California makes it a crime to carry a loaded firearm in public or in your vehicle. Anyone who violates this rule can face jail time, even if it’s a first offense and even if you own the gun legally. In some cases it can even become a felony and carry lifelong consequences. Don’t let this happen. You need to talk to a lawyer about about any Los Angeles loaded firearm charge.
At the Simmrin Law Group, defending these cases is our job. We always take the side of the accused—and we have the experience and knowledge to win cases. We will defend you as if it’s our own family member facing the charges. Let us give you a free consultation to show you how we can help. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What’s the legal definition of carrying a loaded firearm in public?
The law is set forward by a state statute called Penal Code 25850. It makes it illegal to:
Carry any loaded firearm while
In any public place, or on a public street in an incorporated area (or certain unincorporated areas)
Under the law, “firearms” include any weapon that uses an explosive propellant. This can include:
Revolvers and handguns
It does not include any air-propelled weapons such as BB guns, pellet guns or paintball guns.
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Are there exceptions?
Yes. Police officers, military personnel, security guards, bank and armored vehicle guards, and certain professionals with a license known as POST certification are exempt from this law—while doing their jobs. You are also exempt if you:
Have a concealed carry permit, or
Are on the premises of a gun club where you are a member
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What counts as a “loaded” firearm?
Loaded can mean two things:
There’s a bullet or cartridge actually loaded in the chamber and ready to fire, or
There are bullets on the gun in a clip, magazine, etc. (even if nothing is in the chamber)
(This definition applies to modern guns. For antique firearms, “loaded” means that the gun is capped or primed, and that there is powder and a ball or shot in the muzzle/chamber.)
Importantly, a gun does not have to be operable to be “loaded.” Prosecutors will pursue loaded firearm charges even if the gun had a locking mechanism so it was impossible to fire. They can also pursue these charges even if the gun was damaged, sealed off or partly disassembled but still had a bullet loaded.
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What counts as a “public place”?
In Los Angeles, basically anywhere that is open to the public or readily accessible to the general public. This can include streets, parks, businesses, government buildings—just about anywhere.
If you are far out in the country in unincorporated areas, the law does not necessarily apply in all public places—but it does apply in “prohibited areas” such as a school, post office or government office.
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What defenses can I use against a loaded firearm charge in Los Angeles?
The defense will always depend on what exactly happened and the facts surrounding your case. However, it is possible to win these cases and there are strong defenses that can be used. These include:
You didn’t know you had a firearm. This defense works in situations where the firearm was not on your person, or where you were carrying someone else’s bag. If you were not aware of the firearm, you can win your case.
You didn’t know it was loaded. This defense really depends on the situation. It’s not a valid defense to just say you were ignorant of whether the firearm you were carrying was loaded—this will not win your case. However, if you had a good reason to believe the gun was not loaded, this can work as a defense.
You weren’t in a public place. Officers can get over-zealous when they see a gun, and make the arrest despite legal distinctions. Or they may simply not be aware whether the area you were in is incorporated or not.
Illegal search and seizure. If the police found the loaded gun by searching you or your property, and they didn’t have a legal right to do so at the time they performed the search, the entire case against you could be moot.
Self-defense. If you had good reason to believe you were in grave danger, and needed the gun to protect yourself, it may be possible to win a case against a loaded firearm charge.
When is carrying a loaded firearm a felony?
It is usually charged as a misdemeanor, but there are aggravating circumstances that can make it a felony. These aggravating circumstances include:
Having a prior conviction for a crime against a person, a crime against property, or certain drug crimes. Or,
You are not the registered owner of the firearm.
Even if one (or both) of these aggravating circumstances is present, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be charged with a felony—but the prosecutor has the option.
Additionally, there are circumstances where carrying a loaded firearm is automatically a felony. These are:
You have a prior felony conviction or any prior gun violation
The firearm was stolen (and you knew or should have known it was stolen)
You didn’t possess the gun legally
You are allegedly part of a street gang
What are the penalties for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place?
The penalties include:
Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines
Felony: Between 16 months and 3 years in county jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
Talk to a Los Angeles Loaded Firearm Lawyer for Free
Just because you were arrested for carrying a loaded firearm does not mean you have to be convicted. The Simmrin Law Group can defend your case and help you avoid jail time, avoid a felony conviction or even win your case outright. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.