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Who Can Possess A Gun Legally Under California Law?


Gun ChargesLaw enforcement can legally possess and carry a gun; on or off duty under California Law. Other individuals allowed to have a gun legally are anyone who obtains a gun permit. The only problem in California is that it is very difficult to actually get a concealed weapon permit. There are exceptions however. For example, security guards under certain circumstances, are able to have a gun as well. It really depends on whether you have a job that requires you to utilize a gun. I do get a lot of clients who are security guards, who take their gun off the work property and end up getting arrested. You have to be really careful, especially in Los Angeles that you comply with all gun laws. Right now, with all of the shootings and gun violence across the country, they’re taking gun laws seriously.

What Ends Up Happening If You Get A Gun Charge, And It’s Serious Enough?

They take away your ability to ever own, use, or possess a weapon again. You want to be very careful that if you do have a weapon, that you deal with it lawfully. For example, when you’re going to transport a weapon you want to make sure that you’re transporting it the right way. The gun has to be in locked in one area and any ammunition has to be locked in another area. If you have the gun and the ammunition together in any way, and the police pull you over, they’re going to arrest you. You’re potentially facing the loss of your gun rights.

Who Is Prohibited From Owning Or Possessing A Gun Under California Law?

Under California law anyone can have a gun in their home. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s the right type of gun. You can’t have an assault rifle with the ability to rapidly Load and Reload the gun. Anyone who is a felon cannot own, use, or possess a gun or bullets. I’ve had clients get caught with one bullet get arrested and charged. The people that cannot have a gun are felons or anybody on criminal probation ordered not to have a gun. In other words again if you’re in your home and you’re not a felon.

If you’re in your business you can probably have a gun to protect your business. But once you go outside you cannot have a concealed weapon. You can’t have a weapon that people can see; at least not in the state of California. That’s where you get into problems. When you have a concealed weapon and the police stop, search you, find a weapon, and then they arrest you. Now, having possession of a weapon doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose your ability to have a weapon. It’ll depend on what you’re charged with; whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor. It also depends on what you were doing, what your criminal record looks like, and ultimately how the plea bargain works out between your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge.

Can The Spouse Of a Convicted Felon Own A Gun In their Home?

As a probationer or a convicted felon, you run a huge risk by living in a home that has a weapon owned by your spouse. You yourself could definitely get in trouble. The police get people all the time. If a person is on probation and they have team search the person’s home and find a weapon. Then, because they are living in that home, they will be arrested. They will say, “That’s not my weapon. I don’t own that weapon.” It doesn’t matter. You have what’s called constructive possession of the weapon; meaning you have access to it. They don’t want felons having access to weapons. They’re much more likely to do something violent and dangerous according to law.

Felons run a huge risk if there’s a weapon in the location that they’re living. The person whose weapon it is would be fine because they’re allowed to have that weapon in their home; as long as they’re not a felon. The only time they would have to give up that weapon is if you’re living with a felon or someone on felony probation who has search terms in the Probation Department. They can come in and search and you can’t stop it. Say why I don’t have any search terms I don’t live with somebody who’s on felony probation for example. So that’s the right that the person gives up who owns a home or the gun who’s not a felon. This is because they’re living with somebody who doesn’t have the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Are Specific Types Of Guns Illegal In Los Angeles, California?

While most guns are legal in California, assault rifles are illegal if they have the capability to rapidly take the magazine out and put another one in. What they’re trying to guard against is a situation which happened years ago. A couple of people robbed a bank, they had assault rifles that could shoot multiple rounds and then quickly be reload. This really put the police in a difficult position. A lot of times the police are not equipped to deal with somebody like that. Now, more and more, the police themselves are driving around with assault weapons. They can match up against somebody who has one. There’s a bullet pin on assault weapons which prevents somebody from firing all the rounds, taking out the cartridge, and putting another one in very quickly.

A lot of times people take that bullet pinout. They can rapidly reload the gun and that makes it an illegal assault rifle. A lot of time people are buying assault rifles that are legal and then making them illegal by taking this bullet pinout. Or they’re buying assault rifles in another state, like Arizona, and then bringing it to California. Right now in California, if you’ve got an assault rifle that’s not legal. If the police get it; they’re going to arrest you. They’re going to charge you with assault rifle charges which have a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence. California, as far as controlling guns, is probably one of the strongest states in the nation. You do not want to have a legal assault rifle here in California.

There are other weapons that are illegal. Usually, they’re military-grade weapons. Bu most handguns are legal, as long as you go through the proper channels and processes to get a handgun. You go through the waiting period. Usually getting it through a licensed gun dealer is your best bet. Make sure that your gun is registered. That’s another area where people are getting arrested. When they don’t have a registered gun. Family member passes away, they inherit the gun, but they don’t register the gun and now they’re walking around and asking for a problem. It’s going to be their discretion whether they want to believe your excuse about it and they can arrest you and charge you with possession of an unregistered weapon. Here in California, we control guns. So if you don’t do things the right way, and they get their hands on you with the weapon, they’re going to charge you.

Will I Be Taken To Jail If I Am Caught In Possession Of A Gun Illegally in California?

In California, if you’re caught with a concealed gun in public and you don’t have a concealed weapon permit then you will be arrested and your gun will be confiscated. Usually, prosecutors will ask to have the gun destroyed at the end of the case. They’re looking to prevent law enforcement from having a problem if somebody gets angry and shoots the police in a confrontation. That is obviously the most dangerous situation for the police.

If you get caught with a concealed weapon, you will be arrested, your gun will be taken away, and you will be sent into court to be dealt with by the prosecutor and the judge. Potentially losing your ability to possess weapons in future and be put you in jail. This is depending upon the circumstances of the arrest and your criminal record. If they think you’re about to commit a crime they’re going to be much harsher on you versus someone who forget they have their gun on them and are coming from a firing range.

If I’m Caught Carrying Without A Concealed Carry Permit In LA County, Could I Just Get A Warning?

L.A. County police can always give you a warning and let you go for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Just like a traffic ticket. When it comes to a gun I would say that it is highly unlikely. In California, when they catch you with a gun illegally it is unlikely that they’re going to give you a warning. They’re likely to arrest you. They are looking for gun convictions because it looks good on their resume that they caught somebody illegally with a gun. They’re looking to control the possibility of gun violence. If you step out of line related to a gun, assume that you’re going to be arrested by the police and you’re going to be prosecuted for that gun possession. You’re going to want to get an attorney because there are all sorts of things that they can do to you.

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Call For A Free Strategy Session
(213) 374-3952

Your attorney is in a good position to tell your side of the story; to point out that you just made a mistake. Instead of that you were going to do something criminal with the gun. That’s when they start to put restrictions on your ability to own, use or possess a weapon.

Will A Concealed Carry License From Another State Be Recognized In LA County?

Los Angeles County has its own requirements for your ability to have a concealed weapon that supersede licenses from other counties. I’ve had clients who had concealed weapons permit in other states, get caught in California with a concealed weapon, and get charged. The prosecutors don’t care that in other states they’re able to possess a weapon. Here in California, you have to realize how restrictive this state is, especially in Los Angeles County. They are pretty harsh when it comes to gun laws. Even if you have a gun permit in Oregon that’s not going to be good enough here in California. You probably have a better chance of getting a gun permit in California if you have a permit from another state.

Los Angeles is one of the toughest locations to get your weapons permits. A lot of people will go into Ventura County which is more gun-friendly to try to get that permit. You have a better chance to get it there than you would in Los Angeles.

Can I Ever Use A Firearm For Self-Defense In California?

If somebody is coming at you with deadly force, in an unlawful manner, you can certainly use a firearm to defend yourself. This is particularly prevalent if somebody breaks into your home. If you feel like they’re going to do harm to you or your family members. You can use a weapon to defend yourself not your home. It is likely to be justified; using a weapon when somebody broke into your home. The better question is what about if somebody attacked you out on the street. The problem with this you shouldn’t have a weapon out on the street unless you have a concealed weapons permit. This is very difficult if not impossible to get. If somebody came at you with deadly force on the street, if you happen to have a weapon, and you used that weapon to defend yourself then you may have a self-defense argument. But, you would have no argument in relation to having a concealed weapon out on the streets.

You would not be justified in having a weapon out in public. On the one hand, you may be able to defend and get off. On the assault with a deadly weapon charge or whatever they charge you for firing your weapon on city streets. On the other hand, you would take a felony or a misdemeanor conviction related to actually having a weapon in public. There are circumstances where somebody can use a weapon. They’re few and far between. It’s a slippery slope to be using a weapon in Los Angeles California to defend yourself because there are so many potentials for problems. Such as, some innocent bystanders could get hurt. The other party of course is going to claim something different than what you claim related to the justification to use the weapon.

The answer to the question is yes, there are circumstances where you can use deadly force to defend yourself. But, it is not recommended and you should figure out another way because you really put yourself in a precarious position when you use a weapon out in public.

Could I Face Charges And Arrest For Carrying A BB Gun In Los Angeles County?

It’s not necessarily illegal to carry a B.B. gun in Los Angeles County. The problem becomes a lot of times people cannot tell the difference between a B.B. gun and a real gun. If you become angry with somebody or use a weapon during a crime then you could be charged for that. Even if it turns out that the weapon that you’re using is a B.B. gun. We don’t want people in public to even have B.B guns either because that gives the potential for a dangerous situation to erupt. Say for example pull out your B.B. gun, someone sees it, they don’t realize it to be a BB gun, and then they pull out a real gun and start firing. The point is you don’t want to be rolling around with a B.B gun out in public because someone could mistake it for a real gun.

If you point a B.B. gun at somebody in a road rage situation you’re going to end up getting charged with a crime. You might drive away from the scene, somebody gets your license plate, and then you’re charged with using a real gun. The question becomes if they know whether it’s a real gun or fake. Now you got to defend yourself.

Can I Be Arrested And Charged If My Gun Doesn’t Even Work?

I can think of a number of different scenarios where you could get arrested for using a non-functioning gun. For example, in a road rage situation you point a gun at somebody even if it doesn’t work, even if it’s unloaded, you’re going to get charged with assault with a deadly weapon. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter that it’s unloaded. The point is it is dangerous to be waving guns around in public. As a criminal defense attorney, in the last 25 years I’ve personally seen people are using B.B. guns, pellet guns, fake guns unloaded guns, broken guns. They were out in public and doing things they’re not supposed to do; committing crimes and using the gun to help them commit the crime. That person is going to be charged just like it’s a real gun.

The only difference is that if the police get them while they have that gun and it’s unloaded. It’s determined that it was a pellet gun or BB gun then certainly I would be able to argue as a defense attorney that a fake gun or BB gun is less dangerous than somebody with a real loaded gun. I have made that argument and I’ve been able to mitigate a lot of cases because it’s a fake gun, unloaded gun or a broken gun. That doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever you did related to that weapon like using or possessing is going to be forgiven.

It actually depends on the circumstances, depends on what you did, and depends on whether you can make the argument that you didn’t do anything unlawful; just the possession of a broken unloaded gun. That would be a pretty good argument that you didn’t do anything wrong. Again, you’ve got to be careful. These prosecutors and judges would try anything to bring a conviction when it relates to you doing something with the gun.

Can I Get Off With Just Probation On A Guns Or Weapons Charge In LA County?

A lot of people will get probation in Los Angeles County when it comes to a gun. It depends on what you were doing with the gun. If it’s a misdemeanor you will always get probation when it comes to possession of a gun because they can’t send you to prison. If it’s a felony then it’s a question as to whether or not you could actually get probation. Which depends on your criminal record and how dangerous you were or how you were actually using the weapon. I see people getting out of prison on first-time gun possession; even if the person is a gang member. If someone is using a weapon and also a gang members, that would put the person in a bad position. I’ve haven’t seen anyone going to prison for three years for a first offense.

If I Did Not Know My Gun Was Loaded, Can That Be Used As A Defense In My Case?

Not knowing that you gun wasn’t loaded in not going to be a defense. It’s a general intent crime. If you have a weapon and it’s loaded you’re going to get charged if the police find out about it. They’re going to try and convict you over it. If you made a mistake and you show that you made a mistake, then that’s certainly something mitigating that your attorney can show the prosecutors related to possession of that weapon. That prosecutor will listen to but you would still be guilty of the crime and you’re not going to be able to use the defense, “I did not realize that I had a gun with me,” or, “I did not know that the gun was loaded,” Under those circumstances it is called a general intent crime, not a specific intent crime. So again, merely possessing a loaded gun is good enough to charge and convict you.

Can Someone Be Convicted Of a Gun Charge If A Gun Wasn’t Found?

It is possible to be convicted of a gun crime if the gun wasn’t discovered. You’d have to think of this scenario where you are charged with possession of a gun but you actually did not have it. However, let’s think of that scenario. For example, if someone claimed to see a person walking around with a gun, called the police, and that person gets rid of the gun. It is conceivable that if that eyewitness could point out the person, point out the gun, describe the gun, and it was believable; that person could be arrested and charged with that gun. You don’t necessarily need to have the person with the gun in order to charge them. Many times people commit a robbery with a gun and they get away. When they catch them a week later and don’t find the gun. Does that mean that they can’t be charged? No, they can be charged.

If they have it on video. Say they’ve got an eyewitness that saw you with a gun. They don’t necessarily have to catch you with the gun in order to charge you with possessing and using the gun. You just have to be able to have evidence to back up an allegation in order to charge for a conviction. If they think they can win, then they’re going to charge you. Then you have to assess with your attorney whether or not it makes sense. You have to fight that the possession charge might be circumstantial evidence unless the prosecutors can prove that you possessed a weapon.

I Was Arrested And Charged Prior To Receiving My Weapons License. How Can My Case Be Handled?

That depends on if you had the gun at that time of the arrest even though you didn’t have your license or if you did not have the gun because you received it a week later. Technically, if you did not have a concealed weapons permit then yes they can still charge you with the crime. The prosecutor and the court should decide what to do with you. You have to realize that you can get a conviction for possessing a gun. The bottom line is that it is better for you to you make sure that you’ve got a concealed weapon permit or you have some lawful justification for possessing a weapon out in public. You can possess a weapon in your home, in your business, or office. But once you take it out in the public either on a concealed basis or out in the open, you run the risk of being arrested, charged, and put on probation or of being convicted and going to jail and losing your ability to own the firearm in the future.

Can I Be Charged With Illegal Weapons Possession If A Gun Was Found At A Traffic Stop In My Possession?

If a loaded gun is discovered at your traffic stop then they can charge you with that. If a person does separate the gun and the bullet. Gun would have to be locked in the glove compartment and you have the bullets locked in the trunk of the car, you are good in that scenario but unfortunately, a lot of people drive with a loaded weapon even if the weapon locked up, it doesn’t matter because you have access to it. You could quickly open your glove compartment and use it. That’s what they’re trying to prevent. This and people driving around and the bullets and the gun close to each other. That’s a problem as well because they believe that you can quickly load that gun and use it. That’s what they don’t want people to have the ability to do. If you’re just transporting and you have the bullets locked in one area and the gun is locked in another area then you’re going to be OK.

For more information on Owning A Gun Legally Under California Law, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 374-3952 today.

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Call For A Free Strategy Session
(213) 374-3952

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