Individuals in California can face harsh legal consequences for the unsafe use of a firearm. The state has a number of gun control laws on the books, including California Penal Code Section 246.3: Shooting in a Grossly Negligent Manner.
Negligent discharge of a firearm involves a very specific set of actions. Find out more about this charge here with the Simmrin Law Group. You can go over all aspects of the legal definition of this offense, the results of a conviction, and some possible legal defenses.
PC 246.3: California’s Legal Definition
The court system in California can charge an individual with shooting in a grossly negligent manner if they:
- Intentionally Fire Either a BB Device or a Firearm
- While Demonstrating Gross Negligence
- In a Way That Could Have Caused an Injury or Death
Note that only individuals who intentionally shoot a firearm or BB device should face PC 246.3 charges. Accidental shootings are not prosecuted as a negligent discharge of a firearm in California.
Defining Gross Negligence
Gross negligence is not merely a dramatic descriptor. This phrase has a specific meaning in California’s legal system. Individuals demonstrate gross negligence when they behave recklessly in a way that exposes another person to the risk of:
- Great Bodily Injury OR
Individuals must also act in a way that would be seen as dangerous and reckless by a reasonable person to be considered grossly negligent.
Defining Firearms and BB Devices
California defines firearms as weapons that discharge or expel a projectile by means of an explosion or combustion. Examples of common firearms can include:
BB devices are tools that expel projectiles by means of:
- Air Pressure
- Gas Pressure
- Spring Action
BB devices are generally less hazardous than firearms. However, individuals can still be charged under PC 246.3 for discharging a BB device in a dangerous way.
PC 246.3: Penalties for a Conviction
A charge for shooting in a grossly negligent manner can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor charges are always used for the discharge of a BB device. The discharge of a firearm may be treated more seriously, depending on the specific facts of the situation. The penalties for these charges vary, as you can see below:
Misdemeanor PC 246.3 Penalties:
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
- Fines: Up to $1,000
Felony PC 246.3 Penalties:
- Jail Time: Up to Three Years
- Fines: Up to $10,000
Note that individuals may face up to four additional years in prison if they negligently discharge a firearm as part of gang activity. You should also be aware that individuals can face more serious charges for intentionally discharging a firearm towards certain structures. This action can lead to charges under:
- California Penal Code Section 246: Shooting At An Inhabited Dwelling Or Occupied Car
- California Penal Code Section 247(b): Shooting At An Unoccupied Vehicle Or Building
PC 246.3: Possible Legal Defenses
You do not have to face PC 246.3 charges on your own in California. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you develop a defense to negligent discharge of a firearm charge. Depending on your unique situation, a lawyer may be able to argue:
You Were Acting in Self-Defense
You have the right to protect yourself and others in California. If you discharged a firearm or BB device because you reasonably believed you needed to do so to prevent a great bodily injury or your death, you may be able to avoid PC 246.3 charges.
You Did Not Intentionally Discharge a Firearm or BB Device
PC 246.3 charges specify that you must ask intentionally to discharge a firearm or BB device. If you accidentally shot a gun or BB device, perhaps because you thought the device was not loaded, you could avoid prosecution for negligent discharge of a firearm.
You Did Not Endanger Anyone Else
Part of gross negligence involves discharging a firearm or BB device in a way that could injure or kill another person. If you fired a gun or BB device far away from other people, you would not be demonstrating gross negligence and could avoid a PC 246.3 conviction.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer Now
You can improve your odds of beating a California Penal Code Section 246.3: Shooting in a Grossly Negligent Manner charge by getting immediate help from the Simmrin Law Group. Let our criminal defense lawyers go over your legal options with a FREE case evaluation.
Start building your defense now by filling out our online contact form, or calling (310) 896-2723.