It would certainly be a crime if someone intentionally shot a weapon at an unoccupied car or building. The Penal Code Section that you would be charged under would be 247b.
Obviously, we don't want people out in public firing weapons. The key to this one is though, there is a big difference between shooting at an unoccupied vehicle and shooting at an occupied vehicle.
If you know that the vehicle is unoccupied, it's obviously not as dangerous, but it's still illegal pursuant to Penal Code §247B. If on the other hand, the vehicle was occupied, that would be a lot more dangerous.
Somebody could die and there's a different Penal Code Section in Los Angeles County that is utilized to prosecute that particular offense.
It's the same that goes for a building. Obviously, we don't want people shooting at buildings. That's how people get hurt. Bullets go through the building and hit other people. So, it is illegal pursuant to Penal Code §247B to shoot at a building, even if it is unoccupied.
Defenses To Shooting At Unoccupied Vehicle Or Building
The defenses to these crimes would be obvious if the owner gave you permission to shoot at their building or shoot at their vehicle. Then you cannot be prosecuted pursuant to Penal Code §247B.
Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to be prosecuted for another California Penal Code Section in one of the Los Angeles courthouses. Permission is a defense in both shooting at an unoccupied vehicle and shooting at an unoccupied building if the owner gives you permission to do that.
Another defense would be that you accidentally or inadvertently fired a weapon at a vehicle or at a building.
This knowledge requirement is important, and you may be able to get hit with a negligent discharge charge depending on the circumstances of the shooting, but you certainly could get prosecuted for Penal Code §247B if, in fact, the shooting was at an unoccupied building or an unoccupied vehicle and it was done accidentally.
There are other defenses related to this Penal Code §247B crime, but those defenses are going to be driven by the circumstances of the case.
The bottom line, especially with the legislature, judges and the police being so particular and concerned about the gun use in Los Angeles County, firing any weapon at any building, any home or any vehicle, you're really going to put yourself in a bad position.
Prosecutors are going to be looking to take away your weapon rights. They are going to be looking to send you to jail and teach you a lesson so that you never fire a weapon in public again.
Penalties For California Penal Code § 247b
Some of the punishments will depend on the circumstances. If it's filed as a misdemeanor you could be looking at tome County jail time, a fine, community service, Caltrans and other punishments related to taking your weapon rights away for the whole probationary period or even indefinitely, depending on the circumstances of the case.
There are circumstances that if it's dangerous enough you could also be hit with a felony charge. Then you would be looking at up to three years in state prison in Los Angeles County.
So, the bottom line is this. You do not want to fire a weapon at a vehicle. You do not want to fire a weapon at a building or a home. Anyone of those will get you in a bad position. You'll be prosecuted. They'll use 247B even if it is an unoccupied vehicle or an unoccupied building.
Contact our Law Firm for Help
So, make the decision now not to do that. If you are charged with this crime, I've been dealing with these cases for twenty-five years. We get you in and talk about why you fired the weapon and the circumstances. We get your version of events out, character letters and really try to show the prosecutor that you're not a bad person, you're not dangerous and we try to get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible. Contact the Hedding Law Firm to review your case.