California maintains strict weapons laws, and makes it a crime to possess a “generally prohibited” weapon. According to California Penal Code section 16590, the list of these prohibited weapons is extensive and ranges from belt buckle knives to concealed daggers. If you face a criminal investigation or have been charged with possession of prohibited weapons, San Bernardino and Riverside County gun crime attorney Gregory H. Comings can assist. Attorney Comings is an accomplished criminal defense lawyer skilled in domestic violence, violent crimes, and weapons offenses. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we understand that facing a criminal charge can bring instability to your life. We take pride in clearly and effectively protecting and asserting your legal rights.
Prosecutors may charge certain weapons offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. As a wobbler offense, possession of prohibited weapons, according to Penal Code section 16590, may be charged as a felony if the defendant had a former felony conviction or there are aggravating circumstances. Felonies include up to three years in county jail and a fine of $10,000 or both. A misdemeanor violation can lead to jail time as well as a fine of up to $1,000.
California Penal Code section 16590 prohibits possessing, selling, or manufacturing, specific dangerous weapons. The weapons include knives, melee weapons, firearms and firearm modifications, as well as explosives and ammunition. Many of these weapons are easily concealed, and generally perceived to be used for unlawful, criminal purposes.
To be convicted of violating Penal Code section 16590, the prosecution in San Bernardino and Riverside County must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the defendant knowingly possessed, manufactured or imported a prohibited weapon; and, (2) knew it was an unlawful weapon intended for unlawful purposes or that it could be used for unlawful purposes. Significantly, the prosecution only needs to show that the defendant knew their weapon could have been used unlawfully. They need not show an intent to use it for unlawful purposes. Additionally, the weapon does not need to be in working condition to be used as a weapon.
Defendants who have a prohibited weapon can be charged when the defendant is in constructive possession. Unlike actual possession, when the defendant controls the weapon, constructive possession means they have access to the area where the item is located. This may apply if a defendant is pulled over and a weapon is in the trunk of the vehicle, or the back seat.
It should be noted that there are exceptions to the class of people who may be prosecuted under Penal Code section 16590. Martial arts academies, historians or antique collectors are usually exempt from charges. Film production crew in possession of these weapons may also be exempt.
After being charged, there are several legal defenses that may apply. By asserting a strong defense, the defendant has the opportunity to reduce or even dismiss their charges. In some cases, it may be possible to raise more than one legal defense. Because Penal Code section 16590 is specific, listing prohibited weapons, one defense is that the object possessed does not meet the criteria or share characteristics of those prohibited weapons.
Another potential defense to this crime is lack of knowledge. This defense may apply when the defendant did not know the weapon was in their possession. It may also be appropriate when the defendant was unaware the weapon would have been used for an unlawful purpose.
At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings our priority is to seek the best outcome for clients, tailoring a strong legal defense to the particulars of each case. As an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Comings remains available 24/7 for your questions and concerns. Our office helps clients throughout San Bernardino, Palm Desert, Riverside, Palm Springs, Temecula, Indio, Moreno Valley, Rancho Cucamonga, Victorville, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. To begin the process of asserting your legal rights, contact us by calling (951) 686-3457 or online.