California makes it unlawful to shoot at an occupied vehicle or inhabited dwelling. The state defines this crime as any person willfully and maliciously shooting at any: 

  • Inhabited dwellings
  • Inhabited housecars
  • Occupied aircrafts
  • Occupied motor vehicles
  • Occupied buildings

What Does Willfully and Maliciously Mean?

Willfully means the defendant did the act on purpose. An individual acts maliciously when they intended to commit the wrongful act to result in harm to another.

Why Was I Still Charged with This Crime If the Vehicle or Building Wasn't Occupied?

Inhabited structure refers to the place and not whether it was occupied at the time or not. California law considers a structure inhabited if it’s currently used for the purpose of dwelling, whether or not it had occupants at the time of the shooting. 

Is This a Felony?

Yes, in California, it is a felony to fire a weapon at an occupied vehicle or inhabited dwelling. It can be punished with:

  • probation;
  • 6 months to 1 year in jail, or 3 to 7 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of up to $10,000. 

What Will a Prosecutor Have to Prove to Convict Me of This Crime?

The state has to prove that the defendant maliciously and willfully shot a firearm and the defendant shot a firearm at an inhabited dwelling or an occupied motor vehicle or aircraft.

Can I Be Charged with Any Other Crimes Connected with Shooting at an Inhabited Structure or Unoccupied Vehicle?

Yes. A defendant can be charged with crimes related to shooting at a structure or vehicle such as: 

Should I Talk to a Lawyer about Fighting This Charge?

Yes. Contact a criminal defense lawyer about the possible defenses you can use to fight this charge.