The Second Amendment to the American Constitution guarantees your right to possess a firearm. According to California PC 25850, carrying a loaded gun in public is a crime. You could face conviction under this statute. In California, violating the law attracts misdemeanor charges. The offense becomes a wobbler if it has aggravating factors. When you face charges, you want to seek legal help immediately.

At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we are ready to represent you in court and work with you to navigate the legal process. We understand the consequences you could face for violating the law. Do not let the gun charges affect your future. Contact our skilled criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges if you seek legal services in Anaheim.

Understanding Gun Offenses in California

California has set restrictive gun laws to regulate firearm use, sale, and possession. As a Californian, you can own or possess a firearm under specific conditions. To lawfully own a gun in California, you must be over 21 years old. Several people are still ineligible to possess guns because of their behavior and past criminal convictions.

After you acquire the firearm, you must handle it safely anywhere and every time, even when not in use. Whether in your car or house, you must keep your firearm safe. It is a gun offense to carry a loaded weapon in public. Note that several people, including law enforcement officers, are exempt.

Unless you have a valid license, when you carry a loaded weapon in public without a license, you violate gun laws. So, when you face charges for carrying a loaded firearm in public, speak with your attorney. The attorney will help you fight the charges.

What are the elements of carrying a loaded firearm?

According to California PC 25850, carrying a loaded weapon in public, whether in your car or person, is a criminal offense. The purpose of the law is to protect people from facing abuse from these criminals. Violation of the statute attracts severe penalties. A police officer could arrest you even if you mistakenly carried a firearm. You can only be guilty once the prosecutor proves the critical elements of the crime. These elements include:

  • You Carried the Loaded Firearm in Person or in Your Car

You will not be guilty of violating the law because you had an unloaded firearm during your arrest. The prosecutor can file another case against you. For example, the prosecutor can publicly file a charge for carrying an unloaded firearm. You want to understand the legal meaning of "loaded" and "firearm.

A firearm is a weapon that discharges projectiles by explosion, like rifles or pistols. Alternatively, a gun is loaded when it has an unexpended cartridge or shell in the chamber and has the power to shoot a ball or shot. Under this statute, you are guilty of criminal charges when you carry a loaded gun in your vehicle or on your person.

  • You Knew You Had Carried the Firearm

The prosecutor must establish that you were aware you had the firearm. If you were unaware of the presence of this firearm in your car or on your person, you cannot face conviction. Ensure you work with a criminal defense attorney to help you challenge the prosecutor's evidence.

  • You Carried the Firearm in a Public Area

As per California PC 26350, it is illegal to openly carry an exposed handgun on your person or vehicle while in public. A gun is a revolver, pistol, or other firearm that can be easily concealed. There are exemptions to the prohibitions against carrying unloaded weapons in public, as per PC 26350.

People with concealed carry permits (CCW) can publicly carry their firearms. Examples of public areas include post offices, schools, and government buildings. You want to apply to the law enforcement agency for a CCW permit to show good moral character. Other parties permitted to carry an unloaded firearm in public include:

  • Law enforcement officers.
  • Licensed manufacturers of fire weapon members of the military.
  • Workers at gun repair shops.

California Restriction for Carrying Loaded Guns

Certain firearms are illegal to sell, manufacture, or possess, and you cannot carry them. The law also forbids the creation, ownership, or sale of short, lightweight, or portable weapons. These tools are primarily employed in criminal activity. Standard prohibitions on carrying loaded guns include the following:

  • Movement and Ownership of Firearm

The law permits you to own a rifle and a short gun. As long as the weapons are not loaded, you can roam around freely. To a limited extent, police agencies permit you to carry a handgun. It means you are not allowed to carry a firearm in certain buildings owned or leased by financial institutions, local or state governments, or educational institutions.

The law permits law enforcement officials to use firearms while performing their duties. You can also use a gun for interstate protection before relocating to another state. The law does not prohibit you from delivering, receiving, or exporting guns for authorized uses.

The weapon needs to be unloaded before being transported. The firearms should not be easily or quickly available in the passenger compartment. The guns should be locked in a container during transit if the transport vehicle lacks a separate compartment for the driver.

  • Having a Concealed Firearm

It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in public in California without a valid license to carry the gun. You are only permitted to carry a concealed weapon publicly if you sincerely believe you are in grave danger. Neither retired nor active peace officers are subject to the ban on carrying concealed weapons. Remember that the decision to provide a license for concealed carry is up to the individual police officer. Only after confirming the following may the licensing agency grant the license:

  • Federal law allows you and you have good morals.
  • You are eligible for residency.

The Legal Penalties

You face wobbler charges if you are found to be in public with a loaded gun. So, the prosecutor can file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor. The court may penalize you in one of the following ways, depending on the facts of your case:

  • You may be placed on official or informal probation if found guilty of a crime. You may serve up to a year in prison.
  • A criminal conviction could result from aggravating circumstances. The incident might result in a 36-month prison sentence.

Aggravating factors include:

  • Having an unregistered firearm.
  • Previous convictions under gun laws.
  • Keeping a stolen firearm.
  • Being part of a street gang.

These circumstances could turn your conviction into a wobbler or a straight felony.

Wobbler Conviction

The court will charge it as a wobbler when, in addition to having the purported unloaded firearm on them, the following circumstances also exist:

The Department of Justice does not recognize you as the gun's owner if you have been convicted of a narcotics felony or a prior misdemeanor.

Straight Felony

The court cannot downgrade a direct felony charge into a misdemeanor charge. A straight felony conviction may result from any of the following circumstances:

  • Prior firearms laws violation conviction.
  • You are found guilty of carrying a loaded gun while knowing it to be stolen.
  • You are a part of a gang that is still active.
  • When the law forbids you from handling, possessing, or owning a firearm, you have it.

Collateral Consequences

A conviction under California PC 25850 can have collateral consequences. It involves specific civil and state penalties. For example, if you are an immigrant and face a sentence for carrying a loaded firearm in public, you could face deportation in addition to your initial sentence.

Before you face conviction, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime. You can beat the charges with a criminal defense attorney working on your case. Remember, you can also face conviction even when the unloaded firearm fails.

Prior Gun Convictions

When you face a conviction for violating California PC 25850 and have a previous conviction relating to dangerous weapons, shooting an inhabitant, or brandishing a gun in public, among other cases, you will face a mandatory jail term of up to 36 months.

Owning a Gun After Violating PC 25850

Facing a misdemeanor charge alone is not a good reason to lose gun ownership rights. If you face the charges and are a minor, the court can restrict you from owning a firearm until you turn thirty. If you face a conviction for a felony charge, the court will limit you from owning the gun for the rest of your life.

When the felony charge applies to PC 25850, you can argue for the court to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. When successful, you can restore your right to own a gun. Usually, you will restore your rights to possess a firearm after you apply for the certificate of rehabilitation. Remember, after you use the certificate of rehabilitation, you receive a governor's pardon.


After facing a felony conviction, it is essential to have the judge reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The judge can expunge the criminal record after you serve your probation under your misdemeanor charge. The expungement of your criminal record depends on your performance in serving your probation. For example, when you comply with the terms of your probation, you can successfully delete the criminal records.

The Potential Defenses to Challenge PC 25850 Charge

You can create defense plans to refute the prosecutor's evidence by collaborating closely with a tenacious criminal defense lawyer. If you have strong defenses, your case may be dismissed, or the charges may be reduced. The following are possible counterarguments your criminal defense lawyer could use against the accusation:

The Suspected Gun Was Unloaded

Only when you carry a loaded weapon can you be charged under PC 25850? So long as the gun you were carrying was not loaded, you can utilize this argument to resist the charge. Being in public with a loaded gun when unloaded is not a crime in California. When the firearm you were carrying does not comply with the definition of a firearm, you may also be able to contest the accusations. For example, carrying a BB or pellet gun is not legally punishable.

You were Unaware the Gun was Loaded

You can carry a gun but cannot know if it is loaded. The issue might arise, for example, if you frequently have unloaded weapons. Your relative, however, secretly loads a firearm. If the police stop you from carrying a loaded handgun in public, you can use a mistake of fact defense.

You can claim that you knew or assumed the purported firearm was unloaded. The court may find you guilty under California PC 26350 of carrying an unloaded weapon in public, even if your defense successfully refutes the charges.

You Did not know If You Had a Firearm With You

If the prosecutor can show you had the weapon on you or in your automobile, you could be found guilty under this provision. This defense could disprove the accusations if you were unaware that the gun was there.

For example, someone else might put the weapon in your pocket or backpack. The court cannot convict you of committing the crime in this situation. You must mount a powerful resistance to prove unaware of the weapons' presence. Ensure that you discuss with your attorney what happened during the commission of the crime.

A Target of Unlawful Searches and Seizures

When the authorities employ illegal seizures and searches to find out you were carrying a loaded weapon, you can use this defense to oppose the charges. The police must have a valid warrant or probable cause before searching your property.

Your criminal defense attorney might ask the court to throw out evidence that law enforcement officers obtained through illegal searches. Your charges may be dropped or reduced if the court excludes the illegally obtained evidence.

You Had the Firearm for Self Defense

Another defense tactic to combat the charges is self-defense. You can carry a loaded weapon when you have good reason to believe you are in danger. When law enforcement agents apprehend you, you can tell them you took the firearm to defend yourself. The court will dismiss or lessen your charges if you accomplish this.

You Did Not Use the Loaded Gun in Public

You must carry the firearm in a public setting to be charged with a crime under this provision. What is a public place? It is a location that the general public can easily access. You are not guilty if you did not carry a loaded gun publicly. For example, you can claim you were not in a public location when the police detained you at a luxury resort. The possession of a firearm in a private setting is not illegal.

The Law Permits You to carry a Firearm

In California, carrying loaded weapons in public is legal for certain people. If the law exempts you, you are not guilty of breaking PC 25850. The law permits police officers, both active and retired, to carry loaded guns in public.

According to federal law, you also have the right to carry a gun if you work as an agent or an enforcement officer. It is also permitted to carry a firearm in public. The law allows a recreational shooter to possess a weapon in public.

You may carry a loaded firearm publicly with a valid state-issued concealed weapon permit. You are allowed to carry a concealed firearm or revolver. You must have good morals to obtain the permit. For the permit to be granted, you must have a valid reason. For instance, you can apply for a permit if you or a loved one are in danger.

To obtain the permit, you must fulfill the residency conditions. You must also have received the required firearms training. According to the law, only specific people can obtain the permit. According to the law, only particular people can obtain the permit. They consist of those found guilty under PC 29800 of felonies and misdemeanors.

The carrying of loaded weapons is forbidden for those who are drug addicts. You cannot obtain a CCW permit when you have a mental health condition. Security officers and private detectives can carry firearms in public under PC 26030 and PC 26015. The investigators and security personnel are required to adhere to the rules.

Other Related Offenses

When the prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to hold you guilty of violating PC 25850, they try looking for other related criminal offenses. At other times, the prosecution may simultaneously gather evidence to convict you of PC25850 and other related crimes. The crimes closely related to carrying loaded weapons include:

     1. Carrying a Concealed Firearm - California PC 25499

Carrying a concealed weapon is one of the offenses closely related to carrying a loaded firearm.

California PC 25850 and PC 26350 prohibit carrying a loaded or unloaded firearm. California 25499 prohibits carrying a concealed firearm on your person. You might also face criminal charges if you drive around with a weapon or in a car you are a passenger in.

Examples of firearms you might conceal include pistols and revolvers. You do not have to carry a loaded weapon to be found personally guilty. The prosecution must demonstrate that you had the firearm or revolver on you or in your car. Once more, the prosecution must establish that the gun was hidden.

Carrying a loaded weapon is a misdemeanor. The offense's consequences are jail time, fines, and a brief probationary period. Aggravating factors may enhance your sentence, and you face felony charges. The aggravating factors include you being a gang member, having a prior felony conviction, and the firearm being known to be stolen.   

Lawful possession, lack of necessary knowledge, self-defense, and illegal search are all possible defenses to carrying a hidden weapon.

     2. You openly carry a gun publicly while it is Exposed California PC 26350.

It is unlawful to carry an exposed pistol on your person or in your vehicle when in public, according to California Penal Code 26350. A revolver, pistol, or other conveniently concealed firearm is called a handgun. According to PC 26350, there are exceptions to the ban on openly carrying a loaded weapon.

Anyone who has obtained a CCW is authorized to carry a gun openly in public—no banned location. Some examples of prohibited zones are post offices, schools, and government facilities. You must submit an application to the law enforcement agency demonstrating your moral character to be granted a CCW permit.

Law enforcement officers, licensed firearms manufacturers, military personnel, and gun repair shop employees can carry an unloaded firearm publicly. Possession of an unloaded firearm in public is a misdemeanor. One year in county jail is one of the punishments for breaking PC25400.

Legal defenses you may use to fight the charges include unlawful search and police entrapment.

     3. Unlicensed Sale of Firearms - California PC 26500

California PC 26500 prohibits selling, transferring, or leasing firearms without a license. Examples of weapons include handguns, pistols, rifles, rockets, and revolvers. The law exempts pellet guns and BB guns as they do not use combustion. Again, the law excludes antique firearms because they are not loaded.

Even when you are licensed, there are weapons you cannot sell. So you want to deal with the firearm you are permitted to handle. The unlicensed sale of firearms is a misdemeanor crime. Violating PC 26500(a) attracts a jail term in the county jail for six months. The penalties apply to each firearm you sell without a license. For instance, you will serve one year in jail if you sell two guns.

Legal defenses may include police misconduct; you are a licensed firearm dealer; you carried the firearm in self-defense; the police entrapped you.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Whether functioning or not, carrying a loaded firearm in public can cost you your future. So, when you face charges of violating gun laws, you want to speak with a competent criminal defense attorney immediately. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we offer a free, confidential evaluation and develop strategies for a strong defense. If you seek legal services in Anaheim, we are here for you. Contact us today at 714-766-0965 and speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.