything, go over your case with you and help you make a decision as to whether you're going to fight the case or whether it's the type of case that should be negotiated as part of a plea bargain.
Defenses To Bringing A Weapon Into A Courthouse In Los Angeles
One defense might be that whatever it is they are claiming is a weapon, is not a weapon. We had one case where an attorney actually was given a fake gun.
It was a lighter gun and it was part of the case and he brought it through the metal detector not knowing that it was even in his briefcase, but obviously, that's not a weapon.
It was a lighter and he's not going to be charged, especially since he didn't realize that the gun was in his briefcase. Sometimes it's not so clear. Sometimes people are bringing things in that do look like weapons, could cause damage to somebody, but it's clear from the surrounding circumstances and facts that the person wasn't bringing it in to do anything wrong and just basically either didn't think about the fact that they had it or forgot they had it.
However, the key is that they had no criminal purpose in bringing whatever it is that it's being designated as a weapon. So, that would be the first defense, which is that whatever it is, is not a weapon and is not intended to be used as a weapon.
“I forgot” is usually not going to work if you're bringing a gun in. That happens all the time in the airports. It's the same thing in the courthouse. You can't forget and bring a gun inside the courthouse and try to use that as a defense. It's not going to work.
There are other items and circumstances where it could work – where you could have a defense – where you could have no knowledge as to the dangerous nature of whatever you brought in and maybe you don't even remember that you brought it into the court.
A lot of times that's kind of a judgment call on the part of the sheriffs and then on the part of the prosecutors in Los Angeles if they get one of these weapons in a courthouse case.
So, if you've got a weapon in a courthouse case, give me a call, we'll sit down and go over everything. Give me all the details and facts. Don't omit anything.
Be honest about what happened in the privacy of my office and we can make some good judgment calls for you to give you some peace of mind moving forward as to exactly what you're up against, what you're looking at, what you can do to help in your possession of a weapon in a courthouse and hopefully we can either get the case dismissed, get a lesser charge, or get it set-up to do damage control to get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.
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