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Brandishing a Weapon, Gun or Firearm: California Penal Code 417

Brandishing a Weapon Definition

Under California Penal Code 417, it is unlawful for you to draw or exhibit a deadly weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening way in the presence of another person and not in self defense or in defense of someone. If you unlawfully use a deadly weapon in a fight or quarrel that is also considered brandishing a weapon under the law. The sentencing and punishment for brandishing of a deadly weapon in California can be severe, and you need an experienced attorney to guide you through this critical legal process.

What is a deadly weapon in California?

Drawing or exhibiting a deadly weapon, such as a gun or any other firearm, in a rude, angry or threatening manner is a crime under California Gun Laws -  Brandishing of a Weapon.
Brandishing of a Deadly Weapon – Penal Code 417 – Drawing or exhibiting a deadly weapon or a firearm in a rude, angry or threatening manner.


A deadly weapon can be anything from a firearm to a baseball bat or even a bottle and is defined as “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.”

Prosecution for a charge of brandishing a deadly weapon in California

In order to convict you of brandishing a deadly weapon, the prosecution must prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.    You possessed a deadly weapon as defined by law, and

2.    You drew or exhibited the weapon in a rude, angry or threatening manner in front of someone else, or

3.    You actually used the weapon unlawfully in a quarrel or fight with someone, and

4.    You were not acting in self defense or in the defense of someone else

Defenses to a charge of brandishing a weapon

There are a number of defenses to charges of brandishing of a weapon in California that a criminal defense lawyer at Wallin & Klarich can raise on your behalf. Your attorney can argue:

  • You acted in self-defense, or in the defense of someone else
  • You were exhibiting the weapon to someone in a non-threatening manner
  • You did not exhibit a deadly weapon, as defined in the law, in someone’s presence


Each of these defenses can be raised depending upon the facts of your individual case. Be sure to consult a knowledgeable California weapons charge attorney at Wallin & Klarich to learn more.

Brandishing a weapon sentencing and punishment

Under California Penal Code 417, brandishing a deadly weapon other than a firearm is a misdemeanor punishable by at least 30 days and up to one year in the county jail. However, there are several circumstances that can increase your sentence beyond this range:

  • Brandishing an unloaded firearm (PC 417(a)(2)(A)): If you use an unloaded firearm such as a pistol or revolver to threaten someone in public, the sentence increases to a minimum of 90 days and up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.00.


  • Brandishing a loaded firearm (PC 417(b); PC 417.3) In certain cases, if you threaten someone with a loaded firearm, you can be charged with a felony and you could face from 16 months to 3 years in county jail.


  • Brandishing a weapon or firearm causing serious bodily injury (PC 417.6(a)): If you intentionally injure someone during the commission of the crime of brandishing a weapon, you may be additionally charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail, or with a felony, punishable by up to 3 years in county jail.


  • Brandishing a firearm in the presence of a peace officer (PC 417(c)): If you threaten a peace officer on duty with a firearm you may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with a minimum of 9 months in the county jail, or charged with a felony and could face 16 months to 3 years in county jail.


  • Brandishing a firearm with intent to resist arrest (PC 417.8): If you attempt to resist arrest or help someone else to resist arrest by brandishing a firearm, you can be charged with a felony, punishable by 2, 3 or 4 years in county jail.


California Brandishing a weapon FAQs

To help you understand the various aspects of a PC 417 charge, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions pertaining to brandishing of a deadly weapon or firearm charges in our FAQ section. There, you can find answers to questions like:

  1. Is brandishing a deadly weapon charged as a misdemeanor or a felony?
  2. Can I be convicted of brandishing a firearm even though I used a fake gun?
  3. What happens to the weapon or firearm if I am convicted?
  4. Where can I find the best criminal defense lawyer to represent me?


The California Weapons Charges Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending clients charged with violation of California Penal Code 417.
Charged with Brandishing of a Weapon, Gun or Firearm in Southern California? C

Call Wallin and Klarich Today

If you or someone you care about has been arrested on a weapons charge, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Wallin & Klarich who is familiar with such cases. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, Wallin & Klarich has successfully represented clients facing weapons charges for over 30 years. We have the knowledge and the experience to help you win your case.

Call today at (877)466-5245 or fill out our confidential form. We will be there when you call.

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California DUI Defense Lawyer Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. Please contact a criminal attorney for a consultation on your particular legal matter. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of California. * Wallin & Klarich Attorney Joshua Visco