As per the Second Amendment to the Constitution, you have a legal right to possess many types of guns, and gun ownership is not automatically a crime. In fact, many citizens own a gun, keeping it safely in their homes, or carrying the gun under a valid concealed weapon permit. San Diego, due to a large military presence and significant gang problems, may have more than its share of guns across the city.
In the state of California, 2,942 people were killed by some type of firearm in 2014. This number is actually lower than every prior year in the state since 1998. Even so, the state of California has some of the harshest penalties for gun crimes. Because of this, if you have been charged with one of the following, it is imperative that you contact an experienced San Diego gun crimes attorney immediately:
- Illegally possessing a firearm;
- Illegally possessing ammunition;
- Brandishing a firearm;
- Illegally transporting a firearm in your vehicle;
- Carrying a concealed firearm;
- Carrying a loaded firearm;
- Negligently discharging a firearm;
- Possessing a firearm on school grounds;
- An ex-felon possessing a firearm;
- The unlawful sale of a firearm;
- Possessing an assault weapon;
- Illegally modifying a firearm;
- Possessing a large capacity magazine;
- Negligently storing a firearm (allowing access by children);
- Possessing a firearm while under the influence of drugs;
- Possessing an unregistered firearm, or
- Using a firearm while committing certain felony crimes.
Penalties for Gun Crimes
Many of the above gun charges are known as “wobblers,” meaning the prosecutor can choose to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor gun crime, you will likely serve little or no jail time, however you may be sentenced to probation, community service, electronic monitoring, victim restitution, treatment programs and/or house arrest. If you are convicted of a felony gun crime, you could be sentenced to felony probation, and up to one year in a San Diego county jail.
Sentence Enhancements for San Diego Gun Crimes
There are many sentence enhancements attached to gun crimes in San Diego. As an example, under Penal Code 12022 and 12022.5, if you are convicted of personally using a gun, up to ten years could be added on to your sentence. The actual length of the enhancement will depend on whether you were simply armed, or you personally used the gun, the type of firearm, and the underlying felony offense.
California’s “10-20-life use a gun and you’re done,” law, (found under California Penal Code 12022.53) applies to 10 different felony offenses (serious or violent), which are “punishable by death or life in prison.” This law can result in a sentence of ten years in prison for using a gun, 20 years in prison for firing a gun, and 25 years to life for killing or seriously injuring another person with a gun, in addition to the sentence received for the underlying felony conviction.
California also has a gang enhancement law (found under California Penal Code 186.22) which is extremely severe, punishing gang members who commit a crime for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with their gang. Depending on the underlying felony offense, if you are convicted of this street gang sentencing enhancement, you could serve an additional two years to life in prison. There are many more enhancement sentences related to San Diego gun crimes.
Potential Defenses to Your Gun Crime Charges in San Diego
While your defense will be tailored specifically to your crime and the circumstances surrounding that crime, your criminal attorney may use one of the following defenses on your behalf:
- You have a license or permit for carrying a concealed weapon;
- You are a licensed firearm dealer;
- You were carrying a gun because you believed your life was in grave danger;
- You were carrying a gun because another person threatened your life;
- You were charged with assault, but lacked the ability to apply enough force to harm anyone;
- You were unaware of the presence of the gun in your car, home, backpack, etc.
- The police conducted an illegal search and seizure, contrary to the Fourth Amendment, or
- There was police misconduct involved in your case.
Other Issues to Consider Regarding Your San Diego Gun Crime Charges
There are a couple of addition issues to consider regarding your gun crime charges in San Diego. First, if you are charged with a felony in which you personally used a gun, a conviction for the crime could count toward the California Three Strikes Law. Second, if you are not a citizen of the United States, a conviction for a gun crime in San Diego could result in deportation. California’s gun crime laws are extensive and complex. It is definitely to your advantage to bring a San Diego criminal defense attorney on board as soon as possible after your arrest. The outcome of your charges is highly dependent on how quickly your attorney is able to begin building a defense on your behalf and defending your rights.
Call a San Diego Gun Crimes Attorney Today
If you’re facing criminal charges, call San Diego gun crimes attorney Vikas Bajaj today. Mr. Bajaj has over 15 years experience helping those accused of a crime. We offer a free consultation.