If you are arrested for carrying a concealed handgun, revolver, or any other firearm without a valid concealed carry license in California, you risk facing harsh criminal charges. A conviction for carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) in California carries serious penalties, including court fines and potential incarceration.

At Monterey Criminal Attorney, we have the expertise to defend your rights and freedom. Our attorneys are ready to work with you to build a solid legal defense strategy. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation session with one of our defense lawyers.

Defining Carrying A Concealed Firearm Under California Law

Carrying a concealed firearm in California is punishable under Penal Code (PC) 25400. This law makes it illegal to carry a concealed firearm if:

  • The accused conceals a firearm on their body
  • The defendant possesses a concealed weapon inside an automobile they are occupying
  • The accused person causes a firearm to be concealed inside a car they are occupying


The offense of carrying concealed firearms is not applicable if the weapon is visible to others. It only applies if:

  1. The alleged firearm is partly concealed and can be easily identified
  2. The weapon is completely hidden

Even if a portion of the weapon is visible, the accused can still face legal charges under this statute.

Carry on Your Person

When accused of violating PC 25400, carrying a firearm on your person requires the accused to possess the hidden firearm physically. The weapon could be hidden directly on your body, like in a pocket or waistband, or it could be hidden within an item you are carrying.

Regardless of whether the firearm was partially or completely hidden in a backpack or purse, it remains evident that it was concealed on the individual's body. The conviction is partly based on the accused person's awareness of the weapon.


According to the law, the term "concealable firearms" includes handguns, revolvers, pistols, or firearms that can be hidden on your person. They should also be intended to be used as weapons. A firearm should also:

  1. Eject or release a projectile through explosion or combustion
  2. Have a gun barrel with a length of less than sixteen inches
  3. The barrel should be longer than 16 inches but intended to be easily swapped with a shorter barrel not less than sixteen inches

The legal definition of a firearm includes the receiver or frame that meets the specified criteria. Any firearm that can be legally used includes pistols, shotguns, revolvers, rifles, tasers, or handguns.

Many other weapons can also be considered firearms under the law. However, this rule does not relate to weapons such as pellet guns since there is no explosion when the device is discharged.

A firearm, as defined by this statute, also includes the following:

  1. A rocket
  2. An object that resembles a firearm and has explosive material, irrespective of its intended purpose for alarm signaling
  3. Rocket-powered projectile launchers

A person may still face charges for carrying a concealed weapon, even if it is unusable or malfunctioning. An accused person can also be arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, even if it is not operational, provided that it is made to look like it can be discharged.

What The Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You of Violating PC 25400

According to PC 25400, carrying a concealed weapon on your person or in an automobile is illegal. Prosecutors must establish and demonstrate every aspect of the offense to secure a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm.

If the prosecutor fails to prove all aspects of the crime beyond a shadow of a doubt, they cannot secure a conviction for the crime against you. The prosecuting attorney assigned to your case has to present evidence to prove the following:

You Were Carrying a Concealable Firearm

Concealed carry of a firearm is illegal if it can be hidden on one's body. Firearms that typically fall into this category include handguns, pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, tasers, and rockets. Firearms with fixed barrels longer than sixteen inches are not classified as concealable weapons.

Firearms that operate using air pressure, like BB guns, pellet guns, and air rifles, are typically not considered illegal weapons.

You Partially or Completely Concealed A Firearm

California's courts have ruled that a weapon can be "concealed" under the law even if it is not completely out of sight or hidden. Firearms that are significantly hidden from view, with most of the firearm being out of sight, are regarded as concealed. However, weapons carried in a belt holster cannot be regarded as concealed under this law.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon Either in An Automobile or On One's Person

Concealing a weapon or causing a weapon to be hidden in an automobile that you occupy or own is considered an offense. Weapons can be easily carried in vehicles as long as they are stored in secure and lockable containers.

A secure container can include an automobile's trunk but may not include its glove compartment. If you conceal a firearm on your person, such as within your backpack, purse, or pocket, you could also be found guilty of the offense.

Establishing proof of all three elements is necessary for a successful conviction. If you are convicted, you may face additional charges related to firearms carrying, possession, or brandishing, which can attract further fines.

Penalties For Carrying A Concealed Firearm Crime

Carrying a concealed firearm can be charged as a wobbler crime. This means you can either face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the specifics of the offense, the accused person's prior criminal history, and other relevant factors.

Unless there are any aggravating factors, the offense usually falls under a misdemeanor. You can be fined up to $1,000 and serve a maximum of twelve months behind bars. Alternatively, the defendant could be sentenced to summary probation.

However, if there are any aggravating circumstances involved, the crime can be classified as a "wobbler crime" or "straight" felony.

Wobbler Crime

A wobbler crime can be tried as either a felony or a misdemeanor, based on the accused person's criminal record and the specific circumstances of the case.

Carrying a hidden firearm is classified as a wobbler crime if any of the following conditions are met:

  • The accused person was previously convicted of a misdemeanor for committing a crime involving either individuals, property, or specific drug offenses
  • The accused had a loaded weapon or ammunition readily accessible
  • The accused is not registered as the owner of the alleged firearm

A misdemeanor violation carries a fine of no more than $1,000 and a maximum of twelve months behind bars. On the other hand, felony charges can result in fines not exceeding $10,000 and sixteen months to 3 years in prison or probation with a maximum jail term of twelve months.

Straight Felony

A person charged with carrying a concealed weapon will risk a "straight" felony sentence if the following are met:

  • If the accused has a previous felony conviction or any conviction for a firearm-related offense on their criminal record
  • The firearm was illegally taken, and the person knows or should have had knowledge of its unlawful possession
  • The accused is a member of an illegal street gang
  • The defendant carried the weapon illegally
  • They were previously forbidden by gun laws from possessing or owning any weapon used to perpetrate violent crimes

The penalties for straight felony crimes are identical to those for wobbler felony crimes. These include a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment from sixteen months to three years. On the other hand, probation could be granted with jail time not exceeding twelve months. In addition to possible prison time, probation, and fines, the perpetrator could lose their privilege to possess or own firearms.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

In some cases, a conviction for carrying a concealed firearm carries a minimum mandatory sentence. Therefore, under normal conditions, the court has a mandate to impose a minimal jail sentence upon the defendant.

If someone has previously been found guilty of a firearm crime or felony, they may receive a mandatory minimum sentence of three months if they are granted parole. Also, if your record has previous convictions for any of the crimes listed under PC 23515, you could be sentenced to a compulsory minimum jail term of three months or a maximum of six months.

These crimes include:

  • Assault using a lethal weapon
  • Engaging in gunfire toward a dwelling or vehicle that is occupied
  • Brandishing a firearm or weapon

The 3-month minimum mandatory sentence does not apply in cases where it is deemed necessary for the sake of justice to suspend the minimal sentence or grant probation. This is only available under unusual circumstances and requires the assistance of a professional attorney.

Legal Implications On  Immigration After a Conviction

A conviction for carrying a concealed firearm could lead to deportation if you have not become a United States citizen. Deportation could result from any allegation of unlawfully obtaining, selling, or utilizing a firearm.

Deportation occurs more often when a person is convicted of an offense under federal law instead of a California crime. However, it could still happen. Legal representation from an experienced attorney is essential if you are facing criminal charges as a non-citizen.

Not Allowed To Own Firearms After Your Conviction

If you are found guilty of breaking PC 25400, you may lose the right to own firearms. However, you likely will not be barred from owning firearms just because you were charged with a misdemeanor.

However, if you are found guilty of a felony for carrying a gun without a valid permit, you will never be able to own, buy, or possess firearms again. You will be subject to this ban until your rights are restored.

Legal Defenses for Carrying A Concealed Firearm

There are many defenses available to anyone accused of having a concealed weapon to challenge the charges under Penal Code 25400. Here are some defenses your lawyer could use to defend you:

You Were Unaware That There Was A Firearm Present

According to Penal Code 25400, the defendant cannot be held guilty unless they are aware that the weapon was present. A person cannot be found guilty of possessing a firearm if they can prove that they were unaware of its existence.

You Possess A Valid Permit To Carry A Concealed Weapon

Having a registered and legal concealed carry permit makes it highly improbable that you violated the law. This license often must be presented to the sheriff's office and must meet PC 26150 and 26155 standards.

If you were arrested under Penal Code 25400 for unlawful concealed carry, you will be responsible for demonstrating the legitimacy of your license. To obtain a license, one must typically meet certain standards, such as being a county resident, possessing good morals, and providing a legitimate reason for owning a firearm.

The Weapon In Question Was Inside Your House Or Place Of Work

People who are legally able to own and carry firearms in California are allowed to do so even in private places like their homes or places of work.

The Acquisition Of The Firearm Was Illegal And Violates Your Legal Rights

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects individuals from unlawful searches and seizures. If you have proof that law enforcement officers obtained the weapon through an unauthorized search and seizure, even though they did not have a legal search warrant, you can have your charges discharged under Penal Code 25400.

You Owned The Firearm For Self-Defense

Self-defense justifies the need to carry a concealed weapon. This pertains to situations where you have a reasonable fear that you are in imminent danger due to an individual against whom you are fighting an active court case or restraining order.

It will be up to the judge to decide if fear of harm is reasonable. Self-defense is typically not permitted when both individuals have restraining orders against one another unless there is concrete and factual proof of imminent danger to one's life or well-being.

Police Misconduct

One possible defense to allegations of concealed carry is police misconduct. The following behaviors are seen as police misconduct:

  • Hiding or planting a weapon on a victim's vehicle
  • Acquiring a confession by force, intimidation, or coercion
  • Alleging that the firearm was concealed even though you were carrying it in plain sight
  • Violating your legal rights
  • Giving false testimony regarding your case

Such actions are unethical and against the law. You have a good chance of having the charges against you withdrawn if the police misconduct is adequately substantiated. To find out if the police officer has previous complaints, your lawyer can submit a Pitchess motion.

Related Charges

Being accused of carrying concealed weapons is a major offense, and it might not be your sole charge. A single charge can trigger numerous weapon charges. If you have already been charged with possessing a concealed firearm, you could be subject to the extra charges listed below.

Possessing A Silencer Under Penal Code 33410

It is illegal to possess some gun accessories, for example, silencers, and doing so could result in felony charges.

California's Penal Code 16590, Prohibited Weapon Laws

Specific firearms and other potentially dangerous weapons are illegal in California due to the state's stringent gun laws. Some examples of such weapons are cane guns, short-barreled shotguns, blunt objects like brass knuckles, and weapons used in martial arts.

Penal Code 12022.4—Helping Commit A Felony While In Possession Of A Firearm

What would happen if you were charged with another felony while in possession of a firearm? You could face substantially more serious charges in such instances, given the nature and manner of use of your firearm.

Carrying Ammunition Meant to Penetrate Armor or Metal - Penal Code 12022.2

PC 12022.2 expressly prohibits the possession of armor-piercing projectiles while committing a felony. Ammunition that can penetrate metal or armor is subject to strict legal regulations.

You can face harsher punishments if you are found in possession of this ammunition when committing a crime. In addition, you could be subject to additional charges related to the main felony offense.

Penal Code 12022.5 - Personal Use of a Firearm While Perpetrating a Felony

There are additional penalties for using firearms during a felony offense. This applies to both carrying and actually using it while committing the crime. Having a firearm on your person increases the likelihood of a lengthy jail sentence if you are found guilty of the main felony.

Open Carry Laws Under Penal Code 26350

California does not allow open carry. This implies that it is possible to face criminal charges for being in a public place while carrying a firearm openly, regardless of whether the firearm is loaded.

Penal Code 18710 - Possession of Explosive or Destructive Devices

Destructive weapons, like explosives, rockets, and grenades, are prohibited under California PC 18710.

Frequently Asked Questions On Carrying A Concealed Firearm

Below are a few questions people often have about carrying a concealed weapon in California.

Which Persons Are Not Subject To Facing Charges Under Penal Code 25400?

Certain individuals and groups are excluded from conviction under Penal Code 25400. These folks typically possess concealed carry permits and have valid reasons for carrying weapons. People who are not subject to Penal Code 25400 charges include:

  • Hunters and fishermen with valid licenses who own, use, or transport firearms for fishing or hunting purposes
  • Peace officers and honorably discharged or active military personnel
  • Licensed firearms dealers
  • Members of certain groups, such as shooting clubs
  • Bank messengers or guards

These exempt persons have to keep their firearms empty or only use them for authorized purposes. Transporting firearms requires authorization by a legal entity, which entails either possessing the handgun legally or receiving consent from its owner.

PC 25400 Expungement

If you are sentenced to probation, your concealed carry conviction can be expunged. You can apply to have your record expunged once your probation is complete or if the court terminates it early.

With an expungement, prospective employers and landlords will not be able to learn about your conviction. Those with expunged convictions have a better chance at more opportunities and a less restricted future.

However, an expungement does not entirely erase a criminal record. The erasure of your criminal record will not grant you back your rights when your conviction resulted in the revocation of your ability to acquire or possess guns. PC 29800 does not protect charges based on previous felony convictions.

After serving out your probation, you have the option to ask for the expungement, but the judge is not required to approve it. A court can deny record expungement if probation is violated or conditions are not met. Having an attorney fight for you can increase your chances of having your criminal record expunged.

What Makes You Ineligible To Carry A Concealed Weapon In California?

Anyone convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, or domestic violence offenses is ineligible to obtain a concealed carry permit, which allows one to carry a concealed firearm lawfully.

Additionally, a CCW license denial is likely to occur if the applicant has specific domestic violence orders from courts, a history of substance addiction, or a mental illness diagnosis.

What Is The Consequence Of Violating Penal Code 25400 If I Have A Past Firearms Conviction?

Anyone convicted of carrying a concealed firearm will be required to serve a minimum of three months in jail if they have a history of felony convictions or have been convicted for any firearms violation.

Offenders with past convictions for assault using a deadly weapon (Penal Code 245(a)(i)), brandishing a firearm (Penal Code 417), or firing at an occupied building or vehicle (Penal Code 246) are subject to a compulsory jail sentence of up to six months.

Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you are facing Penal Code 25400 charges of carrying a concealed weapon, you can retain the services of an experienced defense attorney. We at Monterey Criminal Attorney can look into the specifics of your case and discuss your options. Seeking help from a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible can make the difference between remaining free and spending time behind bars. Call us now at 831-574-1791.