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Defending Gun Possession Charges in California | Zentz & Zentz

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The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects American citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, but every state has the right to implement certain restrictions concerning gun ownership and firearms possession. California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and the penalties for violating California’s gun laws are quite severe.

If you or a loved one is charged with a weapons possession violation in San Diego, CA, you could face incarceration, fines, and a loss of your Constitutional rights. If you were arrested for any criminal act that involves the illegal possession of a firearm, you can expect a much harsher sentence. It is crucial for anyone charged with a gun possession offense in California to know their rights and appreciate the value of reliable legal counsel.

Zentz & Zentz can provide the criminal defense representation you need in a San Diego weapons case. Our firm believes in providing aggressive, client-focused defense representation in every case we accept, and we have years of experience interpreting California gun laws to assist our clients’ cases.

Understanding California Gun Possession Firearm Laws

Most adults over the age of 21 have the right to purchase and possess certain firearms in California. Licensed firearm dealers in California may not transfer or sell firearms to individuals under the age of 21. Once an individual has lawfully obtained a firearm in California, the state imposes various restrictions regarding transporting and storing firearms. Additionally, there are various restrictions in place for different types of guns, including long rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

California gun laws also include provisions for carrying firearms. “Open carry,” or carrying a visible weapon on one’s person, is illegal in California. A California resident may only carry a weapon on their person if it is concealed and they have lawfully obtained a concealed carry permit. However, even concealed carry permit owners may not take firearms with them into certain areas, such as school grounds, daycare centers, public transit facilities, airports, or government buildings.

It is illegal to possess certain types of firearms in California, including weapons capable of fully automatic fire, improvised firearms or “zip guns,” and long guns with modified barrels. It is also illegal to possess certain modification items for firearms, such as laser targeting optics, silencers, or armor-piercing bullets.

California enforces various restrictions concerning who may own firearms. Individuals convicted of felonies, individuals diagnosed with mental illness, and individuals with proven narcotics addictions may not purchase or own firearms or ammunition. It is also possible for people convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses to be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as domestic violence against a spouse. California’s Red Flag laws allow individuals to file restraining orders or “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” against individuals they believe to be dangerous, and those orders, when granted, would require those individuals to surrender their firearms.

Why Should I Hire a San Diego Firearm Possession Lawyer?

If you are charged with any type of gun possession offense in California, the penalties could include loss of your firearms and ammunition, fines, and jail time. A gun possession charge may “wobble” between the misdemeanor and felony levels, and a felony conviction could lead to long-term loss of your ability to own firearms as well as more severe fines and incarceration than a misdemeanor conviction.

Every American citizen has the right to defense counsel when they are accused of a crime. If a defendant is unwilling or unable to pay for a private San Diego gun possession attorney, the court can appoint a public defender to handle the defendant’s legal counsel. While the majority of San Diego public defenders are capable and hardworking attorneys, the nature of their work requires them to handle multiple cases at a time, leaving them very little flexibility to offer clients much individual attention.

Zentz & Zentz can provide a much higher level of defense representation than any defendant could hope to receive from even the best public defenders. Our firm maintains a balanced caseload to ensure we can give each client the utmost attention they deserve and offer the full scope of our legal knowledge, resources, and experience. When you choose Zentz & Zentz as your San Diego gun possession lawyers, you can rest assured we will exhaust every available avenue of defense on your behalf.

What Is the Sentence for Weapons Possession?

A gun possession charge may qualify as a misdemeanor or felony offense based on several factors. Additionally, California imposes different penalties for different misdemeanor and felony gun possession offenses:

  • Most misdemeanor weapons charges in California are punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000, plus penalty assessments.
  • Felony possession of a firearm is punishable by losing Second Amendment rights for ten years or permanently for a second offense. It’s also possible for the defendant to face up to ten years in prison.
  • Illegal possession of a concealed weapon is typically prosecuted at the misdemeanor level. However, if the defendant has a prior weapons-related felony, illegally concealed an illegal weapon, or if the weapon was stolen, the charge escalates to a felony punishable by 16 months to three years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Carrying a weapon in an unauthorized area, such as a school or government building, is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
  • Possession of illegal weapons such as short barrel rifles, improvised firearms, and fully automatic assault weapons can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by three months to one year in jail, and the felony penalty is 16 months to three years in jail.
  • Violations of California’s laws regarding transportation and storage of firearms are commonly prosecuted as misdemeanors, but it is possible for such violations to qualify for felony prosecution under certain circumstances.

Ultimately, it is crucial for any firearm owner in California to understand the state’s gun possession laws and follow them accordingly. Even unknowingly violating the state’s gun possession statutes can lead to severe penalties and a criminal record. It is also vital to understand how possession of a firearm can influence criminal charges for other offenses, such as burglary and robbery.

Aggravating Factors in a Firearms Possession Case

It’s common for a weapons possession violation to be just one component of a larger criminal case. Using a firearm while committing other crimes will almost certainly lead to more significant penalties for the defendant. Additionally, while the possession of a firearm can itself increase the defendant’s penalty, firing the weapon, injuring someone, or killing someone with the weapon are also serious aggravating factors:

  • “Brandishing” a weapon involves the display of a weapon in a threatening manner. The weapon does not need to be loaded for the offender to qualify for prosecution for brandishing, and this offense could be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the exact details of the situation.
  • Performing a “drive-by shooting” or firing a weapon out of a vehicle, could be either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the exact details of the situation. As a felony, a drive-by shooting can incur a penalty of 16 months to seven years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • If you a defendant is charged with assault and used a firearm while committing the offense, they can expect to face a much harsher penalty than simple physical assault. The penalty varies based on the type of firearm used and can be as much as 12 years in state prison.
  • “Gun use enhancement” can come into play in various criminal cases for robbery, assault, burglary, and others. Depending on how a firearm is used during these offenses, the defendant may face up to ten additional years in prison.

When any criminal case involves possession and/or use of a firearm, the defendant faces some of the harshest penalties assigned by the California Penal Code. In addition to fines and incarceration, the offender will also likely lose their right to own firearms for ten years or life, depending on whether they have prior convictions for other weapons offenses. The defendant also faces personal and professional consequences, such as losing their professional licenses and responsibility for paying restitution to anyone they harmed with their actions.

What to Expect from Your San Diego Gun Possession Attorney

After you have been arrested for any gun possession charge in San Diego, it is vital to secure legal counsel as quickly as possible to start building your defense. Depending on the nature of your gun possession case, limited defense options may be available to you.

For example, if you are charged with illegal possession of a firearm and injuring another person with the firearm, you could potentially prove you acted in self-defense or in defense of others. However, if you were not legally authorized to have the weapon in the first place, you would still face an illegal weapon possession charge. If your weapons offense relates to illegally transporting, storing, or carrying a loaded firearm, “lack of knowledge” could potentially serve as an affirmative defense if you can prove you did not have knowledge that the weapon was loaded.

Your San Diego gun possession lawyer will carefully review the details of your case and help you determine your best available defenses. Zentz & Zentz understand that every criminal case is unique, and it’s natural for any defendant to feel distressed and isolated in the face of potential incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, and loss of their Second Amendment rights. Our goal is to help you avoid conviction if you have been wrongfully accused. If you have made a mistake and violated California gun possession laws, we can work to mitigate your sentence as much as possible.

If you are ready to discuss your defense options with a reliable team of San Diego gun possession lawyers, contact Zentz & Zentz today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our firm can assist in your defense.

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