If you carry a hidden firearm in California, you could face charges for a felony or misdemeanor. A conviction for that carries a maximum term of three years in prison. Numerous other repercussions could have a severe negative effect on your life after a criminal conviction. For example, having a criminal record will impact your social and professional life.
To defend yourself against charges under California PC 25400, you must have legal assistance. Your attorney can use several defense tactics to strengthen your case. For example, arguing that you were unaware that the firearm was on you or in your possession. Another possibility is that you possess a permit to carry a hidden gun. We at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney help our clients navigate the complex legal system more efficiently. Until you are happy with the resolution of your case, we will not stop working. With our assistance, you should feel at ease and have hope for a just outcome.
Legal Meaning of Carrying a Concealed Weapon
It is against the law to carry a hidden gun on you or in your vehicle in California, according to PC 25400. Depending on the specifics of your case, prosecutors can file a felony or misdemeanor charge for this conduct. The following are expressly prohibited by law:
- Carrying a revolver or pistol (or other firearms one can conceal on their person) concealed inside any vehicle they are driving or in charge of.
- Carrying a weapon within their person.
- Making another person carry a concealed weapon in a vehicle where you are a passenger.
California PC 25850, which forbids carrying a loaded weapon, and PC 26350, which bans the open carrying of an unloaded firearm in public, are not the same as this legislation.
For the court to find you guilty of carrying a hidden firearm, the prosecutor must establish all components of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. These components include:
- You had a revolver, a pistol, or another weapon you could conceal on your person.
- You either carried a concealed weapon on your person, directed or controlled a person to carry a hidden weapon in a vehicle where you were a passenger or carried a concealed weapon in your vehicle.
Since January 2012, unloaded firearms are not excluded from California's law against open carry. Today, you will face criminal charges for being in public while in possession of an unloaded weapon.
The prosecution must conclusively demonstrate this to convict you under this law:
- You had a hidden firearm on you or on anything you were wearing or carrying, or
- You had a hidden firearm in a vehicle you were traveling in.
- You must have been aware of or reasonably should have known about that firearm.
- You must also have adequately concealed the weapon.
The court will declare you guilty if the specifics of your case meet all these requirements for the crime.
Let us discuss these elements in greater detail to understand the meaning of this offense even better:
A Concealed Weapon
The main focus of California PC 25400 is carrying a hidden firearm in your car or on your person. A concealed weapon cannot be seen by the people you are traveling with or onlookers. You will not face charges for a crime under this statute if you carry a gun in plain sight of other people. But you could face charges under a separate law, like PC 26350, which forbids publicly carrying an unconcealed or unloaded pistol in public.
However, you could violate this law if you partially conceal your weapon. The charges would still stand even if other people can recognize the hidden gun.
Example: An officer pulls over Mark after noticing what appears to be a concealed firearm in his jeans pocket. He arrests Mark and charges him for carrying a hidden gun since the officer determines that Mark is indeed concealing the gun in his pockets.
Whether the police or other people can see what you are carrying on you does not matter. You are still guilty under this law if you carry the weapon concealed in your pocket, backpack, or clothing.
However, carrying a firearm on a belt holster is exempted from this law. People that use belt holsters to carry firearms do so in plain sight, not covertly. But remember that it is unlawful to openly have a weapon in California, whether loaded or empty.
The Nature of the Weapon
You are prohibited under this law from carrying specific firearms that you can conceal on you or in your vehicle. Concealable weapons are pistols, revolvers, or other smaller weapons. According to legal definitions, a concealable firearm is any device intended for use as a weapon with a 16 inches or longer barrel that can forcefully fire a projectile by an explosion. The receiver or frame of any weapon like that is also included in the definition.
The frame of a weapon is its fundamental portion, or the mounting for its barrel and other functional components. A gun's mechanical parts, like the bolt carrier group and trigger housing, are housed in its receiver.
According to California PC 16520(a), a firearm is any object that has the potential for use as a weapon and is capable of ejecting a projectile through its barrel by force. Tasers, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, pistols, and handguns are examples of firearms. According to this definition, BB guns and pellet guns are not considered firearms because they rely on force from air pressure rather than combustion.
The purpose of California PC 25400 is to shield the general public from the fear that comes with noticing a hidden weapon. Thus, even though the gun on you or in your car is not usable, you could still face criminal charges under this provision.
Carrying a Weapon on Your Person
You must possess a concealed firearm to face criminal charges for carrying one. But whether the weapon is in what you hold or on your person does not matter. If a firearm is in a pocket of your clothing, a bag, briefcase, backpack, or anything you could be carrying, it is on your person. Thus, you possess it.
Knowledge of the Gun's Presence
The law also stipulates that you must know or should reasonably have known that the pistol was on you or in your car. If you were unaware that the gun was there, to begin with, you are not guilty under California PC 25400. This component is necessary to stop innocent persons from facing wrongful imprisonment.
Example: Nina and her companions are traveling for work. Nina is making her first international trip. Therefore, she is quite happy. At the airport, Nina mistakenly takes her coworker's suitcase while checking in. She does not know what is in the bag. But, the security guards discover a handgun inside.
Nina is not guilty of having a hidden gun since she was unaware that the pistol was in the suitcase she was checking in. But if the security officers discover the bag's owner, her coworker could face charges under this law.
Defending Yourself Against California PC 25400 Charges
In California, carrying a hidden gun is a serious crime. It carries harsh punishments, like a lengthy jail sentence and substantial fines. You will also have an adverse criminal record after a conviction, which could harm your life in various ways. For example, finding suitable employment or a place to rent or lease could be challenging following a criminal conviction. However, you can defend yourself against the charges you face if you work with a skilled criminal lawyer. Fortunately, your defense team has a variety of defense tactics at their disposal to combat your accusations. A knowledgeable lawyer will know the best tactics to implement for a just conclusion to your case. The most effective tactics under this law are below:
You Did Not Know About The Firearm's Presence In Your Person or Vehicle
For the court to find you guilty under California PC 25400, you must be aware that you were carrying a hidden firearm. This crime requires knowledge, without which you will not be guilty. The prosecution must establish that you were aware that you were carrying a hidden firearm. The judge would drop your charges if you were not.
There are several reasons why you could be unknowingly in possession of a concealed weapon. One is if you carried someone else's bag without knowing what was inside. Either you offered to help another person carry their luggage, or the bag's owner demanded you carry it for them. Another justification would be if someone secretly hid a pistol in your backpack, car, purse, or jacket. The judge will drop your charges if your lawyer successfully demonstrates your ignorance.
The Weapon was Locked in a Case in Your Vehicle's Trunk
If the authorities discover a concealed weapon stored in a container in your car’s trunk, you are not violating this legislation. If you are legally permitted to buy or own a firearm, you can store it out of sight in a locked container. However, you must prove in court that you have authorization as the rightful owner of the firearm in your vehicle.
Remember that Californians are allowed to possess firearms, with some exceptions, like after a felony conviction and in cases of mental illness. But to buy or have a handgun, you need a permit. If the judge finds that your permit is legitimate and the gun was locked away, they will drop your charges.
You Have a License for Concealed Carry
In California, you can apply for a concealed weapon license. However, you must fulfill several requirements, like having excellent morals, justifying your need to carry a weapon, passing a firearms safety course, and residing in the county from where you are requesting the license. You will not face charges for carrying a hidden weapon if you satisfy the requirements and receive a permit.
However, after your arrest, you must prove in court that you possess a legitimate license. The judge will drop your charges if you have a permit to carry a hidden firearm.
You Carried the Gun Within Your Business or Residence
You can carry a firearm inside your home or business if you are legally permitted to carry a concealed weapon. Remember that the business must be your own, not where you work. For those who work or live in their vehicles, there is an exception to this regulation. Under this regulation, having a hidden firearm in your car is illegal without the required licenses. However, if you drive a taxi or a bus, you can conceal your weapon inside your vehicle without breaking the law.
The Police Discovered the Weapon After an Unlawful Search and Seizure
Most gun-related prosecutions start after a police officer stops and searches a person because they could have a gun. Police searches occasionally take place by chance. For example, if you are speeding, parked illegally, or match the details of a person facing criminal charges, the police could stop you. When you are stopped by the police and are being questioned, an officer can find a concealed firearm on you or in your car.
Without a legal search warrant, the police are not allowed to conduct searches under the 4th Amendment of the US constitution. If that occurs, the judge must throw out any evidence they obtain during that unlawful search. That could give the prosecutor little to no evidence to use against you.
To obtain a search warrant against someone they suspect of having a concealed firearm, officers must also have probable cause. The police would have gone against your legal rights without probable cause and a legitimate search order.
Example: The police stop Mike for running a red light. Mike answers all the officer's questions and is very helpful, handing over his license and vehicle registration. Mike has no active arrest warrants against him or a criminal record. But as the officer searches him and his car, he discovers a revolver in his glove box.
Although Mike is guilty of concealing a gun in his glove box, the officer had no right to search him or his vehicle. It is because the officer needs the following to search Mike lawfully and seize his weapon:
- A reasonable suspicion that the defendant committed a crime and threatened the officer's safety must be established as the basis for the search warrant.
- A legitimate search warrant gives the officer the go-ahead to search the defendant and/or their property. The police officer must abide closely by the guidelines of that search warrant.
- Obtaining permission from the defendant before the officer searches their person or property
In the case mentioned above, the officer finds a gun in Mike's car, but it will be allowed as evidence in court to support his charges of carrying a hidden firearm.
Thus, the judge will drop your PC 25400 charges if your defense team can persuade the jury that the police seized your weapon in an unlawful search and seizure.
The Gun Was For Self-Defense
When someone is concerned for their safety or the safety of another person, the law is a little more forgiving. Therefore, you can state this as your justification for carrying a hidden firearm. However, you can only utilize this argument to compel the judge to toss out your charges if you had a good faith belief that:
- Your life or the life of another person was in grave danger.
- Due to the specific actions or threats of another individual that caused you to obtain a restraining order against them
Carrying a pistol could have been a required safety measure if you continued to feel that your life or another person's life was in danger despite receiving a court-given protective order. The judge will dismiss your case if your defense team can persuade the jury of the same.
The Police Misconducted Themselves
The law stipulates what the police must and must not do during and after an arrest. If the police committed one or more of these, you could use police misconduct as a defense against charges under this statute:
- Hid a pistol on you or in your vehicle.
- Falsely claimed in their report that you had hidden the gun when, in fact, you had carried it openly.
- Gives a phony testimony about your case in court.
- Caused you to confess under force or duress.
- Acted in any way that violates your legal rights.
If you think the police mishandled your case, you must talk to an experienced defense lawyer. If you believe the police misconducted themselves, your lawyer can file a Pitchess motion to see if the officer has been the subject of other complaints from earlier cases. The court will drop your charges if your defense team can persuade the jury of the same.
People Exempted from Charges Under California PC 25400
Specific individuals are exempted from the concealed carry ban, including the following:
- Active duty or recently retired police officers.
- Gun sellers with the necessary licenses.
- Personnel of the US military.
- Guards and messengers working in banks.
- Target shooting organizations or club members.
- Licensed hunters or fishermen that carry or use their firearms only for these sports.
Even if this statute exempts you from prosecution, you must keep your pistol empty and only use it for authorized purposes.
Penalties for a Conviction Under California PC 25400
Depending on the case's circumstances and the defendant's criminal history, California prosecutors can prosecute concealed carry as a felony or misdemeanor. Under this law, a conviction for a misdemeanor happens in the absence of aggravating factors. The following sanctions apply:
- Maximum one-year jail sentence.
- With a maximum court fine of $1,000.
Instead of jail time, the judge could place you on misdemeanor probation. The judge will consider several factors while making that judgment, like your criminal history, history of violence, if you planned to use the weapon, and whether you cooperated with the arresting officer before, during, and after your arrest.
However, the prosecutor can charge you with a straight felony for having a concealed firearm if there are aggravating circumstances.
The following aggravating factors give rise to a direct felony charge under this statute:
- You have a previous conviction for a crime involving a firearm.
- You knew or should have reasonably known that the gun was stolen.
- You are suspected of being an active member of an illegal street gang.
- You do not have a permit to own a gun.
- You no longer have the right to possess or own a firearm under California Penal Code 29800 or PC 29900.
According to this statute, if you are guilty of a straight felony, you could be subject to the following sanctions:
- Probation for a felony that includes at least a year in jail.
- 16 months, two years, or three years in prison.
- $10,000 maximum in court fines.
Carrying a hidden firearm is a wobbler crime in certain circumstances. It indicates that the prosecutor can file a felony or misdemeanor case. Some of these situations include:
- The firearm you were carrying was loaded, or the officer discovered ammo nearby that you could have readily obtained,
- You are not the legal owner of a loaded gun and/or
- You have a prior misdemeanor conviction for a felony involving property, drugs, or someone else.
Find a Skilled Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Are you facing legal repercussions for concealing a firearm in Los Angeles? It is a severe criminal charge, that if proven true, could harm many aspects of your life. For example, it will result in a damaging criminal record and months or years spent behind bars. It would be best if you had qualified legal assistance to manage the challenging legal process and fight your charges. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, our criminal defense staff has significant experience addressing cases similar to yours. Therefore, we possess the knowledge necessary to help you win your case. We use the most effective defense tactics to persuade the judge to drop or downgrade our client's accusations. To discuss your legal options, contact us at 424-333-0943.