California strictly regulates the use of firearms. Individuals can face criminal charges even for carrying a firearm in public. Actually discharging a firearm is treated more seriously in the court system. The court can prosecute this act under California Penal Code Section 246: Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car.
You can strengthen your understanding of PC 246 and California’s other gun laws here. Let the Simmrin Law Group help you go over the specifics of a PC 246 charge and some defenses that can be used for individuals accused of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car.
Review the Definition of PC 246
Individuals may face charges under PC 246 if they purposefully and maliciously discharge a firearm at an:
- Inhabited House
- Inhabited Camper
- Inhabited House Car
- Occupied Building
- Occupied Aircraft
- Occupied Motor Vehicle
Note that individuals can be charged under PC 246 even if they don’t shoot a firearm directly at any of the above targets. Discharging a firearm close by a structure or vehicle that is inhabited or occupied can be enough to lead to PC 246 charges.
PC 246: Defining Inhabited and Occupied Targets
You should be aware that the state of California very clearly defines inhabited and occupied targets. “Inhabited” in this case refers to any home, camper, or house car where people are dwelling currently. The individuals dwelling in the structures do not have to be inside at the time of the shooting for PC 246 charges to apply.
Occupied targets – including buildings, aircrafts, and motor vehicles not being used as a dwelling – must have people inside them at the time of the shooting for PC 246 charges to apply.
PC 246: Defining Firearms
Only certain weapons are considered firearms in the state of California. In order to qualify as a firearm, a weapon must:
- Use Explosive Force or Combustion TO
- Discharge or Expel a Projectile
Rifles, shotguns, handguns, and revolvers are all examples of common firearms found in California.
Go Over the Penalties for a PC 246 Conviction
Gun crimes can be harshly punished in both the state court system and on the federal level in California. Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car is a felony charge prosecuted at the state level. A conviction can result in:
- Fines of Up to $10,000
- Jail Time of Up to One Year
- Prison Time of Up to Seven Years
Note that these penalties can be greatly increased if a victim suffers a great bodily injury or death due to the discharge of the firearm. In this case, individuals could end up facing:
- 25 Years in Prison
- Life in Prison
Individuals may also face harsh charges for misusing firearms in other situations if they violate:
- California Penal Code Section 246.3: Shooting In A Grossly Negligent Manner
- California Penal Code Section 247(b): Shooting At An Unoccupied Vehicle Or Building
Focus on Possible Defenses for PC 246 Charges in California
It’s important to build a defense quickly if you are accused of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer may be able to build a defense if you are accused of a PC 246 violation by arguing:
You Discharged a Firearm Accidently
PC 246 charges should only apply if you willfully and intentionally shoot a firearm into an inhabited dwelling or occupied car. If you accidentally fire a weapon, you may still face criminal charges, but you should not be convicted under PC 246.
You Discharged a Firearm in Self-Defense
California offers provisions for actions taken in self-defense in gun control laws. Some individuals may discharge a weapon because they reasonably believe they are facing the risk of great bodily injury or death. In this case, you may avoid a PC 246 conviction.
You Were Falsely Accused of Discharging a Firearm
There are cases that involve false accusations of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car in California. Your lawyer can go over the evidence around your case and your alibi if you were falsely accused of committing a PC 246 violation.
Get Help Handling PC 246 Charges Immediately
You can end up facing harsh penalties if you are convicted under California Penal Code Section 246: Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car. A criminal defense lawyer can boost your odds of beating these charges. Find out more about your legal options by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group. Call us at (310) 896-2723, or complete our online contact form.
You can find out more with a FREE initial case evaluation.