In 2022 alone, there have already been 27 school shootings in the United States. With the rise in gun violence and mass shootings, it is important for firearm owners to know where they can legally carry. The state of California prohibits anyone from bringing dangerous weapons onto school grounds. These laws are outlined in California Penal Code Sections 626.9 and 626.10.
Penal Code Section 626.9 (California’s Gun Free Zone Act)
PC Section 626.9, otherwise known as California’s Gun Free Zone Act, prohibits possessing a loaded or unloaded firearm in a place that you know, or reasonably should know, is a school zone. Additionally, this section prohibits discharging or attempting to discharge a firearm in a school zone with reckless disregard for the safety of another. The Act defines a “firearm” as “any device, designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of any explosion or another form of combustion.” It further defines a “school zone” as “an area in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of the public or private school.”
Penalties Under PC 626.9
A violation of PC Section 626.9 can carry heavy jail sentences. Possessing a firearm on school grounds is prosecuted as a felony if any of the following circumstances apply:
- You have previously been convicted of any felony
- You are within a class of persons prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm
- The firearm is any firearm capable of being concealed upon the person and the offense is punished as a felony
In these cases, you may be facing two, three, or five years in prison. If your circumstances are different from the ones described above, prosecutors may choose to charge you for a misdemeanor instead. However, discharging a firearm on school grounds is always prosecuted as a felony. If you are convicted, you may face three, five, or seven years in prison.
Penal Code Section 626.10
Similarly, PC Section 626.10 makes it a crime for anyone other than peace officers or military personnel to bring or possess dangerous weapons upon the grounds of any public or private school. These dangerous weapons include dirks, daggers, knives with blades longer than 2.5 inches, stun guns, and BB guns. This crime is a wobbler, meaning it can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Penalties Under PC 626.10
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor under PC Section 626.10, you may be imprisoned in county jail for up to a year. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a felony, your prison sentence increases to up to three years. As an alternative to incarceration, a judge may offer probation instead. Given the seriousness of these consequences, it is best to contact an experienced defense attorney if you have been charged with bringing a weapon on school grounds. Your attorney will know the best defenses to get your penalties reduced or even get your case dismissed.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been arrested for bringing a weapon on school grounds, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with weapons-related cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you as well.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.