In Los Angeles you are not allowed to sell, rent out, or give away a firearm without a valid permit. Even if you have a valid permit, you can only sell the type of firearm it specifies. Unfortunately, it’s easy for responsible gun owners to break this law without even realizing it—and it carries hard jail time for each gun sold. If you have been arrested for selling or giving away a gun, do not take changes with your future. You need to talk to a Los Angeles lawyer who understand unlicensed sale of firearms charges.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we have dedicated ourselves to helping those accused of breaking gun laws and other offenses. We understand that California’s gun laws are complex, strict and hard to follow. We don’t believe you should go to jail for making a mistake. Let us put our legal experience to work for you. We offer a free consultation to help you understand your case and get started. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as an “unlicensed” sale or transfer of a firearm?
A California state law known as Penal Code 26500 makes it illegal to sell, lease or transfer firearms without a license to do so.
This applies to any type of firearm, defined as:
…that fires a projectile…
…using the force of an explosion or combustion.
That includes all traditional firearms as well as tasers, rocket launchers, and flare guns. It does not include pellet guns or BB guns. Antique firearms are also exempt as long as they are not loaded.
Are there exceptions?
Yes. The number of exceptions is one of the reasons the law is so complex. For example, none of these groups need a permit to sell/transfer guns, even if a transfer takes place:
Target ranges or gun clubs that rent guns solely for use on the premises
Anyone taking a gun to a gunsmith to be repaired
Anyone who inherited a gun and simply wants to dispose of it
Foreign government if authorized by the US Department of State
Sales among manufacturers, importers and dealers authorized by the government
Performers using unloaded guns in a play, movie or other production
Anyone selling at a gun show, subject to strict limits (see below)
How does the gun show exception work for firearm sales?
This is one of the most common situations among dedicated gun enthusiasts. Essentially, you are allowed to sell some guns—with no permit—at gun shows/gun events. This comes with its own set of rules:
You cannot sell or transfer handguns
You must comply with all other laws regarding gun sales
You cannot sell or transfer guns at more than 12 shows in a calendar year
You cannot sell/transfer more than 15 guns at any one show
Additionally, you cannot sell/transfer more than 75 guns in a year
As you can see, even the “exceptions” involve red tape and strict rules of their own. Many people think they are doing everything correctly and don’t realize they’re actually breaking the law.
What are the penalties for unlicensed sale of a firearm?
The penalties are much harsher than you’d expect. Although unlicensed sale is a misdemeanor, its penalties include:
Up to 6 months in jail, and
Up to $1,000 in fines
For each gun sold or transferred
That means that is you sold three guns, you could face three separate charges and a sentence for each one. Potentially, you could spend years in jail for a single nonviolent offense.
How do you win against an unlicensed firearm sale charge?
There are many ways to fight this kind of charge. The one you should use depends on the specifics of what happened, and how police found out about the alleged sale or transfer. Some of the most effective defenses include:
Entrapment. Many gun sale arrests come from undercover operations. Basically, police go out posing as gun buyers and try to get someone to sell to them illegally. Police have to follow very specific rules in these operations, or the arrest is not valid. Specifically, they cannot pressure you to break the law. If you initially resisted selling the gun and were “talked into it,” you may have an entrapment defense.
Illegal search and seizure. How did the police find or recover the gun(s)? In some cases, police may not have had a legal right to search a person, vehicle or location—even if they claim that they did. Search rules are complex, but an illegal search may mean you win your case.
Valid exception. Police cannot remember every detail of every law. It’s possible to be arrested for unlicensed sale, even if you qualify for an exception to the law. A lawyer can help you review whether any exceptions apply.
Police misconduct. Sometimes officers lie. Sometimes their reports are wrong. Some may coerce confessions, violate your Miranda protection, or otherwise violate your civil rights. Any of these could be grounds for suppressing evidence or dismissing the case.
Remember that prosecutors are overworked and look for easy wins. Simply by having a lawyer and presenting a valid defense, you send a strong message that you won’t go down easily. In many cases this is enough to get an offer with no jail time. Other times, we may be able to win your case entirely.
Talk to a Los Angeles Unlicensed Sale of Firearms Lawyer for Free
The Simmrin Law Group is on your side. We have the legal knowledge and the courtroom experience to win cases—and we care. 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.