Crimes related to discharging a firearm in California can be serious depending upon the circumstances. We have all heard the story of someone celebrating New Years Eve by firing a handgun or rifle in the air either while intoxicated or not. Clearly such activity is not only dangerous but may lead to an arrest where a person may face a litany of different gun and weapons charges. In California, whether you are arrested in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or other counties for firing a weapon, you will need to retain and/or seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as you may be facing serious felony charges which could include prison time.
Firing A Weapon Where No Person is Injured
If you fire a weapon in the air and no one is injured, a person still may be arrested and face numerous guns and weapon charges under the California Penal Code. If someone reports you after firing a weapon on New Year’s Eve, often times the police will respond and find the weapon concealed on the person who fired the weapon either on their person or in their vehicle. Under the California Penal Code, it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm concealed on your person or in your vehicle without a permit to do so. If you are stopped after firing a weapon on New Year’s Eve and the police search you or your vehicle and find a concealed firearm, this can be charged as a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Moreover, California Penal Code section 246.3 prohibits the negligent discharge of a firearm. Specially, California Penal Code section 246.3 prohibits negligently discharging a firearm that could result if death or injury to a person. The firearm must be discharged in a “grossly negligent” manner. Clearly, firing a weapon in the air on New Year’s Eve at a location where it is possible to injure a person, would be grounds for arrest under Penal Code section 246.3. Whether the discharge of the firearm was “grossly negligent” is a legal issue that show be discussed with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. California Penal Code section 246.3 is a “wobbler” which means that it can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Often times that numbers of shots fired, the location of the discharge of the firearm and whether or not alcohol was involved are all factors an experienced criminal defense attorney can assess in determining whether they can get a case dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor where the consequences are less serious than a felony.
Further, if a person is convicted of discharging a firearm as a misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 246.3 they will lose their Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms for 10 years and all weapons owned by the person arrested will be confiscated pursuant to California Penal Code section 29800. In addition, California Penal Code section 29800 provides that a person will lose their Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms for life if convicted of a felony violation of Penal Code section 246.3.
In addition, under California Three Strikes Law, a felony conviction under Penal Code section 246.3 is considered a “strike” and could lead to a more serious sentence if a person is later convicted of another serious or violent felony as defined in California Three Strikes Law.
If a person actually fires a weapon towards an inhabited dwelling or vehicle where no one is injured, then they most likely would be arrested pursuant to California Penal Code section 246 which is a more serious felony charge exposing a person to a conviction that involves state prison. When arrested for violating Penal Code section 246 in California a person should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who has experiences working on felony cases involving guns.
Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm
If you are arrested for discharging a firearm on New Year’s Eve and you have a prior felony conviction in California, you will face felony charges which will expose the person arrested to a state prison sentence. If you have a felony conviction in your past and, even if you have been charged with a minor offense and the police searched your person, home or vehicle to find a gun, you may be charged with “Ex-Felon with a Firearm, or other Weapon”. This happens even if the felony was the youthful indiscretion or long-forgotten offense and even if the possession of the gun was for hunting, sport or other innocent purpose. It is extremely important to make the right legal maneuvers to avoid a conviction for this offense as it may, again, mandate prison time.
Discharge of a Firearm Where A Person is Injured or Killed
Through the years, we have all heard of cases where a person has discharged a firearm on New Year’s Eve and an innocent bystander is injured or in some cases killed. Despite a person lack of intention to actually injure or kill another, such discharge involving injury or death may lead to serious felony charges including assault with a deadly weapon or murder which carries a life prison sentence.
Under California’s Felony-Murder Rule, if a person is convicted of violating California Penal Code section 246.3 where a person is killed, even unintentionally, such violation of 246.3 as a felony is sufficient to support a conviction for second degree murder which could lead to a life prison sentence. As such, it is extremely important to immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney when charged with second degree murder as it relates to Penal Code section 246.3 since an experienced attorney may be able to have the matter dismissed or the 246.3 charge reduced to a misdemeanor which would often times result in the reduction or dismissal of murder charges.