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California tightly regulates gun usage and ownership, and a person can quickly unknowingly run afoul of the law and find him or herself charged with a crime. With such a complicated legal scheme in place, it may be in your best interests to speak with a Berkeley gun lawyer if you are being charged with a firearm offense. A seasoned defense attorney could help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.

Gun Ownership and Possession in Berkeley

Although the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives us the right to bear arms, California has the power to enact additional laws regulating gun ownership, possession, and usage. In fact, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

Generally, to buy a gun from a licensed dealer, an individual must be at least 21 years old and present a Firearm Safety Certificate (FSC) under California Penal Code §§ 31615 and 26840. Individuals must pass a written firearm safety test, as established in Cal. Penal Code § 31640, before receiving an FSC. Under specific circumstances, those 18 and younger may also possess firearms or handguns.

The law also excludes individuals with certain backgrounds or traits from buying or possessing a gun. This includes people who are:

  • Felons
  • Suffering from mental illness
  • Addicted to narcotics
  • Convicted of certain domestic violence offenses

There are also laws regulating gun registration and the selling of firearms. The scope of the law can be confusing and a well-versed local gun lawyer may help people understand how the rules apply to their charges.

Carrying a Firearm in California

Rightful ownership or possession of a gun does not translate into the person’s right to bring that weapon with him or her wherever he or she goes. California is not an open-carry state. It is a crime to carry a gun in public with a loaded firearm under Cal. Penal Code § 25850, and carrying a concealed weapon is a crime, with minimal exceptions under Cal. Penal Code § 25400.

When traveling with a handgun, Cal. Penal Code § 25610 requires residents to unload the gun and secure it in the trunk or a locked container in their vehicle. Firearms that are not easily hidden, such as shotguns and rifles, do not need securing, but owners must unload them and store the ammunition separately.

There are so many nuances to California’s gun laws and specific federal laws that may impact a particular situation, therefore it may be wise to consult with local attorneys if facing charges.

Penalties for Gun Law Violations in Berkeley

Individuals accused of firearm offenses may face misdemeanor or felony charges. Some unlawful gun-related conduct is always a misdemeanor. Other behavior is always a felony, and then some are wobbler offenses – chargeable as either a misdemeanor or felony based on the prosecutor’s assessment of the case. The sentences associated with gun offenses differ depending on the conduct, the circumstances surrounding the activity, and other mitigating and aggravating factors.

Unless the applicable Code section imposes other penalties, individuals convicted of misdemeanors face a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines as established by Cal. Penal Code § 19, and Cal. Penal Code § 18 starts incarceration times for felony convictions at a minimum of 16 months in prison.

If an individual possesses a firearm at the time of committing certain felonies, as outlined in Cal. Penal Code §§ 12022.5 and 12022.53, his or her term of imprisonment may increase from three to twenty-five years. California’s “use your gun and you’re done” law includes assault, sex crimes, murder, and many more in this list.

A vigorous defense is necessary to protect a defendant’s future. Retaining a knowledgeable gun attorney in Berkeley may help defendants avoid the harshest penalties.

Retain a Seasoned Berkeley Gun Attorney Today

California gun laws can be confusing and unintentionally lead to their violation. Lawyers with a firm grasp of this area of the law are ready to help you better understand the relative laws and defend your rights if needed. Call today to schedule a consultation with a Berkeley gun lawyer at our firm.

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From the moment you reach out to us, we prioritize your well-being and legal interests. Our criminal lawyers are with you every step of the way, from arrest to hearings and beyond, to ensure that your rights are protected. Whether you’re facing charges related to DUI, drug offenses, assault, sex crimes or any other allegation, we have the knowledge and courtroom experience to fight vigorously on your behalf.

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