If you have been arrested on gun charges in California the penalties will vary depending on the specific gun law that was violated. Some gun charges are considered misdemeanors while others are considered felonies. In gun charge cases the Judge will typically look at the following factors when considering what penalty to impose:
- Whether the gun charge is a misdemeanor or a felony
- What type of firearm was used
- Criminal history
- Is the offense subject to California firearm sentencing enhancements
In some cases the prosecution may be able to use their discretion to determine if the charge should be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Arrested on gun charges
California has strict gun laws that can carry lengthy prison sentences if convicted. California firearm sentencing enhancements are often mentioned in the media, you may have heard of the “10-20-life ‘use a gun and you’re done’” law, as well as the criminal street gang sentencing enhancement. These two sentencing enhancements tend to be the most common.
What does a sentencing enhancement do?
A sentencing enhancement literally “enhances” your prison sentence by making it longer. If you have been convicted of gun charges, you not only serve the sentence imposed for the felony gun charge, you also serve the sentence imposed with the enhancement.
10-20-life use a gun and you’re done
California is one of the strictest in the nation when it comes to this particular law (California Penal Code Section 12022.53). This law subjects you to ten years in prison for using a gun, twenty years for firing a gun, and twenty-five years-to-life for killing or seriously injuring another person with a gun. These penalties would be imposed in addition to the sentence you receive for the underlying felony conviction. This sentencing enhancement typically only applies to violent felony offenses or felony offenses that would typically be punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Criminal street gang enhancement
Gun charges can be quite severe if they relate to criminal street gang activity. The California gang enhancement (California Penal Code 186.22 PC) punishes gang members and their associates for committing crimes that are:
“for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members”
The criminal street gang enhancement punishes those who are active in a gang regardless of whether or not they are leaders of the gang or even gang members. Depending on the underlying felony gun charge, you could face up to life in prison with this sentencing enhancement.
Felony gun charges and your rights
If you are convicted of any felony gun charges your right to own, possess, or acquire a firearm will be revoked for life. There are also certain misdemeanor firearm offenses that will impose the same restriction such as:
- Assault with a firearm
- Shooting at an inhabited dwelling
- Brandishing a weapon
In addition, misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence may also cause you to lose your gun rights.
Under California’s Three Strikes Law any felony involving a firearm could potentially count as a strike against your record. If you have prior strikes on your record gun charges could add a second or third strike to your record carrying up to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years-to-life in a California state prison.
Contact us for help
For additional information on gun charges, California firearm offenses, or if you would like to confidentially discuss the circumstances of your case, please contact The Law Office of Gregory W. Fox at (559) 222-5800. In most instances an appointment can be scheduled for the same day.