Are All Weapons Charges Felony Charges?
In California, many weapons charges are felony charges. However, some charges may be considered misdemeanors. The details of the situation and other factors can determine whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies.
Felony and Misdemeanor Weapons Charges in California
Some charges are always felonies, such as discharging a semi-automatic pistol at another person. Others may be felonies or misdemeanors based on circumstances. For example, someone simply carrying a loaded firearm or a concealed dagger in a public place may be charged with a misdemeanor. If it is a firearm, the charge may become a felony if the individual is not the registered, lawful owner of the gun. If that person has a prior felony or misdemeanor weapon-related conviction, carrying an unlawful weapon or a loaded gun in public can be a felony or a misdemeanor.
Why Felony Weapons Charges Are So Serious in California
Once a felony weapons charge turns into a conviction, it can prevent you from lawfully buying a firearm or being able to carry a weapon in the future. Felony convictions can prevent you from getting a security clearance, getting some types of jobs, being approved for credit and much more. Depending on your history and the circumstances of the case, you could spend between a year and 20 years in state prison with a felony weapons conviction.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Helps
If you are facing felony weapons charges, it is important to work with a private criminal defense attorney who can fight to have the charges dismissed or reduced if possible. Many criminal charges in California are considered wobblers, which means that they can be either misdemeanors or felonies and that charges can be reduced. Even if a weapons charge is reduced to a misdemeanor in a plea deal that you accept, a misdemeanor conviction can still limit your ability to lawfully buy firearms in the future.
Despite someone being unaware of a state-prohibited weapon or component, the justice system is not very understanding. For example, if you did not know that your folding-stock rifle that you were caught with did not comply with state law, being unaware of the law is not a strong defense, even though it may be the truth. Having an attorney who understands the defenses that work for weapons charges is a must. If you or someone you know is facing felony or misdemeanor weapons charges in California, please contact Schweitzer & Davidian for a consultation.