In California, it is a crime to carry a concealed firearm. The crime can carry misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the specifics of the situation and the offender’s criminal history. California gun laws are strict and can be confusing. Weapons owners must understand all pertinent laws, including those for carrying a concealed weapon. No one can legally carry a concealed weapon, even unloaded, without a concealed carry license.
If you are charged with breaking CA Penal Code 25400 – Carrying a Concealed Firearm or Weapon (CCW), you will need a lawyer experienced in CCW cases to defend you. With a lawyer’s help, you may see your charges and punishment reduced or dismissed altogether.
When Can a Person Be Charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
According to California Penal Code 25400, individuals can be charged with CCW if they
- Carry “concealed within any vehicle that is under the person’s control or direction any pistol, revolver, or another firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.”
- Carry a concealed pistol, revolver, or other firearms on their bodies.
- Cause a concealed pistol, revolver, or other firearms to be carried inside a vehicle in which they are occupants.
The weapon does not have to be loaded for the carrier to be charged with CCW. There are separate laws and punishments for carrying a loaded weapon and openly carrying an unloaded weapon in a public area.
When Can a Person Be Convicted of Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
Prosecutors must prove three elements to win a conviction for CCW. First, they have to prove offenders concealed a weapon on their bodies or in a vehicle. Second, they must prove the offender was aware of the presence of the concealed weapon. Third, they must prove the weapon was truly concealed.
Even if the gun is partly visible, perhaps showing as a “gun-sized” bulge or as an identifiable gun outline, a person can be charged with CCW.
A gun carried in a hip holster is not considered concealed. While a person carrying a weapon openly cannot be convicted of CCW, they may face charges for violating other gun laws.
What Weapons Are Included in the Concealed Carry Law?
Pistols and revolvers, including any rifle, handgun, zipgun, or other firearms able to be “concealed on the person” are included under PC 25400. California Penal Code 16520 defines a firearm as any device that is “designed to be used as a weapon” and from which a “projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion” can be fired.
Rockets, rocket-propelled projectile launchers, or other devices with “explosive or incendiary” material are also included, even if the device is intended for emergency situations or emitting distress signals.
What Are the Penalties if Convicted of Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
If there are no aggravating factors, the CCW charge carries a misdemeanor punishment of up to one year in jail, and/or a fine not exceeding $1000. Judges have the discretion to put offenders on misdemeanor probation. Offenders must be charged with a felony if the following aggravating factors are present:
- Prior felony firearm convictions in California
- The firearm involved was stolen, and the offender was aware it was stolen
- The offender is an active member of a criminal gang.
- The offender is not the lawful owner of the firearm.
- The offender is banned from owning a firearm under California law.
The felony offense carries punishments of probation plus a year in county jail, 16 months to three years in county jail, and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Charges have “wobbler” status, meaning they can carry felony or misdemeanor charges, in these situations:
- The offender has prior convictions for misdemeanor crimes against a person or property or prior convictions for narcotics or dangerous drug crimes.
- The firearm is loaded, or the offender has ammunition readily available, and the offender is not the registered owner of the gun.
The offender’s criminal history and the specific circumstances of the offense determine whether felony or misdemeanor charges apply.
Minimum jail sentences apply to offenders convicted of prior felony or firearm offenses. Legal immigrants can be deported for violations of PC25400. Gun ownership rights can be affected by convictions, from suspensions to lifetime bans. Outcomes depend on the level of the charges.
What Defenses Can a Lawyer Offer for a Concealed Carry Charge?
Prosecutors must prove you knew you were carrying a weapon to get a conviction. If another person had a weapon in their pocket or purse and you held or wore that jacket or purse not knowing of the weapon inside, a conviction may not hold.
If you have legal permission to own a firearm, your lawyer can defend you based on the weapon’s location. CCW laws do not apply if the weapon was in the trunk or in a locked box inside of your vehicle, or in your home or place of business. In other circumstances, your lawyer may argue the weapon was seized in an illegal search.
Is Anyone in California Allowed to Carry a Concealed Weapon?
California’s ordinary citizens can only carry a concealed weapon if they have a concealed weapon permit. Carrying concealed unloaded or loaded weapons is illegal without that permit. California will only issue permits to citizens who
- Are of legal age to carry the weapon
- Show good moral character
- Have a valid reason for carrying
- Meet residency requirements
- Complete an approved course of training.
Permits are not issued to those diagnosed with mental illness, who have been hospitalized for mental illness multiple times in one year, who have restraining orders against them, who are addicted to drugs, or who have a specific felony or misdemeanor convictions.
Why You Need a California Concealed Carry Weapons Lawyer
A case involving a CA Penal Code 25400 – Carrying a Concealed Weapon charge becomes complicated quickly. The variety of factors affecting your case and the different potential outcomes require the expertise of a skilled defender. Secure legal representation from a California concealed carry weapons lawyer who will mount a vigorous defense, protecting your rights and advocating for you at every court proceeding.