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Arrested for Weapons Violations in Silicon Valley or the Peninsula?
California and the Bay Area is not considered the most gun rights-friendly area. Nevertheless, it is perfectly legal for most Santa Clara and San Mateo county residents to purchase, own, and keep a firearm in their home of place of business. Other than the registration of the fire arm itself , you do not even need a permit to do any of these things, assuming you are not otherwise disqualified from owning a gun. However, you do need a permit is to actually carry a concealed firearm in public.
California’s gun laws are quite complex. And when another criminal offense involves a weapon, a defendant can face significantly harsher penalties. This is where having an experienced San Mateo County and Santa Clara County criminal defense attorney on your side is critical. Our attorneys have found that courts take these charges seriously and we advise our clients facing weapons charges to likewise take them seriously.
We will answer a few of the more common questions about weapons charges and gun right, but please contact our office for a free consultation with a weapons charge attorney so that we an address your specific concerns.
Am I Barred From Owning a Gun Under California Penal Code 29800?
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution may guarantee an individual’s “right to keep and bear arms.” But this right is not absolute. For example, it is a felony under Section 29800 of the California Penal Code for a person to own, purchase, receive, or possess any kind of firearm if any of the following conditions apply:
- The individual has been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction;
- The individual has an outstanding warrant for a felony in any jurisdiction;
- The individual has been convicted at least twice of “brandishing a weapon” under Section 417 of the Penal Code;
- The individual has been convicted of certain misdemeanors specified in Penal Code Section 29805; or
- The individual is “addicted to the use of any narcotic drug”.
Federal law also prohibits certain other groups of people from owning firearms, including undocumented immigrants, individuals convicted of stalking, and anyone who received a “dishonorable” discharge from the U.S. armed forces.
There are also separate restrictions on gun ownership applicable to minors and the mentally ill. Section 29610 of the Penal Code prohibits a person who is under the age of 18 from possessing any “pistol, revolver, or firearm capable of being concealed upon the person. And Section 8100 of the Welfare & Institutions Code states the following individuals should not have possession or ownership of firearms “or any other deadly weapon” under the following circumstances:
- The person was admitted to an inpatient facility for treatment of a mental disorder, and in the treating physician’s opinion said person is a “danger to self or others”;
- A person cannot own or possess a firearm for a period of 5 years if they communicate a “serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims” to a “licensed psychotherapist.”
Anyone barred from owning a gun in California is also prohibited from purchasing or possessing ammunition.
How Can I Carry a Concealed Handgun Legally in San Jose and in the San Francisco Bay Area?
As noted above, even if you are not disqualified from owning a gun in California, you do not have an automatic right to carry your firearm in public. That requires a permit under Section 26150 of the Penal Code. You must apply for a permit with your local police chief or sheriff, who has discretion to grant your application if you meet the following conditions:
- You are a person of “good moral character”;
- There is “good cause” to issue the permit;
- You reside in the county or city from which you seek the permit; and
- You have completed a required “course of training” in firearm safety.
The “good cause” requirement can pose a significant obstacle to obtaining a gun license. California sheriffs and police chiefs often set an impossible bar for what they consider “good cause.” Even if you have a genuinely demonstrable need for a gun because of a threat to your safety, law enforcement can still deny you a carry permit.
What Happens If I Possess or Carry a Gun Illegally in San Jose or the San Francisco Bay Area?
Carrying a concealed handgun in San Jose and elsewhere in CA without a permit is normally a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of no more than $1,000. But there are a number of conditions where the charge may be elevated to a felony–punishable by up to 3 years in jail and a $10,000 fine–including the following:
- You have already been convicted of a felony or a firearm offense under California law;
- You were previously barred from owning a firearm for committing (or attempting to commit) murder, rape, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, or another violent offense;
- You did not lawfully possess the firearm or you knowingly possessed a stolen firearm; or
- You are considered an active member of a “criminal street gang.”
A felony conviction in California for illegally carrying a concealed firearm can lead to a jail term of up to 3 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
In addition to the general rules governing concealed carry in California, there are a number of other specific California gun laws that can get you in trouble. For instance, possession of a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of any primary or secondary school is a crime under Section 626.9 of the Penal Code, and a conviction may incur a prison sentence up to 5 years.
Similar laws deal prohibit guns in government buildings, airports, passenger vessel terminals, and other public transit facilities.
How Can a San Francisco Bay Area Weapons Violations Lawyer Help Me?
This is only a brief overview of California’s comprehensive gun laws. Beyond penalties for illegally possessing a firearm, if a gun is involved in the commission of another felony, it can significantly increase a defendant’s potential prison sentence. This is why you need to take any kind of weapons charge seriously.
At the Law Office of James Dunn, we can advise you of your gun rights under California and federal law. If you have been improperly accused of a weapons-related offense, we can deal with the police and prosecution on your behalf. In many cases, it may be possible to get unfounded charges dismissed or plead down to a lesser misdemeanor.
In all cases, our goal is the complete dismissal of your charges.
Call us today if you are facing a weapons charge and need immediate legal assistance.
The Law Office of James Dunn defends people accused of weapons charges throughout the Bay Area out of offices in San Jose, Redwood City, Dublin and Palo Alto, CA.
Half the Cost, Twice the Work
Jim Dunn fixed my previous lawyers blunders, literally cost half as much, didn’t charge me until my case was settled. He got me the best possible outcome after miscommunications with the courts, mostly my previous lawyer was to blame. There were countless little things that Jim did that won’t get named here, but he visited me in Jail on a Sunday evening, he fixed the miswriting of the court scribe, a last minute catch on Jim’s part, my case was first, his pay was second. I like him, he is personable, he called to check on me, I could call him and actually reach him, not go through a secretary and hope to be reached in the same day like my last lawyer. I would definitely hire him again and even form a partnership to become the family lawyer. If you have a run in with with law, you want Jim Dunn on your side, he only tells you the truth, and genuinely wants to help you!
Reviewer: Charlie M. — September 4, 2015 – San Mateo, CA