California PC 25400 | Concealed Weapon
California imposes strict gun control laws, including laws against carrying a concealed firearm that is unauthorized or the open carry of firearms in public places. Any firearm-related criminal charges can result in serious penalties if you are convicted. California Penal Code Section 25400 prohibits the concealed carry of a firearm on your person or in your vehicle, and this may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s essential to understand the meaning of concealed carry laws, their penalties, and potential defenses.What Is Penal Code 25400?
California Penal Code 25400 covers the crime of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Someone is guilty of this crime when they:
- Carry any pistol, revolver, or firearm that can be concealed within a vehicle that is under their control or direction.
- Carry a pistol, revolver, or concealable firearm on their person.
- Cause a pistol, revolver, or concealable firearm to be concealed in a vehicle they are an occupant of.
The crime of carrying a concealed weapon does not apply when the firearm is in clear view. It applies when:
- The firearm is completely hidden from view.
- The firearm is partially hidden and can be identified.
Even if part of the firearm is visible, a person can still be charged under this law. Carrying an unloaded firearm in a public area is a crime under Penal Code 26350.Defining Carried on a Person in PC 25400
When charged with a violation of PC 25400, the firearm being carried on the person means that the person must physically possess the concealed weapon. It may be actually physically on their person, such as in a clothes pocket or pants waistband, or it may be concealed within something they are holding. Even if the firearm is concealed or partially concealed in a purse or briefcase, it is still considered to be concealed on their person. Conviction partially rests on the defendant’s knowledge of the firearm.Defining Firearm in PC 25400
When the law refers to any pistol, revolver, or firearm that is able to be concealed on a person, this means any device meant to be used as a weapon. This device must also:
- Expel or discharge a projectile from combustion or explosion.
- Have a barrel less than 16 inches long.
- Have a barrel more than 16 inches long but is designed to be interchanged with a barrel less than 16 inches long.
The legal definition also includes the frame or receiver of any weapon that fits the definition of a firearm. The definition of a firearm covers weapons such as:
There are many other weapons that may fit under the law’s definition of a firearm. However, it does not apply to weapons like pellet guns, as there is no combustion when the weapon is fired.
A firearm under this law also includes:
- A rocket
- A rocket-propelled projectile launcher
- A device that is similar and contains explosive material, regardless of its intention for emergency signaling
Even if a firearm is not working and is inoperable, a person can still be charged with concealed carry of a firearm. If the weapon was designed to fire and looks capable of shooting, a person can still be charged with concealed carry, even if it is unable to fire.What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove?
If you have been charged with carrying a concealed firearm under PC 25400, the prosecution must prove the following to get a conviction:
- You carried a concealable firearm on your person or in a vehicle under your control.
- You knew you were carrying the firearm on your person or in the vehicle.
- The firearm was significantly concealed.
All three of these must be proven for a conviction to be successful. You may also face additional gun possession, carrying, or brandishing charges, which would lead to further penalties if you are convicted.Is 25400 Charged as a Wobbler?
Yes, PC 25400 is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the arrest and crime. In most cases, a first-time offense with no other aggravating factors is charged as a misdemeanor, which is less severe. Even though misdemeanor penalties are not as serious as felony penalties, they can still have a significant impact on your life and include fines and potential jail time. Working with a criminal defense attorney is necessary to prevent these penalties from affecting your future.What Is the Penalty in California for Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
A charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and no aggravating factors is charged as a misdemeanor. The offense is also considered a misdemeanor if you have a prior misdemeanor conviction of:
- A crime against a person or property
- A narcotics or dangerous drug crime
A misdemeanor is also charged if both of the following is true:
- The firearm is loaded, or both the firearm and unused ammunition are on your immediate person or readily accessible.
- You are not listed as the registered owner of the firearm with the Department of Justice.
A misdemeanor conviction results in the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A term of summary probation
- Fines of up to $1,000
Most misdemeanor PC 25400 charges do not affect the offender’s right to own, possess, or buy a firearm. A term of summary probation is often in place of most or all the jail time.
PC 25400 is charged as a felony under certain aggravating factors. These are factors in addition to carrying a concealed firearm that worsen the circumstances. These factors include:
- You have a prior conviction of a felony or any firearm conviction under Section 16580.
- The firearm was stolen, and you knew this or had reasonable cause to believe that it was stolen.
- You are an active member of a criminal street gang.
- You are not in lawful possession of the firearm.
- You are not allowed to own or possess a firearm as a felon under PC 29800
- You are not allowed to own or possess a firearm under PC 29900 for committing or attempting to commit a violent offense, including kidnapping, murder, rape, carjacking, or robbery.
A felony conviction under PC 25400 has the following penalties:
- Probation and up to 1 year in county jail
- 16 months or up to 3 years in county jail
- Fines of up to $10,000
A felony conviction could also limit your ability to ever own, buy, or possess a firearm. There are serious consequences to a felony conviction that could harm your ability to get a job or apply for certain housing in the future. This is why it is beneficial to work with an attorney to limit the charges against you.Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
There are some cases where a conviction for concealed carry of a firearm comes with a mandatory minimum sentence. This means that, in most circumstances, the judge is required to sentence you to the minimum sentence in jail.
If you were convicted of a prior firearm offense or felony, there is a mandatory minimum sentencing of 3 months if probation is granted.
Additionally, if you have a prior conviction for any of the offenses under Section 23515, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 months in jail and not more than 6 months. These offenses include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or car
- Brandishing a weapon
The 3-month mandatory minimum only does not apply when it is in the interests of justice to grant probation or suspend the minimum jail sentence. This is only in unusual cases and requires a skilled attorney to obtain.Immigration Consequences of Conviction
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for concealed carry of a weapon could result in deportation. Any charge related to illegally possessing, selling, or using a firearm could lead to deportation. Conviction of a federal offense, rather than a California offense, is more frequently the cause of deportation, but it is still possible. If you are not a citizen and have been charged with a criminal offense, it is in your interests to work with a skilled attorney.Inability to Own a Firearm After Conviction
A conviction for violating PC 25400 could result in you losing your right to possess a firearm. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, it is unlikely you will be banned from firearm possession.
However, a conviction of a felony concealed carry without a permit results in a lifetime ban on owning, buying, and possessing a gun. This ban holds unless your rights are reinstated.Defenses to PC 25400
After an arrest for concealing an illegal firearm, it can be overwhelming. However, a conviction is not guaranteed. If you have been arrested, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney quickly. This allows you to have the greatest chance at lessening or eliminating the penalties you face. A defense attorney can review your situation and determine what defenses may apply to your unique circumstances. Some common defenses for PC 25400 include:
- You Didn’t Know That You Possessed the Firearm
One essential aspect the prosecution must prove for conviction is that you possessed the firearm and knew you possessed it. If your defense attorney can reasonably argue that you didn’t know you possessed the gun on your person or in a vehicle, you might not be convicted. Another party may have put the firearm in your vehicle or in your jacket or purse. An experienced attorney can determine if this defense is effective in your situation.
- You Have a License to Conceal Carry
If you have a registered and valid concealed carry license, then it is unlikely that you were violating the concealed carry law. This concealed carry permit must meet the standards of Penal Code 26150 PC and Penal Code 26155 PC and, often, must be submitted at the sheriff’s office.
If you have been arrested under PC 25400 for illegal concealed carry, the burden of proving the validity of your permit falls to you and your attorney. The requirements for a license often include having good moral character, having a good reason to possess a firearm, completing a firearm training course, and being a resident of the county.
- Your Fourth Amendment Rights Were Violated
If the weapon was gained because law enforcement conducted an illegal search and seizure, the case against you could be dropped. A police officer needs probable cause, a search warrant, or your consent to investigate or search you.
Probable cause refers to a valid and reasonable belief by the officer that you pose a threat to their safety or are engaging in criminal activities.
If the firearm was discovered in your vehicle during a traffic stop, the officer must have probable cause to pull you over, such as erratic driving or speeding. If they did not, the firearm cannot be used as evidence in court.
The firearm may have been discovered during a search of you, your place of residence, or your business. If this search was conducted without probable cause or a search warrant, the firearm cannot be used as evidence. When the prosecution loses this evidence, it is likely that the court will drop the case against you.
- The Firearm Was in a Locked Container
A firearm is not considered illegal concealed carry if you have a legal right to it and it is in a locked container. This means that it is kept in the trunk of a vehicle or in a locked container other than the glove compartment. Additionally, you must have the legal right to possess a firearm and either legally own it or have the permission of the person who owns it.
- The Firearm Was in Your Home or Business
If the firearm was in your home or a business that you own, and you have a permit to own or possess a firearm, you are not violating any laws. However, you must have a valid permit. This does not also apply to keeping a firearm in a vehicle or a business that you work at but do not own. If you live and work out of your car, it is still illegal to have a weapon concealed.
- The Firearm Was for Self-Defense
There is justification for carrying a concealed weapon for self-defense purposes. This applies if you reasonably believe that you are in grave danger because of a person who you have an active restraining order or case against who poses an active threat. The court will have to determine if the belief of danger was reasonable. Self-defense does not often apply when both parties have a restraining order against each other unless there is clear and factual evidence of a threat to the person’s safety or life.
- Police Misconduct
Police misconduct is a defense against concealed carry charges. Actions that are considered police misconduct include:
- Planting or hiding a weapon on your person or your car
- Claiming that the gun was hidden despite you carrying it openly
- Using coercion, threat, or force to get a confession
- Falsely testifying about your case
- Violating any of your civil rights
These actions are illegal and unacceptable. If misconduct can be proven, it is likely that the case against you will be dropped or that you will be found not guilty. Your attorney can file a Pitchess motion to determine if there are other complaints against this police officer.Which Individuals Are Exempt From PC 25400?
There are certain groups of people and individuals who are exempt from being convicted under PC 25400. Generally, these people have a concealed carry permit and have a good cause to carry their weapons. Those exempt from PC 25400 include:
- Peace officers and members of the military, active or honorably discharged
- Licensed firearm dealers
- Licensed hunters and fishers who are using or transporting the weapons for the purpose of hunting or fishing
- Bank guards or messengers
- Those who are members of shooting clubs and other organizations
These exempt individuals must still have an unloaded firearm or have it in use only for certain activities. Someone must have the legal ability to transport firearms. This means being the legal owner of that firearm or having permission from the legal owner.Where It Is Prohibited to Have a Firearm
There are certain places where it is illegal to have a firearm, even with a concealed carry permit. No loaded or unloaded gun is allowed on the following premises under state or federal law:
- Public schools and school grounds
- Government and federal offices and courthouses
- Any building rented, owned, or leased by the federal government
- Governor’s mansion or residence of constitutional officers
- Public transportation facilities
- National forests
These are only some of the locations that are prohibited, and gun laws change frequently. It’s essential to work with an attorney who understands the current California and federal gun laws if you have been arrested.Can a Conviction for Concealed Carry Be Expunged?
A conviction for carrying a concealed weapon could be expunged if you were given probation for your sentence. Once your probation is completed, or if the judge terminates it early, you can apply to have the conviction expunged. An expungement allows your conviction to not be provided to potential employers or rental providers. This can help those who were convicted have a freer future and more opportunities.
However, an expungement doesn’t erase the record completely. If your conviction included the revoking of your right to own or possess firearms, expungement of your record does not restore your rights. It also does not prevent you from being charged under Section 29800, which relies on prior felony convictions.
Although you can apply for an expungement of your record after completing probation, the judge does not have to grant it. If you had a probation violation or otherwise didn’t follow the terms of probation, the judge can refuse to expunge your record. An attorney can argue on your behalf to improve the likelihood of expunging your criminal record.Do I Need a Criminal Attorney for PC 25400?
Facing criminal penalties and a potential conviction can be a scary situation. California and federal firearm and gun laws are complex, and they can be hard to fight against without the right knowledge and experience. Several factors about your case may make penalties worse for you.
Working with an attorney provides you with the legal support you need. Your criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. Although your civil rights should be respected during your arrest and prosecution, this isn’t always the reality. An attorney can protect those rights and ensure that any violations of your rights are properly used in your case.
An attorney can also look at your unique arrest and case to determine what defenses may apply. They understand the gun laws that apply in your specific area and how they impact your situation. You can have legal guidance through every step of the process and an honest understanding of the penalties you face.
At a criminal trial, there is a lot at stake. It is common for individuals to be emotionally overwhelmed. If you don’t have an attorney by your side, there is no one looking out for your interests during this process. A criminal defense attorney advocates for the most positive outcome to the situation, investigates the arrest, questions witnesses, and has the time and resources to devote to your case. Your future is at stake during a criminal trial, and you shouldn’t have to fight for your freedom alone.What Is California Penal Code 25610?
Under Penal Code 25610, there are legal ways to transport or carry a firearm and not be charged under PC 25400. To do so, an individual must be:
- Over the age of 18
- A U.S. citizen
- A temporary or permanent resident of California
- Lawfully allowed to possess or own a firearm
If these apply, a person can carry or transport a firearm in a vehicle or on their person if it is unloaded and in a locked container. If it is in a vehicle, the firearm must be in a locked container or in a trunk. It cannot be in the glove compartment.
A locked container is defined as a fully enclosed container, which can be locked with a padlock or a combination lock. If the individual does not meet the conditions for legal transport under PC 25610, they can be charged for carrying a concealed weapon under PC 25400.Defenses to 25610 include:
- Acting Out of Necessity: This may include needing to transport the firearm for an emergency or having another good reason for committing the crime.
- No Knowledge of the Firearm: If you can prove that you had no awareness that you were transporting a concealed weapon, you can’t be convicted.
- Rights Violations: Any rights violations by law enforcement, including coerced confession or no probable cause, may result in the charges being dropped.
A defense lawyer understands the complexities of California and federal gun laws, including PC 25400 and PC 25610.What Is Penal Code 25600?
Penal Code 25600 states that a person can’t be charged under PC 25400 if:
- They reasonably believe that they are in serious danger.
- The serious danger is the result of a situation that led to a current restraining order against another person.
- The other person is a threat to the safety and life of the individual.
If the court finds that the individual’s belief of grave danger is reasonable, they will not be charged under PC 25400. However, this won’t apply if both parties have mutual restraining orders against one another. In that situation, the person will only be exempt under self-defense if there is concrete evidence of a specific threat to their well-being and life.Contact Power Trial Lawyers, Today for Concealed Carry Defense
Facing any criminal charges is stressful, and California has strict and complex gun laws with potentially high penalties. Even misdemeanors come with hundreds in fines and a record that could harm the entire rest of your future. You may find yourself unable to get a job, obtain a loan, apply for housing, and unable to own a firearm. If you or a loved one has been arrested under PC 25400 for concealing a firearm without a permit, it’s important that you contact legal representation as quickly as possible.
At Power Trial Lawyers, we’ve had many years defending individuals who are facing criminal charges, including gun possession and concealed carry. We want to protect your rights and ensure that we fight for your interests and for the most ideal outcome for your case. No matter how complex your concealed carry charges are, we have the necessary experience to defend you against them.
We believe in dedicating the necessary time to each case. The more we understand about your unique case, the more equipped we are to build your defense. The criminal justice system fails many individuals, and we want to provide you with the legal advocacy you need to prevent that. Contact Power Trial Lawyers, today to fight your charges and get the penalties against you lowered or dropped.