In California, only licensed firearms dealers holding a valid certificate may sell firearms. Generally, it is against the law for people who are not a California licensed firearms dealer to sell a firearm to another individual, unless a licensed dealer completes the transfer. There are exemptions to this law, and whether a person is legally entitled to sell a weapon depends upon the specific facts of the case. If you face charges for the illegal sale of a firearm, the experienced San Bernardino and Riverside County gun crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings can assist you. Attorney Comings is well-versed in California statutory requirements regarding sales of a firearm and prepared to protect your legal rights.
According to California Penal Code 26500 (a), the sale, lease, or transfer of firearms without a license is a crime. A firearm is defined as a device used as a weapon from which a projectile is expelled through a barrel by the force of explosion. Common firearms include revolvers, handguns, pistols, and rifles. California law does not include pellet guns or BB guns as a firearm.
In Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, the state must set forth three elements in order to convict an individual of illegally selling their firearm. First, the individual must have sold their firearm to another person. Second, they must have known they were selling a firearm. Third, they did not have a valid license to sell their firearm at the time.
Violating California Penal Code 26500 is a misdemeanor, and every weapon sold may constitute a separate criminal charge. A conviction carries either six months in county jail, or a fine up to $1,000, or both penalties. This weapons offense is not a strike under California Three Strikes Law, however a conviction can affect immigration proceedings as well as the ability to obtain a professional license.
Overall, all sales of firearms, even between private parties, must be completed through a licensed dealer. In some states, individuals are free to sell their firearms from their homes or through newspaper ads. California provides that a licensed dealer must be involved in order to complete a legal transaction. It is important to note that if a license has expired, or other requirements were not met, you can be charged under Penal Code 26500.
However, legal exemptions exist that allow people to sell, lease, or transfer firearms without a license. Certain individuals are specifically exempt from prosecution under PC 26500, including law enforcement officers, people disposing of guns they have inherited, and those that loan a firearm to a gunsmith for repair. Other exemptions include the sale of an unloaded antique weapon to a licensed collector, or an “infrequent” sale of a firearm.
The exemption for the infrequent sale of a firearm is further defined under California Penal Code 16730. Here, the law states that when the firearm is a handgun, there must be less than 6 handgun transactions a year. The individual also must not sell, lease, or transfer more than 50 total firearms per calendar year.
An individual facing criminal charges for the illegal sale of a firearm may be able to assert a legal defense to dismiss charges. For example, according to exemptions provided by law, that individual may be permitted to sell weapons. The accused must provide proof that they have a license to sell the weapon. Another exemption to the law prohibiting the unlicensed sale of a firearm may apply. A skilled lawyer can help to assess whether you qualify for an exemption.
Entrapment is another potential defense. Entrapment occurs when an individual is coerced or threatened into committing unlawful conduct. A dedicated criminal defense attorney can help to ascertain whether this defense may apply.
Understanding the legal aspects of a weapons offense charge can help you or a loved one assess your options. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we will fight for your rights and keep you apprised of your case throughout the legal process. We help clients living Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, including those in the cities of Palm Desert, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Indio, Moreno Valley, Temecula, Rancho Cucamonga, and Riverside. Contact our office by calling (951) 686-3457 or reach us online to learn more.