Carrying a concealed firearm on your person or vehicle without a valid permit is illegal. The law applies to all guns, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Under Penal Code 25400, a concealed firearm is any firearm that is hidden from view or not immediately recognizable as a firearm. This includes guns concealed in clothing, bags, or other items. Owing to the need for public safety, any violation of gun laws, including PC 25400, will result in significant penalties. The Anaheim team of attorneys at California Criminal Lawyer Group explains the crime in detail. We describe the crime under the law, what prosecutors must prove to secure your conviction, the defenses you can raise to challenge the charges, and the likely penalties if convicted. Get in touch with us should you or a loved one face PC 25400 violation charges.
Carrying a Concealed Firearm Under California Law
It is worth pointing out that carrying a concealed firearm is a separate offense from:
- Carrying a loaded gun without a valid permit, a PC 25850 violation, and
- Openly carrying an unloaded gun in public, a PC 26350 violation.
PC 25400 specifically addresses carrying a concealed gun without a permit.
A case was filed in the supreme court challenging California's requirement that applicants for concealed carry permits must show "good cause" to carry a firearm. Further, the requirement also included a discretionary issuance policy, which allowed local law enforcement officials to deny permits even if the applicant met all of the statutory provisions. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2016 upheld California's "concealed carry" laws in a case called Peruta v. County of San Diego.
The court's ruling stated that the Second Amendment does not protect the right to carry concealed firearms. The court found that the state's concealed carry laws were a reasonable regulation of the right to bear arms and were designed to promote public safety.
The court's decision was significant because it was the first time a federal appeals court upheld a "good cause" requirement for concealed carry permits. The ruling was a victory for gun control advocates, who argued that the right to bear arms does not extend to carrying concealed weapons in public places.
However, the issue remains controversial, and there have been other legal challenges to California's concealed carry laws since the Peruta decision.
In general, the following acts can result in a violation of PC 25400:
- Carrying a concealed firearm on your person without a valid permit. This includes carrying a concealed firearm on your body, like in your pocket or under clothing, or in a bag or other item that is not immediately recognizable as a firearm.
- Carrying a concealed firearm in your vehicle without a valid permit. This includes hiding a gun in your vehicle's glove compartment, center console, or a storage area.
- Knowing that a firearm is concealed on your person or in your vehicle. You could be charged with violating PC 25400 even if you did not intend to break the law as long as you knew the firearm was concealed.
Elements of the Crime
A jury will only return a guilty verdict if prosecutors prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You carried a firearm on his/her person or in his/her vehicle.
- The weapon was concealed, meaning it was not visible to others.
- You knew that the gun was concealed.
- You did not have a valid permit to carry the gun concealed.
Simply put, the state must prove you knowingly carried a concealed firearm without a valid permit by proving the above elements.
Let us look at each of the elements in detail.
Meaning of Concealed
It is worth noting that PC 25400 targets concealed carry. Therefore, if you openly carry a gun, you are not in violation of this law but in violation of PC 26350.
Concealed, in the context of Penal Code 25400, means that a firearm is not visible to others and is not readily identifiable as a weapon. This can include carrying a gun on your person in a way that is not visible, such as in a pocket or under clothing, or carrying it in a bag or other item that is not immediately recognizable. In other words, a concealed firearm is hidden from view and not easily detectable.
Note: According to PC 25400(b), open carry in a belt holster is not “concealed carry.”
Revolver, Pistol, or other Firearm Capable of Being Hidden Upon the Person
PC 25400 focuses on guns that meet the following criteria:
- An instrument created to be utilized as a weapon.
- The device can discharge a projectile by a form of combustion or by the force of an explosion.
- The barrel is 16 inches long, no more than 16 inches, or more than 16 inches, and is intended to be easily replaceable with a barrel no more than 16 inches long.
Note: The definition also extends to the receiver and frame of the device.
The frame is the foundation of a handgun. It houses and supports the barrel and other components of the weapon. It provides a grip for the shooter and typically includes the trigger guard and magazine as well. The frame also plays a crucial role in managing recoil and controlling the firing cycle of the handgun.
The receiver, on the other hand, is the housing that contains the firing mechanism, bolt carrier group, and other critical parts of the gun. It is typically found on rifles and other long guns, and it is responsible for loading and ejecting cartridges, cocking the hammer or striker, and firing the weapon. The receiver is often made of a durable material like steel or aluminum, and it can be either integral or modular, depending on the firearm's design.
A firearm is defined as any device designed to be used as a weapon and can expel a projectile through an explosion, gas, or mechanical action. This includes handguns, pistols, tasers, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on a person's body. It also encompasses firearms that have been modified or altered in any way to make them concealable.
The scope of PC 25400 also encompasses devices like rockets, rocket-propelled projectile launchers, or similar implements that hold explosive or incendiary materials, regardless of whether these devices are intended for signaling during distress or emergencies.
Note: BB guns and pellet guns are not part of the list under PC 25400. Both rely on air pressure as opposed to combustion. Additionally, the focus on carrying a concealed firearm is the presence of a gun and not whether the firearm is operable or inoperable.
Carried on the Person
The term "carried on the person" generally refers to having a weapon or firearm physically present and close to one's body, for example, on your clothing or in a bag you carry.
In the context of PC 25400, carrying a concealed firearm "on your person" means having it hidden or obscured from view on your body. This could include, for example, carrying a handgun in a concealed holster on the hip or carrying a concealed firearm in a backpack or purse.
That You Knew of the Gun’s Presence of the Firearm
That you "knew about the presence" of the gun refers to the mental state or intent element of the crime. You are only guilty of carrying a concealed firearm if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew you had a concealed firearm on your person. This means that you must have known the firearm's presence and were aware of its concealment. If you were unaware of the firearm's presence, you could not be convicted under PC 25400.
However, the prosecution does not need to prove that you knew your conduct was illegal or had any criminal intent or motive in carrying the firearm. Knowingly carrying a concealed firearm is sufficient to establish the required mental state for this offense.
The knowledge requirement is in place to prevent individuals from being wrongly convicted without an intention to commit the crime.
Defenses You Can Raise in a Carrying a Concealed Firearm Case
You can fight carrying concealed weapon charges (CCW). Your attorney will raise a defense based on the facts of your case and one that will result in the best legal outcome. The following are the common defenses in a PC 25400 violation case:
Lack of Knowledge
The lack of knowledge defense targets the specific element that the state must prove that you knew of the gun’s presence. You are not guilty of the crime if you did not know you were carrying a concealed firearm.
Most cases where this defense applies include when the defendant was caught driving another person’s car who had a concealed firearm. You could also have carried a bag or worn someone else’s jacket, which had the gun.
This defense requires you to show that you knew the firearm was on your person. For example, if the gun was found in a bag you borrowed from someone else, you could introduce the bag as evidence to support your claim that you did not know the gun was present.
In other situations, circumstantial evidence will support your claim. For example, if police officers found the firearm in a location you did not have access to or control, you could argue that you could not have known it was there.
You Have a Concealed Carry License
If you have a concealed weapon license, you could state this as a defense in a PC 25400 violation charge. In California, specific individuals could be authorized to carry a concealed weapon if they meet particular criteria and obtain a license from the appropriate law enforcement agency.
This defense requires you to present your valid license. You will also need to show that a competent authority issued the permit and that it was valid at the time of the alleged offense.
Penal Code 26150 relates to issuing a license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW). Under this law, a county sheriff or the chief or other head of a municipal police department of any city or city and county could issue a concealed weapon license to an applicant who meets specific requirements.
The requirements for obtaining a CCW license vary depending on the county or municipality. However, applicants must generally be at least 21 years old, have good moral character, complete a firearms safety course, and demonstrate good cause for carrying a concealed weapon.
The law also requires the licensing authority to investigate the applicant's background and criminal record before issuing a CCW license. Additionally, the license must be in writing and include the licensee's name, address, description, photograph, and the license's type and expiration date.
Note: A CCW license does not give the licensee the right to carry a weapon in all situations. There could be restrictions on where and how the weapon can be carried. Violating these restrictions can result in criminal charges.
The Gun Was Locked in the Car’s Trunk or a Locked Container
This defense relies on the fact that PC 25400 applies only to guns "carried on the person." If the firearm was not on your person but was locked in the trunk of your car or a locked container, you could argue that you did not violate the statute.
You must show that the gun was inaccessible to you while you were in the car. For example, if the firearm was in a locked container in the trunk of your car and the key was in your pocket, this defense is not applicable. However, if the gun was in a locked container in the trunk of your car and the key was in a separate location, for example, in your home or office, then you could argue that you did not have access to the gun while you were in the car.
Note: Even if you can use this defense to avoid a conviction under PC 25400, you could still face other charges related to the possession of the gun, for example, violating other laws. The most likely charges are carrying a loaded firearm without a valid permit and openly carrying an unloaded gun in public.
The Gun Was Within Your Business Premises of Residence
You can generally possess a firearm in your residence or business without a permit or license. So, if you carry a concealed weapon but can prove that the gun was within your home or business, you could have a valid defense to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon under Penal Code 25400.
However, this defense only applies if the gun was in your residence or place of business when you were carrying it. If you left your residence or workplace with the gun concealed, even if you intend to return to your home or workplace, this defense would not be ideal.
Additionally, there are certain situations where even if you are in your residence or place of business, you may still be charged with a crime for carrying a concealed weapon even if you are in your residence or place of business. For example, if you have a restraining order against you or are subject to a domestic violence protective order, you may be prohibited from possessing a firearm, even in your own residence.
You Were in Possession of the Weapon for Self Defense
A defense based on carrying a weapon in self-defense could arise if you show that you had the gun because you reasonably believed you were in imminent danger of being attacked or harmed. You must also show that using deadly force was necessary to protect yourself or another person from harm.
Under California law, individuals are generally allowed to use deadly force in self-defense only if they reasonably believe they are in imminent danger of being killed or suffering significant bodily injury. Further, lethal force is necessary to defend against that danger. The force used in self-defense must also be proportional to the threat of harm.
Demonstrating that you carried the weapon in self-defense and that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances could provide a defense to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. However, the self-defense strategy is highly fact-specific. The specific circumstances of your case will be crucial in determining whether this defense is available to you. Additionally, the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove that self-defense was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.
You are a Victim of Police Misconduct
You can assert that you fell victim to police overreach as a defense in your case. However, you must substantiate your claim. Some examples of police misconduct include the following:
- Coerced confessions.
- Police officers giving false testimony during your trial.
- Officers lying in their report that the firearm was hidden, yet you openly carried it.
- Planting a gun in your car or on your person.
- Officers illegally searched your car and seized your gun as evidence — An illegal search and seizure violate your Fourth Amendment rights.
If there is evidence of police misconduct, your attorneys will file a Pitchess motion. The motion allows a defendant in a criminal case to access certain personnel records of a law enforcement officer involved in their case. These records could contain information about past complaints of police misconduct, for example, the use of excessive force or racial profiling. These past acts can be used as evidence to challenge the officer's credibility in court.
If you establish wrongdoing on the officer’s part:
- A judge or the prosecution could dismiss your charges.
- A jury would find you not guilty of the crime.
Penalties You Could Face Upon Conviction
The penalties imposed under PC 25400 vary depending on the facts of the case.
Without aggravating factors, you will face misdemeanor charges. A conviction would result in the following penalties:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation instead of a jail sentence.
- A maximum of one year in jail and/or.
- A fine of up to $1,000.
If your case has aggravating factors, the crime becomes a straight felony or a wobbler.
Your case becomes an automatic felony if the following circumstances are present in your case:
- You actively participate in a criminal street gang.
- You have a previous conviction for a felony or a firearm offense in California.
- You unlawfully possessed the firearm.
- You had a stolen firearm with the knowledge or reasonable cause to believe it was stolen.
- You are ineligible to own or possess a firearm under California's felon with a firearm law (PC 29800).
- You are ineligible to own or possess a firearm under PC 29900 for committing or attempting to commit a violent offense, which includes but is not limited to the following:
- Lewd acts with a minor, and
You will face the following penalties if convicted:
- Formal or felony probation with imprisonment of no more than one year in jail.
- 16 months, 2 or 3 years in jail and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000.
PC 25400 violations become wobblers if the following are true:
You have a prior conviction for a misdemeanor offense involving violence against a person or property or for a crime related to narcotics or dangerous drugs or both of the following:
- Your gun is loaded, or you have the ammunition easily accessible.
- The loaded handgun is not registered to you with the Department of Justice.
Prosecutors decide whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony violation. Their decision factors in your criminal past and the facts of your case.
If convicted of a misdemeanor violation, you will face the following penalties:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation.
- A maximum of one year in jail and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000.
If convicted of a felony violation, you will face the following penalties:
- Formal or felony probation with imprisonment of no more than one year in jail.
- 16 months, 2 or 3 years in jail and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000.
If you have a prior felony or firearm offense conviction and are found guilty of violating PC 25400, you will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of three months in county jail.
You will serve a minimum of three to six months in jail if you have a prior conviction for any of the following and are found guilty of carrying a concealed firearm:
- Assault with a deadly weapon, a PC 245(a)(1) violation.
- Shooting at a car or an inhabited house, a PC 246 violation.
- Brandishing a gun or weapon, a PC 417 violation.
Find a Gun Violation Defense Attorney Near Me
If you or your loved one faces gun violations like PC 25400 charges in Anaheim, do not hesitate to call the California Criminal Lawyer Group. We have a proven track record of helping our clients secure favorable legal outcomes in gun violation cases. Contact us today at 714-766-0965 for more information.