THE SAFFARI LAW FIRM

Firearms and Weapons Offenses

Firearms offenses involve the possession, use, manufacture, sale or transportation of any type of firearm that violates federal, state or local laws. Weapons offenses involve the same in regards to certain weapons that are “generally prohibited” under California law.

What is a Firearms Charge?

No other state has gun laws as complicated, harsh or as comprehensive as California. Firearms charges run the entire gamut of felonies and misdemeanors, and include the following: illegal sale or transfer of a firearm, illegal “straw” purchase of a firearm, carrying firearms aboard public transportation, carrying a concealed firearm without a license, unlawful use of a firearm resulting in death or injury of another, carrying an unregistered firearm, etc.

Other gun charges can stem from the type of firearm at issue (for example, banned weapons, semi-automatic, fully automatic, assault rifles, machine guns, submachine guns, sawed-off, etc.), the type of ammunition (armor-piercing, dum-dum, explosive, etc.), and accessories/modifications (silencers, suppressors, bump stocks, large-capacity magazines, etc.)

Still other serious issues will arise if you are a convinced felon, on parole or probation, a member of or affiliated with a gang or other criminal organization, or have a history of domestic violence or mental illness. Or you could be charged with illegally transporting firearms, failing to lawfully secure firearms, or failing to possess proper permits.

What are the Most Common Firearms Charges?

The most common types of criminal charges in California include the following:

  • Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm (California Penal Code 25850(c)(6) P.C.);
  • Possession of an Illegal Firearm (California Penal Code 16590 P.C.; California Penal Code 30600 P.C.);
  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm (California Penal Code 29800 P.C.);
  • Carrying a Concealed Weapon (California Penal Code 25400 P.C.);
  • Open Carry of a Loaded Firearm (including near restricted locations, such as schools) (California Penal Code 25850 P.C.);
  • Brandishing a Weapon (California Penal Code 417 P.C.);
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon (includes non-injury firearms offenses) (California Penal Code 245(a)(2) P.C.); and
  • Drive-By Shootings (even if you did not fire the gun but were merely a passenger in the car) (California Penal Code 26100 P.C.).

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm charge under California Penal Code 25850(c)(6) P.C., the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 2545):

  • You carried a loaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle;
  • You knew you were carrying a firearm;
  • You were in a public place at the time; and
  • You were not the registered owner under the U.S. Department of Justice.

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm Charge?

If you are convicted of a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm charge under California Penal Code 25850(c)(6) P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor); and
  • A maximum fine of $1,000 (misdemeanor);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Permanent ban (felony) from possessing or owning a firearm (felony);
  • Possible counseling (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm Charge?

Cases involving Firearms and Weapons Offenses can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Firearms and Weapons attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with a Firearms or Weapons Offense, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove the a Firearms or Weapons Offense.

The following are the possible defenses to a Possession of a Loaded Unlicensed Firearm charge:

  • Lack of possession. You were not actually carrying the firearm, either on your person or in your vehicle.
  • Not in public. You were not actually in a public place when you were in possession of the firearm.
  • You were, in fact, the registered owner of the firearm.
  • Firearm not loaded.
  • Lack of knowledge. You were not actually aware you were carrying a firearm. For example, one of your friends slipped his own gun under your driver’s seat in your car.
  • Self-defense of yourself or another person. You reasonably believed you or another person in your presence were in danger of being attacked (and that you or the other person would have suffered great bodily injury or death), and therefore you carried the firearm for self-defense.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who allegedly carried the firearm. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, entrapment, racial profiling, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What is a Weapons Offense Charge?

Under California Penal Code 16590 P.C., you can be prosecuted for possessing, manufacturing, or selling specific "generally prohibited weapons", including the following: a belt buckle knife; brass knuckles; “nunchucks”; and "Ninja throwing stars".

This is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the prosecutor can charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal record.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Charge of Possession, Manufacture, or Sale of an Illegal or Deadly Weapon?

To prove that you are guilty of a charge of Possession, Manufacture, or Sale of an Illegal or Deadly Weapon under California Penal Code 16590 P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 2500):

  • You possessed, manufactured, or offered for sale an illegal or deadly weapon; and
  • You were aware at the time that you possessed, manufactured, or offered for sale an illegal or deadly weapon

What Happens If I am Convicted of Possession, Manufacture, or Sale of an Illegal or Deadly Weapon?

If you are convicted of a charge of Possession, Manufacture, or Sale of an Illegal or Deadly Weapon under California Penal Code 16590 P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, three, or four years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor); and
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 (felony) or $1,000 (misdemeanor);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony, assuming prison is not part of the sentence, or misdemeanor);
  • Permanent ban from possessing or owning a firearm (felony);
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Weapons Offense Charge?

The following are the possible defenses to a Weapons Offense charge:

  • Lack of possession. You were not actually carrying the illegal or deadly weapon, either on your person or in your vehicle.
  • Lack of an illegal or deadly weapon. For example, you used an object or an instrument in the ordinary way in which it was designed; or the object or instrument was not illegal or inherently dangerous or deadly. In other words, it was not a “generally prohibited weapon” under California law.
  • Lack of knowledge. You were not actually aware you were carrying the weapon, object or instrument. For example, one of your friends slipped his own weapon under your driver’s seat in your car.
  • Self-defense of yourself or another person. You reasonably believed you or another person in your presence were in danger of being attacked (and that you or the other person would have suffered great bodily injury or death), and therefore you carried the weapon, object or instrument for self-defense.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who allegedly possessed, manufactured, or sold the weapon. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, entrapment, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).

What Kind of Firearms and Weapons Charges Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented many clients against these types of charges, and has defended both adults and juveniles in these types of cases. Many of her clients were facing decades in prison because of potential sentencing enhancements, including Assault with a Deadly Weapon charges involving the use of semi-automatic weapons, gang enhancements, etc. See her Case Results.

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If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Firearms and Weapons Charges criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).

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