The law for concealed carry is different in California when compared to other states. California Penal Code 25400 PC, or the state’s “carrying a concealed weapon” law, has made it a crime to carry a concealed weapon. This law applies whether the gun is inside your vehicle or on your person.
There are exceptions to this very strict rule, though, and meeting the requirements would give you the chance to secure a concealed carry permit in California. However, it’s also vital that you understand all the penalties and consequences for carrying a concealed weapon in the state.
What Are the Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
Carrying a handgun openly and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit are both illegal in the state of California. A conviction on either charge can result in heavy penalties. The potential consequences for both charges are generally the same.
A violation of California Penal Code Section 25400 can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on several factors. If charged as a misdemeanor, some of the potential consequences include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Summary probation
The judge will consider the following before deciding your penalty:
- Any acts of violence you have committed in the past
- Your criminal history
- Evidence that you planned to use the gun
- Your failure to cooperate with law enforcement
If your violation of PC 25400 is processed as a felony, the potential consequences can greatly increase. A felony conviction could mean:
- Up to three years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Formal probation
The following circumstances might cause your concealed weapon case to be deemed a felony:
- Previous convictions of a firearm offense or felony in the state
- Knowingly carrying a stolen firearm
- Being involved in a gang
- Illegally possessing the firearm
- Being banned from carrying a firearm due to a restraining order or previous conviction
- Previous misdemeanor conviction against people or property
- Previous drugs or narcotics conviction
These charges are quite serious and can have a dramatic impact on your life. It’s important that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf to minimize your legal penalties.
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Potential Defenses Against a Violation of PC 25400 Charge
There are several potential defenses your lawyer can use to help protect you against a charge for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. Some of the most common defenses used in these cases are:
- Unknowingly carrying a firearm
- You have a concealed carry permit
- The weapon was discovered during an illegal search
- The firearm was in your residence or place of business
- The gun was properly stowed for transportation
Unknowingly Carrying a Firearm
Knowledge of the weapon’s presence in your possession is a critical element when it comes to a charge for illegal possession of a concealed firearm. If someone else placed the weapon on your person or in your vehicle without your knowledge, you are not guilty of a violation of PC 25400.
However, this defense can often be difficult to prove. Also, not realizing you had a weapon on you because you forgot you had placed it in your purse, suitcase, vehicle, etc., is not a valid excuse. The gun must have been placed there by someone else.
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You Have a Concealed Carry Permit
If you meet all the qualifications and have obtained a special permit for carrying a concealed weapon, you are not guilty of illegally carrying a concealed weapon. You must be able to prove that you had a valid permit at the time you were charged.
The Weapon Was Discovered During an Illegal Search
Even if you did technically violate the law regarding illegally carrying a concealed weapon, you may be able to get the charge dismissed. If the firearm was discovered as part of an illegal search, the charge is invalidated. A police officer must have either a search warrant, your permission, or reasonable cause to search your person, vehicle, or other property.
The Firearm Was in Your Residence or Place of Business
If you are otherwise legally allowed to own a gun, carrying that weapon in your home or a business that you own is not a violation of PC 25400.
The Gun Was Properly Stowed for Transportation
You can have a gun in your vehicle in California, as long as you are otherwise legally allowed to own the weapon, and you properly stow it away for transportation. It is legal to carry a firearm in the trunk of your vehicle or in a locked container within your vehicle (excluding the glovebox).
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Who Can Apply for a Concealed Carry Permit in California?
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in “Peruta v. County of San Diego” that the right of California’s citizens to bear concealed guns is not protected by the Second Amendment. And since the U.S. Supreme Court has refused any challenge to the ruling, the concealed carry ban in California remains in effect.
However, you can obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. If you plan on applying for a Carrying Concealed Weapons permit (CCW) in California, you must meet all the following guidelines:
- Display good moral character
- Show cause to justify the permit (ex. you or your loved ones are in danger, and the threat can be reduced if you have a concealed firearm)
- Completion of a firearms training class
- Be a resident or run a business in the city or county from which you are securing a CCW license
How Do You Apply for a CCW?
Application procedures for concealed carry permits differ between counties. This is because the local authorities (ex. police chiefs and county sheriffs) determine the process for issuing CCW licenses.
The first step typically entails that you pass a standardized application sheet and pay the required fees. You’ll then be scheduled for an interview and fingerprinted. The issuing agency can also demand another interview and a psychological assessment.
Why Were You Disqualified Even After Meeting All Legal Requirements?
Even if you have met the state’s legal requirements for getting a CCW, your application can still be denied because of your records or past behavior. For instance, you will be disqualified from obtaining a CCW permit if you have been convicted of specific misdemeanors, a domestic violence offense, or any felony.
You will also be denied a concealed carry permit if you have been diagnosed with mental illness or are addicted to narcotics.
Bear in mind that even if you are granted a license, there are several other laws that you must obey regarding carrying and using a firearm. Some California gun laws ban certain kinds of sidearms and explosives or will not allow you to carry guns outside the home.
What if You Carried the Weapon From a Different State?
If you have a concealed weapon permit from another state, you still do not have the right to carry a concealed weapon in California. Gun laws for the state of California apply to everyone, even if you are not a resident.
Moreover, carrying a concealed weapon without a state-sanctioned permit puts you at risk of being fined up to $10,000, arrest, or felony prosecution for violating Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules.
Do You Lose the Right to Own Firearms After a Concealed Weapon Conviction?
Whether you will lose your right to own a firearm after a conviction for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon depends on how the charge is processed.
A misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is not enough to revoke your right to own a firearm. However, if the misdemeanor caused you to be placed as a ward of the juvenile court, you’ll be banned from owning or having a firearm until you are 30 years old.
Meanwhile, a felony conviction for a concealed weapon charge will result in the revocation of your right to bear or own guns in California. However, you can petition to have your right to possess firearms restored or secure a pardon from the governor of the state.
Obtaining Legal Representation After an Arrest
Being accused or charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in California can have severe repercussions on your life. You will need a reliable and experienced lawyer to ensure your rights are protected and you are defended well against these allegations.
Contact the Simmrin Law Group today to find out how we can help your case by giving us a call or filling out our easy online contact form.