California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Like many states, it maintains a list of prohibited weapons. These include firearms and accessories considered hazardous or lacking legitimate sporting or self-defense purposes. These prohibited weapons are classified into various categories, with corresponding laws scattered throughout the California Penal Code. Specific sections of the Penal Code address distinct types of prohibited weapons or related offenses.

Convictions related to prohibited weapons can lead to severe consequences. Due to these charges' complexity and potential gravity, it is best to secure legal representation. The Monterey Criminal Attorney is ready to help.

What are the Prohibited Weapons in California?

PC 16590 lists several weapons as prohibited. The list contains firearms and accessories considered exceptionally risky or lacking a valid sporting or self—defense purpose. Here are a few examples of prohibited weapons in California:

  1. Prohibited Firearms:

  • Cane guns — PCs 24410.
  • Guns not immediately recognizable — Addressed under PC 24510.
  • Undetectable firearms — Addressed under PC 24610.
  • Wallet guns — PC 24710.
  • Unconventional pistols — Addressed under PC 31500.
  • Short-barreled shotguns and rifles — PC 33215.
  • Zip guns — PC 33600.
  1. Prohibited Firearm Ammunition or Equipment

  • Camouflaging gun containers — PC 24310.
  • Bullets containing explosive materials — PC 30210.
  • Multiburst trigger activators — PC 32900.
  1. Prohibited Knives or Swords

  • Air gauge knives — PC 20310.
  • Belt-buckle knives — PC 20410.
  • Cane swords — PC 20510.
  • Lipstick case knives — PC 20610.
  • Shobi-Zeus — PC 20710.
  • Writing pen knives — PC 20910.
  • Ballistic knives — PC 21110.
  1. Weapons Used in Martial Arts that are Prohibited

  • Shurikens — PC 22410.
  1. Other Prohibited Weapons

  • Metal replica grenades or metal military practice grenades — PC 19200.
  • Brass knuckles — PC 21810.
  • Leaded canes — PC 22210.
  • Batons, blackjacks, sandclubs, sandbags, or slingshots — PC 22210.

What Constitutes a Crime When Prohibited Weapons Are Involved?

The courts will find you criminally liable if the prosecution proves the following issues beyond a  reasonable doubt as true:

  • You were aware of your actions and knowingly engaged in manufacturing, importing, offering for sale, lending, or possessing a generally prohibited weapon.
  • You committed one of the acts listed in the statute, like manufacturing, importing, offering for sale, lending, or possessing a generally prohibited weapon.
  • Your intent to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose or your awareness of the prohibited nature of the weapon.
  • The item in question meets the legal definition of a "generally prohibited weapon" as outlined in the statute.

Note: Despite the restrictions, certain people are exempt from them. We have discussed them below.

Let us look at specific elements to help you better understand a PC 16590 violation.

  1. Acting Knowingly

Guilt under this statute hinges on your awareness that:

  • An object possesses the characteristics of a weapon or
  • It has the potential for use as such.

Put simply, you are only guilty if you knew the object was inherently a weapon or could be employed as one.

Crucially, a specific intent or a deliberate plan to use the object unlawfully is not a prerequisite for prosecutors to prove. The focus shifts to the individual's knowledge about the object's inherent nature or its potential utility as a weapon.

The critical factor is awareness of the object's properties or potential as a weapon without necessarily requiring a deliberate intention to use it unlawfully.

  1. Possession of the Weapon or Firearm

Possession of the weapon means you physically control, have custody of, or own the prohibited weapon. This control can take different forms:

  • Actual possession — If the prohibited weapon is physically on you, like in your hand, pocket, or backpack.
  • Constructive possession — Even if the weapon is not on you, you could be considered in constructive possession if you have control over the area where the weapon is found or can access and control it.

Individuals Exempt From Prosecution for Handling Prohibited Weapons

Certain exceptions exist for the possession and transfer of generally prohibited weapons. These exceptions include:

  • Turning over to law enforcement — Surrendering a generally prohibited weapon to law enforcement is allowable under certain conditions.
  • Law enforcement agencies — Law enforcement agencies can transfer, sell, or possess weapons under specific circumstances.
  • Possession by forensic laboratories — Forensic laboratories are permitted to possess these weapons within the bounds of the law.
  • Antique or curio possession — Individuals with antique or curio-value relics can legally possess firearms or ammunition.
  • Possession by historical societies, libraries, and museums — Historical societies, museums, and libraries have the legal right to possess these weapons.
  • Use in media productions — Unloaded weapons can be used in televisions, movies, and/or video productions as permitted by law.

These exceptions recognize specific circumstances where possession or transfer is legally acceptable. It is based on the nature of the entity involved or the context in which the weapons are utilized.

Penalties if Convicted of a Penal Code 16590 Violation

A violation of Penal Code 16590 is a wobbler offense. Prosecutors can opt to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

If convicted of misdemeanor charges, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000 or both.

If convicted of felony charges, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to three years in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 or both.

Federal Law on Prohibited Weapons

Engaging in activities involving prohibited weapons, as defined by federal statutes like 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a)(4), (k), (o), and 924(c)(1)(B), could lead to federal charges. Federal law strictly regulates specific weapon categories, and violations can result in criminal charges, including fines and imprisonment.

Specific weapon categories are strictly off-limits under federal law unless explicitly authorized. These include:

  • Destructive devices like grenades, bombs, missiles, rockets, and mines.
  • Machine guns and fully automatic firearms, along with any parts exclusively designed for them,
  • Firearm silencers covering any device intended to diminish a firearm's report.

Additionally, the federal court has prohibited other unspecified weapons. These include:

  • Short-barreled or sawed-off rifles with barrels under 16 inches and
  • Short-barreled or sawed-off shotguns with barrels under 18 inches and weapons made from shotguns with an overall length of less than 26 inches.
  • Weapons made from rifles with an overall length of less than 26 inches.
  • Semi-automatic assault weapons, especially those manufactured post-October 1,1993.

It is worth noting that removing, altering, or destroying (filing off) the serial number of any firearm is a federal violation.

Penalties for a Federal Violation

A violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a)(4) is a misdemeanor that will result in imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Under Section 922(k)(1), smuggling or knowingly importing firearms or ammunition into the country is a crime. It is also a crime to attempt or conspire to do so. These actions should be coupled with the specific intent to participate in or promote activities punishable under:

  • The Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.) or Chapter 705 of title 46, or
  • Constituting a felony, a Federal crime of terrorism, or a drug trafficking crime as defined in section 932(a).

For this violation, you will face the following penalties:

  • Fines as directed by the court.
  • An imprisonment term of up to 15 years or both.

Fighting a PC 16590 Violation Charge

Engaging an experienced attorney is essential when dealing with prohibited weapons charges. They possess the legal expertise needed to assess your situation, determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and devise a tailored defense strategy. Here are the common defenses used in Penal Code 16590 violation cases:

  1. No Prohibited Weapon

Contending that you did not have a prohibited weapon can be a sound defense strategy. This approach involves challenging the prosecution's evidence by asserting that the item in question does not meet the legal criteria for being classified as a prohibited weapon.

You should prove critical elements, including scrutinizing the legal definition of a prohibited weapon as stipulated in relevant statutes, to execute this defense strategy effectively. Additionally, you should present expert testimony to highlight disparities between the item and legal criteria. They could use forensic analysis to dispute its categorization.

Moreover, examining the chain of custody of the alleged prohibited weapon and arguing that it was not intended for use as a weapon can further reinforce the defense. The success of this strategy depends on the specific details of the case and the evidence you introduce in support of this.

  1. A Violation of Your Fourth Amendment Rights

Challenging the legality of the search and seizure as a defense strategy involves asserting that the police discovered the weapon through an unlawful process. This approach centers on questioning the constitutional validity of the methods used during the search. Several key elements can be incorporated into this defense strategy:

  • Fourth Amendment violation — Affirming that the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment, safeguarding against unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Lack of probable cause or warrant — Contending that law enforcement lacked the necessary probable cause or a valid warrant, pivotal elements for a lawful search.
  • Challenging consent — If applicable, disputing the validity of any search consent, emphasizing coercion or lack of voluntary agreement.
  • Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine — Asserting that evidence resulting from the unlawful search is tainted and should be deemed inadmissible as "fruit of the poisonous tree.

If the police collect evidence through an unlawful search and seizure, your attorney can request the judge to exclude that evidence from a criminal case. The exclusionary rule governs this process. The rule seeks to discourage law enforcement misconduct by prohibiting the use of evidence obtained through unconstitutional means in court proceedings.

Should the judge find that the evidence was gathered unlawfully, they can exclude it from the case. The exclusion of this evidence can have significant consequences for the prosecution's case. Without crucial evidence, prosecutors could face challenges in proving the charges. This could result in reduced charges or, in some instances, the dismissal of the entire case.

The outcome, however, depends on various factors, including the nature of the evidence, the charges involved, and the overall strength of the prosecution's case beyond the excluded evidence.

  1. You Were Unaware of the Weapon's Presence

Claiming unawareness of the presence of a prohibited weapon can be a valid defense strategy in some instances. This defense asserts that you did not know the prohibited weapon was on your person or nearby. Key elements of this defense strategy include:

  • Lack of awareness — Emphasizing that you genuinely did not know of the prohibited weapon's presence, whether concealed, placed without your awareness, or owned by someone else.
  • Circumstantial evidence — Attorneys will highlight the absence of direct evidence linking you to the knowledge of the prohibited weapon. This approach is ideal, primarily if its presence cannot be immediately traced to your actions or belongings.
  • Testimony — You should provide your testimony or that of witnesses who can affirm that you were genuinely unaware of the prohibited weapon.
  • Legal definitions —It is also possible to leverage legal definitions and criteria to argue that, without knowledge, the essential intent for possessing a prohibited weapon is lacking.

Successfully asserting this defense strategy requires carefully examining the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the prohibited weapon.

Will a Conviction for Handling a Prohibited Weapon Affect My Immigration Status?

A conviction for possessing a prohibited weapon under PC 16590 generally does not lead to adverse immigration consequences. However, the impact on immigration status depends on several factors, such as:

  • The precise elements of the offense,
  • The type of weapon involved.
  • Your criminal past and
  • The relevant immigration laws.

In broad terms, convictions related to weapons or firearms offenses can potentially trigger immigration consequences, mainly if they fall into categories like crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies. It is best to engage an immigration attorney for tailored assistance.

Impact of Your Conviction on Your Gun Rights

A conviction for a felony in California can result in the loss of Second Amendment rights, affecting the individual's ability to possess firearms. This is commonly known as the "felon in possession" restriction. Both federal and state laws, including the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)), prohibit individuals with felony convictions from possessing firearms. California law extends this restriction to certain misdemeanor offenses as well.

The process of regaining firearm rights after a felony conviction is intricate. Restoration typically involves legal procedures, such as:

  • Obtaining a pardon or
  • Having the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor.

The specifics of firearm rights restoration vary based on the nature of the conviction and individual circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Owing to the complexities of gun laws in California, there are several questions that arise. Here is a look at some of them:

Is It Legal and Safe to Carry a Sawed-Off Shotgun, Even if the Firing Mechanism Has Been Removed?

Attempting to carry a sawed-off shotgun with its firing mechanism removed to scare away potential attackers is not legally advisable. While the intention may be self-defense, the law considers the potential for physical harm and the fear and intimidation these weapons can induce. Even if the weapon is inoperable, its presence can create a threatening atmosphere and lead to unintended consequences. It is evident in scenarios where individuals, unaware of its non-functionality, could still feel coerced.

The prohibition on certain weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, is designed to prevent direct harm and maintain public safety and order. Further, it aims to prevent criminal activities. When considering self-defense measures, choosing options that align with local laws and prioritizing the safety of all parties involved is best.

Can I Use a Short-Barreled Shotgun in a Movie?

Securing an entertainment firearms permit is vital for professionals in the film industry, requiring the use of short-barreled shotguns or rifles as props in California. Issued by the California Department of Justice, this permit guarantees that firearm possession and utilization are strictly for entertainment purposes, aligning with the state's regulatory framework.

Compliance with these legal mandates and acquiring essential permits empower individuals and production entities to incorporate firearms as props in the entertainment sector lawfully. This ensures regulatory adherence and upholds public safety standards during the production process.

Related Offenses

  1. Carrying a Loaded Gun in Public

Carrying a loaded firearm in public, as outlined in PC 25850, means knowingly bearing a loaded gun in an accessible public area without the requisite license. You are only guilty if the prosecution proves the following elements:

  • You knew that you were carrying a firearm.
  • The gun must be loaded, containing live ammunition.
  • Carrying unfolds in public spaces—streets, sidewalks, parks—essentially any accessible area.
  • You lack the essential license for carrying a firearm in public, especially for concealed carry.

Penalties for Carrying a Loaded Gun in Public

Simple violations of PC 25850 are misdemeanors. The penalties are punishable by the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

If your case has aggravating circumstances, prosecutors could pursue the case as a wobbler offense or a straight felony.

This violation becomes a wobbler offense if the following are true:

  • You are a non-registered owner:
  • You have a prior conviction for a certain misdemeanor or drug offense.

Wobblers are either pursued as misdemeanor or felony violations.

Misdemeanor offenses attract the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

Felony offenses attract the following penalties:

  • Up to three years in jail.
  • A of up to $1,000.

The charge of carrying a loaded firearm becomes an outright felony under distinct conditions:

  • Prior felony or firearm conviction — A previous felony conviction or a history of firearm-related offenses transforms the present charge into a direct felony. Past legal entanglements significantly influence the gravity of the current violation.
  • Firearm theft — Possession of a stolen firearm automatically upgrades the charge to a felony. Being associated with a reported stolen gun adds a layer of criminality.
  • Criminal street gang affiliation — Affiliation with a criminal street gang while carrying a loaded firearm results in an immediate felony charge. This connection intensifies the legal consequences of the offense.
  • Unlawful firearm possession — If the firearm in your possession is not lawfully owned or acquired, the charge becomes a felony. Illegitimate possession of the gun underscores the seriousness of the offense.
  • Legal prohibition from firearm ownership — Carrying a loaded firearm becomes a felony if you are legally prohibited from owning or possessing a gun. Violating legal restrictions on firearm ownership amplifies the repercussions of the charge.

For straight felonies, the penalties include the following:

  • A maximum of three years in jail.
  • A of up to $10,000.

You will face a non-negotiable three-month stint in county jail if you:

  • Are in violation of Penal Code 25850 — This law addresses carrying a loaded firearm in public.
  • Carry the weight of previous convictions, specifically for:
  1. A Penal Code 254a1 violation — Assault with a deadly weapon
  2. A Penal Codeviolation — Shooting at an inhabited car or dwelling house
  3. A Penal Code violation — Brandishing a weapon governed by

Note: Convictions for carrying a loaded gun in public have serious consequences, including the loss of your gun rights. If found guilty, you could face restrictions on possessing, owning, or purchasing firearms in the future.

Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

A conviction for firearms-related offenses has wide-ranging consequences affecting various aspects of life. Apart from immediate legal penalties like fines and potential incarceration, the fallout extends to the professional, social, and financial spaces. You can navigate these complexities and mitigate their impacts effectively by strategically planning. Seeking legal counsel becomes imperative for a thorough understanding of the specific implications of your case and for exploring defense and rehabilitation options.

Engaging experienced attorneys plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights and interests of individuals facing firearm-related charges. Their advocacy, legal acumen, and strategic approach significantly contribute to the defense strategy, aiming for a just outcome.

Therefore, should you or a loved one face charges linked to prohibited weapons, do not hesitate to contact the Monterey Criminal Attorney for swift and professional assistance. Our proficiency and support will be pivotal in maneuvering through legal intricacies as we work to secure a positive resolution in your case. Contact us at 831- 574-1791 for further details.