Shooting At an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Vehicle: California Penal Code 246 PC
Under California Penal Code 246 PC, it is unlawful for any person to maliciously and willfully shoot at any of the following types of objects:
- Inhabited dwellings;
- Occupied buildings;
- Occupied motor vehicles;
- Occupied aircraft;
- Inhabited housecars1; AND
- Inhabited campers.2
Crimes Related to Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Vehicle
In many cases, violations of California Penal Code 246 PC are charged in connection with other crimes. Some of these crimes may include:
- Attempted murder (Penal Code 664 PC)
- Drive-by shooting (Penal Code 26100 PC)
- Assault with a firearm (Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC)
- Felon in possession of a firearm (Penal Code 29800 PC)
- Negligent discharge of firearm (Penal Code 246.3 PC)
Prosecution of 246 PC Charges
In order for you to be convicted of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle, the prosecutor must prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You willfully and maliciously shot a firearm;
- You shot the firearm at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle; AND
- You did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.3
246 PC Terms Defined
A person acts “willfully” when he or she does so willingly or on purpose. A person acts “maliciously” when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act, or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to disturb, defraud, annoy, or injure someone else. A dwelling is “inhabited” if it is currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether it is occupied or not.
Punishment for Shooting an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Vehicle
Under 246 PC, it is a felony to fire upon an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle. Upon conviction, you face a sentence of six months to 364 days in county jail, or three, five, or seven years in a California state prison. In addition, you can be fined up to $10,000.4
Defenses to Penal Code 246 PC Charges
You acted in self-defense. California recognizes self-defense as a defense to a shooting at an inhabited dwelling charge. In order to prevail with this defense, your attorney must show that you:
- Reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of being killed, injured, or touched unlawfully;
- Reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent the imminent danger; and
- The force used was no more than was necessary to accomplish self-defense.5
You fired in defense of another. California also gives you legal right to defend another person with the same amount of force that you would have been authorized to use if you had acted in self-defense.
You were falsely accused. Oftentimes, people are falsely accused of performing a criminal act, either because of mistaken identity or because the person who reports the crime bears ill will toward the accused. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged incident, this may be a strong defense to your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About 246 PC
- Can I be convicted if I shoot at a building when no one is there?
Yes. Under California Penal Code 246 PC, a dwelling is inhabited if it is currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether it is occupied or not. This means that, even if the dwelling or vehicle was vacant, you can still be convicted of shooting an inhabited dwelling or vehicle if it is regularly used by one or more persons. However, if the dwelling is abandoned, the dwelling is not inhabited for purposes of 246 PC and you should not be convicted of this crime.
- Is shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle a “strike” offense under California’s Three Strikes law?
Yes. If you are convicted of a felony violation of 246 PC, it is considered a serious felony for purposes of three strikes law. This means that if you have a conviction for 246 PC on your record, your court could double the sentence for a second felony conviction.
- Can I be deported if I am convicted for violating 246 PC?
Yes. Like other firearms offenses, shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle is a deportable offense. If you are not a U.S. citizen and are convicted of this crime, you are subject to possible deportation.
Contact the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich If You Have Been Charged With a 246 PC Violation
Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle is a serious criminal offense in California subject to the “three strikes” law and possible deportation. If you have been charged with this crime, you will need an experienced and aggressive attorney to defend you.
At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully helping people charged with 246 PC violations and other serious firearm crimes. We can help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in firearm defense near 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 get through this together.
1. See Cal. Veh. Code § 362: “A “house car” is a motor vehicle originally designed, or permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation, or to which a camper has been permanently attached. A motor vehicle to which a camper has been temporarily attached is not a house car except that, for the purposes of Division 11 (commencing with Section 21000) and Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000), a motor vehicle equipped with a camper having an axle that is designed to support a portion of the weight of the camper unit shall be considered a three-axle house car regardless of the method of attachment or manner of registration. A house car shall not be deemed to be a motortruck.↩
2. Cal. Pen. Code § 246 PC.↩
3. CALCRIM No. 965. Shooting at Inhabited House or Occupied Motor Vehicle (Pen. Code, § 246 PC)↩
4. Pursuant to Cal. Pen. Code 672, “Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.↩
5. CALCRIM No. 3470. Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another (Non-Homicide).↩