The laws in California are very strict when it comes to gun possession. For instance, while at least 24 states recognize a gun permit issued in California, California does not honor any out of state permits.
Laws on gun control may also vary across the state depending on the particular county or city. For example, while you are generally not permitted to carry a loaded firearm in most areas of the state, you might be able to if you were issued a license by the sheriff of a specific county (usually one with less than 200,000 residents).
In most cases, however, California law requires that a person obtain a carry concealed weapons permit for their firearms. At the very least, their firearms must be registered with the California Department of Justice.
What Happens If You Have a Gun without a Permit in California?
The types of criminal penalties that a person can face for carrying a gun without a permit in California, will depend on a number of factors. This can include what type of weapon they were carrying (e.g., assault versus handgun), the individual’s criminal history (e.g., are they a repeat offender?), and whether the gun was loaded or not.
Due to the specific nature of these types of cases, the charge is often referred to as a wobbler offense. This means that the offense might have started out as a misdemeanor, but became a felony because of some factor present in the case.
For example, while brandishing a weapon typically results in a misdemeanor offense, a person can be charged with a felony if they are a repeat offender.
Again, contingent on the crime that the defendant is convicted of, they could receive a jail sentence of no longer than one year and a small fine for a misdemeanor, or they could receive a larger fine and a prison sentence for more than one year if charged with a felony.
There is also a possibility that a conviction might lead to a loss of their gun rights. In some cases, they may be able to reinstate their gun rights (e.g., owning, possessing, and purchasing a firearm), but in others, a conviction could earn them a ban from weapons or firearms for life.
How Do You Apply for a Carry a Concealed Weapon Permit in California?
A person who wishes to apply for a carry concealed weapons permit in California must first be able to prove that they are in fact a California resident. Once this is established, they may contact either their local sheriff’s office or their city police department to start the application process.
It should be noted that a person may only apply to a city police department if they are a resident of an incorporated city. However, an incorporated city resident is also allowed to apply at their local sheriff’s office.
On the other hand, if the person does not live in an incorporated city, then they must apply at their local sheriff’s office and not at their city police department. If this seems confusing, then it may be best to check with a local law enforcement agency for further details.
There are several requirements that must be fulfilled in order to complete the application process, including:
- Paying an application fee;
- Being fingerprinted;
- Passing a background check;
- Proving that the person is of good moral character;
- Taking an approved training course on firearms (usually a minimum of 8 hours); and
- Demonstrating good cause for obtaining the permit.
More specifically, in regard to the good cause prong above, California state law provides that it will only issue a permit if the resident can show they have a good reason for wanting the permit.
Their reason cannot be generally stated, such as “for self-defense”, but rather it must contain a substantial explanation like there is an immediate danger that justifies extreme protection measures.
As for the training course requirement, California state law requires that those seeking a permit have to show proof that they attended special gun training classes. These programs are usually offered locally and involve learning skills, such as shooting techniques, tips for safe handling, and live firing exercises.
It does not matter whether the person already knows how to handle a weapon. They will still have to complete the training courses to receive a permit because it is mandated by law.
In addition, the individual may also be subjected to a psychological exam. However, this requirement will vary depending on the person’s county or city. If it is required though, then they should expect to pay a fee of up to no more than $150.
Finally, if a person fails to meet any of the above requirements, then their application will most likely be denied and they will not be able to obtain a permit. It is also important to keep in mind that law enforcement has a wide range of power over granting or denying an application. Thus, a person may be denied even after completing the necessary steps.
What is Considered a Concealed Weapon in California?
Not every weapon is considered a permissible concealed weapon in California. This means that despite having a permit, certain weapons may still not be legal within the state.
Weapons that do meet the definition for a concealed weapon include types of pistols, revolvers, and any other firearms that a person can easily hide on their person.
On the other hand, weapons, such as assault weapons, sawed-off shotguns, and brass knuckles, are prohibited whether a person has a permit or not.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Facing a Weapons Violation in California?
The gun laws in California can be fairly difficult to interpret in general, but the fact that these laws are constantly changing and being amended, only makes this task that much more challenging. Added to this already complex process is the issue of a weapons violation, which is a matter that should be taken very seriously because it can lead to severe legal penalties.
Therefore, if you are facing a weapons violation charge in California, then you should contact a California criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will be able to determine the best course of legal action for your case by researching the relevant California state laws.
An experienced criminal lawyer can also tell you if there are any defenses available that you can raise against the charge in order to either get it dropped, or to potentially reduce any resulting criminal punishments. Most importantly, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court if necessary.