In California, there are stringent laws related to the use and possession of weapons. These laws are established to ensure that citizens are safe, and there is no illegal use of weapons. That’s why there is a class of weapons referred to as prohibited weapons. It is unlawful to manufacture, sell, or possess these weapons in California. Violation of these regulations is illegal and may lead to imprisonment and hefty fines. The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm will aggressively represent you when accused of using, manufacturing, or possession of prohibited weapons in Los Angeles.
Generally Prohibited Weapons in California
All prohibited weapons in California are listed under Penal Code 16590 and are divided into several groups. These weapons are:
Prohibited firearms include weapons such as:
Rifles and shotguns with short barrels as defined under Penal Code 33215
Guns that are undetectable as defined under Penal Code 24610
Firearms that cannot be immediately recognized as firearms as described under Penal Code 24510
Unconventional pistols as described under Penal Code 31500
Zip gun, cane gun, or wallet gun as per the description provided under Penal Codes 33600, 24710, and 24410
Prohibited Ammunition and Equipment
Prohibited ammunition or equipment include weapons such as:
Containers used to camouflage firearms which are described under Penal Code 24310
Bullets with explosive agents, which are illustrated under Penal Code 30210
Trigger activators with multi burst capacity that are defined under Penal Code 32900
Magazine that can hold a lot of bullets as defined under Penal Code 32310
Prohibited Swords or Knives
Certain types of knives or swords are banned in California. These weapons include:
Cane swords which are described under Penal Code 21510
Ballistic knives as described under Penal Code21110
Lipstick case knives as defined under Penal Code 20610
Air-gauge knives as defined under Penal Code 20310
Writing pen knives as defined under Penal Code 20910
Shobi-zue (SZ) knives as described under Penal Code 20710
Prohibited Martial Arts Weapons
There are specific martial arts weapons that are not permitted in California. These weapons include:
Nunchakus which are described under Penal Code 22010
Shurikens as defined under Penal Code 22410
Apart from the weapons described above, other weapons are prohibited in California include:
Brass knuckles as defined under Penal Code 21810
Real or replica grenades used by the military as defined under Penal Code 19200
Leaded canes as described under Penal Code 22210
Sandbags, sand clubs, blackjacks, baton, and slungshot as described under Penal Code 22210
How Prohibited Weapons in California are Associated with Criminal Offenses
Under Penal Code 16590, it is a crime to import, manufacture, offer to sell, lend, or possess a prohibited weapon knowingly. During your prosecution, there are specific terms that rise while describing this statute. These terms include the meaning of knowingly and possession. Also, another question that arises is the meaning of exempt from prosecution. Here is an exclusive description of these elements.
To do something knowingly means that you did it with the due knowledge of its consequences. A person could be considered guilty under this statute if he or she knew that the object that he or she is dealing with is a weapon or is capable of being utilized as a weapon.
Please note, the prosecutor does not necessarily have to prove that you wanted to utilize the respective object as a weapon. The prosecutor only has to verify that you knew that the object could be used as a weapon for the judge to convict you.
Since certain types of firearms are considered prohibited weapons in California, it is crucial to learn how firearms are described. In California, guns are defined as devices designed as weapons and have dischargeable projectiles. The projectiles are discharged through a barrel after an explosion or combustion process.
Under California laws, possession of something can be actual or constructive. In actual possession, you have to hold the object or have immediate access to it. The weapon could be on you, or in something you are wearing or carrying, such as a backpack or purse. When it comes to constructive possession, you don’t have immediate access to the object but has control or the right to use or control it.
You can still be prosecuted if the prohibited weapon is inoperable apart from being convicted for having actual or constructive possession of the firearm. This statute intends to protect other people from any form of violation that the weapon might evoke. Therefore, since an inoperable weapon can still evoke certain offenses, you can still be prosecuted.
In California, adults can legally own long rifles, revolvers, conventional ammunition, conventional pistols, under strict regulations. However, it is a crime to sell, possess, or manufacture a legal firearm in California if you:
Have a prior felony conviction under any California law
Are a drug addict
Have at least two previous convictions for brandishing a weapon
Have a prior conviction for particular misdemeanors
Are a minor
Are suffering from a mental sickness
Exemptions under Penal Code 16590
Certain people and situations are exempted from prosecution under Penal Code 16590. These exemptions include:
Weapons that are sold, transferred or possessed by members of various law enforcement agencies
Possession of prohibited martial arts weapons by a martial arts school
Possession of relic ammunition or firearms by an antique or curio shop
Possession of prohibited weapons by museums, libraries, or as historical societies
Use of unloaded guns in the production of films
A person handing prohibited weapons over to a law enforcement agency
Possessing weapons by a forensic laboratory
Penalties for Violating Penal Code 16590
Violating Penal Code 16590 is considered a wobbler in California. Therefore, you can be prosecuted with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your crime’s nature or criminal record. If you are prosecuted with a misdemeanor, the potential punishment includes:
A maximum of one year in county jail
A fine of up to $1,000
If you are charged with a felony, the possible penalty that you face include:
A maximum of three years in jail
A fine of up to $10,000.
There are no immigration consequences that can befall a non-citizen after violating this statute. However, some aggravated felonies can make you as a non-citizen to be deported or marked as inadmissible.
Effects on Your Gun Rights
A conviction under Penal Code 16590 affects your gun rights. However, this only applies to those that are convicted for a felony crime. If you fall under this category, you are prohibited from owning or possessing a gun.
Possibility of Expungement
You can have your convictions expunged if you are accused of violating Penal Code 16590. However, your sentences are expunged after completing your probation or your jail term. Getting your convictions expunged will remove any hardship related to your convictions. This will help you gain meaningful employment or avoid any discrimination that comes with your previous convictions.
Legal Defenses for Violating Penal Code 16590
Once you are prosecuted for using, manufacturing, or possessing a generally prohibited weapon, it does not mean that you cannot contest the charges against you. Your attorney can challenge the charges to have them dismissed or reduced by employing relevant legal defenses. The legal arguments that are used by your attorney should dismiss the elements presented by the prosecution team. Here is a detailed view of some of the common legal defenses that your attorney can use.
The Weapon is not Generally Prohibited
There are specific weapons that fall under PC 16590. However, if your gun does not fall under the examples provided above, you cannot be prosecuted. For instance, if you possess an antique Queen Anne Flintlock pistol, it does not mean that it is prohibited in California. This type of gun has a 13-inch barrel, which falls short of the required measurement, which is 26 inches. If your rifle does not meet the particulars of a generally prohibited weapon, you cannot be prosecuted.
Lack of Knowledge
The prosecutor must demonstrate that you possessed, manufactured, or sold weapons that are generally prohibited in California. If you did not know the nature of the gun you bought, you should not be convicted for violating PC 16590. For instance, if you buy a cane with a six-inch steel blade at the end without knowing that it is a shobi-zue, you should not be convicted for possessing a prohibited weapon in California.
In most cases, police officers violate the constitutional rights of other people through various misconduct. Some common types of police misconduct include failure to read Miranda Rights and unlawful search and seizure. Police officers are required to read the Miranda Rights to you while arresting you. Failure to read out rights would be considered as a violation of your constitutional rights and would make all pieces of evidence collected during that time inadmissible in court.
When it comes to unlawful search and seizure, many police officers search the premises of an alleged offender without a court warrant. In such a situation, any evidence collected through the illegal search and seizure cannot be accepted in court.
Please note, in a situation where there is a form of police misconduct, it does not mean that the court will dismiss your case. They will continue with the prosecution process with other pieces of evidence that were collected lawfully.
Exemption to Possess a Prohibited Weapon
As stated above, there are specific weapons and people exempted from the law against prohibited weapons in California. If you fall under this category or are holding an exempted gun, you should not be prosecuted for violating PC 16590. All you need to do is prove that the weapon or your career allows you to possess prohibited weapons.
Apart from the weapons and people exempted from prohibited weapons, some specific people are authorized to carry a gun. Most of these people are permitted to carry weapons that are not listed under PC 16590. For instance, the Department of Justice approves firearm dealerships, which allows the licensee to deal with magazines with large carrier capacity to buyers from out of state.
Any allegations related to prohibited weapons cannot be considered valid in court if you hold such a license. However, you can still be prosecuted under a different statute, if you are arrested for illegal use of the weapons that you are handling.
Entrapment works when an offender proves that he or she was being coerced to engage in unlawful conduct. Generally, an ordinary person would resist being involved in criminal activity when presented with such an opportunity. However, if coercion led to your cooperation, this would not be considered a criminal activity. Your criminal defense lawyer could argue out that there is no element of willfully engaging in the crime.
For instance, if you are running an antique shop and a police officer insists on buying a writing pen from you, and you finally end up giving in to the demands to avoid his distraction, you will not be guilty of selling a prohibited weapon. The court will dismiss the allegations since your participation in the alleged crime was not willful. However, if you help the officer obtains the writing pen without any resistance, you will have initiated a crime making you guilty of selling a prohibited weapon.
If you possessed a weapon briefly, you would not be guilty of possessing a prohibited weapon. These instances usually occur when you unknowingly buy a prohibited weapon, realize that it is illegal to own it, and decide to turn it back to the seller. However, when you are returning the gun, you could get arrested and prosecuted for possessing a prohibited weapon. If you are in such a situation, you only have to prove to the court that you owned the gun momentarily, and the accusations will be dismissed.
The prosecution team’s mandate is to prove to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed a prohibited weapon. If there are elements of uncertainty in the evidence, then the court could dismiss your charges.
Misconduct in the Prosecution
The prosecutor has the role of providing evidence against you. However, if there are cases of wrongdoing in the prosecution process, the court should dismiss the charges. In most cases, such situations arise when the prosecutor tries to influence jury members to impose harsh penalties without enough evidence.
Crimes Related to California Penal Code 16590
There are several laws related to Penal Code 16590 in California. Most of these laws are either prosecuted together with or in place of PC 16590. Some of these laws include:
Penal Code 25400: Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Under PC 25400, carrying a concealed weapon on you or in a vehicle is a crime. Violating this statute can subject you to a misdemeanor, straight felony, or wobbler charges. For a misdemeanor conviction, the potential penalties include a maximum of one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. You can also be granted summary probation.
If there are aggravating factors related to your offense, you can be prosecuted with a straight or wobbler offense. If convicted for a felony offense, the possible penalties include probation for a maximum of one year in county jail, 16 months, two or three years in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
In a wobbler charge, you can either be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged with a misdemeanor, the probable penalties include a maximum of one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. If charged as a felony, the potential penalties include probation in a county jail for one year, 16 months, two or three years in state prison, or a fine of up to $10,000. Finally, if you have a previous firearm conviction, you will serve at least three months in the county jail. Violating this statute might also put you at risk of losing your gun rights.
Penal Code 25850: Carrying a Loaded Weapon in Public
Under PC 25850, it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in public. The weapon could either be on you or in your vehicle. Under this statute, a public place is defined as a place that is open to general use and can be easily accessed by anyone.
Violating this law is a misdemeanor, and the potential penalties include custody in a county jail for a maximum of a year and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if there are aggravating factors related to your violation of this Penal Code, you can be prosecuted with a wobbler or a straight felony.
For a wobbler charge, the potential penalties for a misdemeanor charge include a maximum of one-year custody in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are prosecuted with a felony, the potential penalties include imprisonment for a maximum of three years in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
In a straight felony charge, the potential consequences include a maximum of three years of custody in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Violating this offense sees you serving at least three months in the county jail if you have previous gun-related crimes.
Penal Code 26350: Carrying an Unloaded Weapon in Public
Under PC 26350, it is a crime to carry an unloaded weapon in public places. This law came into effect on 1st January 2012 when the “open carry” law was repealed. Carrying an unloaded weapon in public is considered a misdemeanor. This violation is punished by a maximum of one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Penal Code 417: Brandishing a Weapon
Under Penal Code 417, it is illegal to brandish a deadly weapon or weapon. Brandishing can be defined as exhibiting or drawing a weapon in a fight. Brandishing a weapon is a California misdemeanor offense. The potential penalties that result include a maximum of one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Although brandishing a weapon is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor, carrying out this offense in a day-care center makes the offense a wobbler. In that case, a misdemeanor charge would attract a maximum of one year in county jail while a felony charge attracts a maximum of three years in the California state prison.
Penal Code 24610: Undetectable Firearms
Under PC 24610, it is a crime to carry, manufacture, possess, or sell undetectable firearms. Undetectable weapons include ceramic and plastic guns. Violating this statute is a wobbler, meaning that you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
If charged with a misdemeanor, the potential consequences include custody in a county jail for a maximum of one year. If charged with a felony, you are punished under PC 1170(h). If sentenced under this statute, the possible penalties include 16 months, two or three years in prison. It also puts the defendant at risk of paying up to $10,000 of fines.
Find a Criminal Defense Law Firm Near Me
As much as you avoid violating gun-related laws, you might end up breaking one by possessing or handling a prohibited firearm in California. If charged for violating California PC 16590, it is best to contact The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm to get suitable legal services. We take great honor in ensuring that the rights and freedom of our Los Angeles clients are upheld. Contact us anytime at 310-935-1675 for a free consultation.