Defending Against a Criminal Concealed Weapons Charge in California

In California, it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm on your person or in a vehicle. The law criminalizing the carrying of a concealed weapon is California Penal Code 24500 PC. Depending on the circumstances, such as an individual’s criminal history and whether the firearm was loaded in addition to being concealed, the punishments stemming from a conviction may be serious. Substantial fines and jail time are very real possibilities. As such, it is imperative that individuals charged with the crime of carrying a concealed weapon in the state of California consult with a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney.

Understanding Firearms and Concealment

Most everyone knows that the word “firearm” is synonymous with the word “gun.” California’s concealed firearms statute covers all terms for firearms and all types of firearms that are capable of being concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle. Specifically, California Penal Code 16520(a) defines “firearm” as a “device designed to be used as a weapon from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile by the force of an explosion of other form of combustion.” Among the two most common types of firearms are the pistol and the revolver.  

Concealment – another key word in the California statute – means to hide from plain view. Methods of concealing a firearm on one’s person include hiding the firearm in a pocket or tucking the firearm in a waistband beneath an untucked shirt. A purse, backpack, bag, or other container may be deemed by the law to constitute an extension of one’s physical person. As such, the words “on one’s person” may actually refer to a more expansive area than one’s physical body and clothing. Concealment possibilities in a vehicle are more numerous due to the size and number of compartments and non-visible areas. With regard to concealment in a vehicle, the glove compartment is a common location.

There is a third element of the crime of concealing a firearm that does not appear directly in the language of the California statute. In order to be convicted, the individual in question must know about the presence of the concealed firearm. This requirement opens up a caveat for the circumstance in which the driver of a vehicle is unaware that a passenger is carrying a concealed weapon. If you did not know that you were carrying a concealed firearm, inform your criminal defense attorney so he or she can vigorously argue this defense on your behalf.

Even if an individual has no criminal background, conviction for carrying a concealed firearm in California may result in one-year sentence in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If an individual has previously been convicted of a felony or other California firearm offense, the charge for violation of California Penal Code 25400 PC will be a felony, punishable by increased jail time and/or fines. If there are other aggravating circumstances, such as possessing a history of violence or failing to cooperate with the police during the arrest, punishments may increase further. If you have been charge with the crime of carrying a concealed firearm in the state of California, contact a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. A strong defense is the best way to protect your rights.