Carrying a Loaded Firearm in a Public Place or Vehicle (PC 25850)
Under California Penal Code 25850(a), it is a crime for you to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle in any public place or on a public street.
A public place, for purposes of PC 25850, is anywhere that is readily accessible to the public. This includes parks, sidewalks, public streets, or any area in which it is unlawful to possess a loaded firearm.
In addition to PC 25850(a), there are several of other crimes the prosecution may charge you with, depending on the facts of your case. These include:
- Carrying a Stolen Firearm
- Carrying a Firearm While Actively Participating in a Gang
- Unlawful Possession Due to a Conviction, Court Order, or Mental Illness
- Carrying a Loaded Firearm While You Are the Not Registered Owner
- Carrying a Loaded Concealed Firearm When You Are Not the Registered Owner
- Carrying a Firearm in Violation of the Gun Free School Zone Act
Prosecution of PC 25850(a)
In order to be convicted of this crime under California Penal Code 25850(a), the prosecution must prove that:
(1) You were carrying a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle;
(2) You knew that you were carrying a firearm;
(3) While carrying, you were in a public place or on a public street; AND
(4) The public place or street was an area within:
a. an incorporated city; or
b. an unincorporated area where it was unlawful to discharge a firearm.
Firearm – Defined
A firearm is broadly defined under PC 25850. Anything that can be used as a weapon capable of discharging a projectile through a barrel by combustion is a firearm under this law.
Statutory Exemptions to PC 25850
The law provides for certain exemptions to PC 25850. Thus, you cannot be convicted of unlawfully carrying a loaded firearm in public if you are a:
- Peace officer (such as police, federal agent, corrections or probation offer);
- Honorably retired peace officer;
- Active military personnel;
- Authorized security guard or money transporter;
- Lawfully carrying a firearm for hunting or firing range and the firearm is kept in a locked container; or
- Concealed weapon permit holder.
Sentence and Punishment
Generally, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place is a misdemeanor in California. However, depending on certain factors, you can also be charged with a felony. If convicted of a misdemeanor PC 25850 violation, you face up to 364 days in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
If you are convicted of a felony, you face a sentence of 16 months, two or three years in state prison. Under PC 25850, you can be charged with a felony if:
- You’ve been previously convicted of a felony;
- You were not the registered owner of the firearm;
- You knew you were carrying a stolen firearm; or
- You were carrying while actively participating in a gang.
Possible Defenses to PC 25850
There are several defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can raise on your behalf. Some of these defenses might include:
- You were not carrying a firearm as defined under the law;
- The firearm was not loaded;
- You were not in a public place as defined under the law;
- You were carrying a firearm for self-defense because you reasonably believed you were in immediate and grave danger (PC 26045 makes it lawful to possess a loaded firearm if you believe you are in immediate, grave danger)
- One of the above statutory exemptions applies (PC 25850);
- The police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you; or
- The police did not have probable cause to arrest you.
Frequently Asked Questions on PC 25850
At Wallin & Klarich, we commonly receive questions from clients who are accused of possessing a firearm in public. Some of these include:
1. Can I be arrested for PC 25850(a) for carrying a BB gun?
Most BB guns are powered by CO2 and are not fired by combustion. Therefore, BB guns are not considered firearms for purposes of PC 25850.
2. Why was I arrested for PC 25850(a) if the gun was broken?
It does not matter whether the firearm is in working order so long as it is capable of firing and was designed for that purpose.
3. What if I did not know the gun was loaded?
You need to have knowledge that the gun is loaded in order to be convicted of PC 25850(a). If the prosecution cannot prove that you knew it was loaded, then you should not be convicted.
Have You Been Arrested for Carrying a Loaded Firearm? Call the Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one has been charged with carrying a loaded firearm in a public place in California, you need to contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing gun charges for over 40 years. We will meet with you to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the best outcome possible in your case.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.