California has some of the most stringent generally prohibited weapon laws, ranging from objects or weapons you can own or possess to weapons you can legally own, possess, and control. These statutes can be very confusing, and you will need to understand if the weapon you possess is prohibited under the California weapon laws. Although some objects and weapons are generally illegal, some become illegal after modifications like increasing your firearms magazine capacity.

If you are facing charges of violating the law against prohibited weapons in Anaheim, you must engage the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You will need someone who understands California law regarding prohibited weapons and knows the procedure the prosecutor uses while gathering evidence against you. Our California Criminal Lawyer Group attorneys will guide and represent you during your case.

Prohibited Weapons Under California PC 16590

California lists some weapons as generally prohibited under PC 16590. Violation of this code is often referred to as possession, sale, and manufacture of banned weapons. Some of the weapons on the list include and are not limited to:

Prohibited Knives, Edged Weapons, and Swords:

  • Ballistic knives under penal code 21110.
  • Belt-buckle knives under penal code 20410.
  • Air gauge knives under penal code 20130.
  • Concealed daggers and firms under penal code 21310.
  • Cane swords under penal code 20510.
  • Writing own knives under penal code 20910.
  • Lipstick case knives under penal code 20610.
  • Concealed knives like in, crutch staff, cane, or shobi zues under penal code 20710.
  • Shuriken is also referred to as throwing stars under penal code 22410

Prohibited Firearms

  • Rifles and short-barreled shotguns, under PC 33215,
  • Firearms or guns that under penal code 24510 are not easily recognized as firearms,
  • Undetectable guns and firearms under penal code 24610,
  • Unconventional guns or pistols under PC 31500,
  • Bullets containing explosive substances under penal code 30210,
  • Wallet guns under penal code 24710,
  • Zip guns, under penal code 33600,
  • Cane guns under penal code 24410,
  • Multiburst Trigger activator under PC 32900,
  • Large capacity magazines that may have more than ten rounds under 32310.

Prohibited martial arts or Melee Weapons

  • Shurikens under penal code 22410,
  • Nunchakus under penal code 22010,
  • Brass or metal knuckles under PC 21810,
  • Leaded canes, blackjacks, billy clubs, and clubs or sandbags, slung shots and saps under PC 22210,
  • Metal military replica grenades, or metal military practice grenades under PC 19200.

Explosives and Ammunition

  • Flechette darts under penal code 30210,
  • Bullets that contain explosive agents or explosive shells under penal code 30210,
  • Metal military hand grenade which can be readily modified into a working hand grenade under penal code 19200,
  • Concealed explosive agents which are not fixed ammunition under penal code 19100.

You should note that the purpose of a generally prohibited weapon list is to ensure that people do not carry, sell, or create instruments that they can conceal easily and use for unlawful or criminal activities.

Elements of Generally Prohibited Weapons Under California Penal Code 16590

For a violating PC 16590 conviction, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubts the following elements:


The prosecution must prove that you manufactured, facilitated the manufacture, possessed, imported, exposed, kept, sold, or encouraged the sale of a generally prohibited weapon in California. Also, they must show that you gave, lent, purchased, or received an object listed under penal code 16590.

You can also end up facing prohibited weapon possession charges even though you were not carrying the prohibited weapon physically. When it comes to possessing a generally prohibited weapon, it can be either actual or constructive. You will face charges for actual possession of a prohibited weapon when you hold it or if you have immediate access to the firearm. Immediate access means the gun is somewhere on your body or in something you are holding or wearing, like a backpack or a purse. For instance, if the police find a pistol in your pocket during an arrest, this is actual possession.

On the other hand, constructive possession involves having access to and control of the prohibited weapon. For instance, if you have a prohibited weapon at home, the prosecution can charge you with constructive possession for having a generally prohibited weapon at home.


For this element, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly took part in an unlawful activity regarding prohibited weapons. Some of the illegal activities include and are not limited to:

  • Manufacture,
  • Sale,
  • Facilitating sales,
  • Purchasing,
  • Possession,
  • Offering to sell,
  • Receiving,
  • Giving.

You should note that for you to be guilty of violating prohibited weapon laws, you will need to know that the object:

  • is a weapon,
  • can be used as a weapon.

You do not have to worry if you are unaware that the object contains features that indicate it can be used as a weapon. You will be innocent of contravening penal code 16590, as you were unaware of the potential to use the object as a prohibited weapon. Additionally, the prosecution does not have to show that the object is operable or that you had the intention to use it as a lethal weapon. Under penal code 16590, the prosecution must show the court that you were aware the object could be used as a deadly weapon.

Example: Marks goes camping with his friends and buys an antique cane at the gift store. He has no idea that the cane has a hidden sword. When he heads to the airport, he is stopped by the airport security, who discovers the sword in his cane. In this case, Mark can plead not guilty as he was not aware that his cane had a hidden sword. He can not be guilty of possessing or owning a prohibited weapon as he had no prior knowledge that the antique cane was illegal and could be used as a lethal weapon.

For this element, the prosecution will consider your intention and purpose in having the object. You will realize that prohibited weapons are generally short,  concealed, and weighed in most cases to make for an effective attack. The prosecution must prove that you used or could use the object to threaten someone and that your intention was not harmless. However, if you have the following charges added to your charge; possession for sale, sale of prohibited weapons, or manufacturing for sale, the prosecution must prove that you intended to sell the banned weapons.

In a situation where your offense involves firearms, you will need to understand the restriction on this as well.

Legal Definition of a firearm

In California, a firearm is any device made to be used as a weapon in which a missile is projected or discharged via its barrel, combustion, or explosion.

Who Can Own a Firearm in California?

California makes it legal for most adults to own long rifles, long shotguns, revolvers, conventional pistols, and ammunition. However, you will follow the law regarding these weapons as they are subject to some restrictions.

When does possession, sale, or manufacture legal firearms become a crime?

It is an offense to sell, possess, or manufacture legal firearms when:

  • Have a criminal record in your history where you had a felony conviction.
  • You are a drug addict.
  • You have two or more convictions for brandishing weapons charges under PC 417.
  • Have a criminal history for certain misdemeanor offenses.
  • You are a person aged below 18 years.
  • Suffering from mental illness.

Under the statute, you can still face charges even when the prohibited weapon is inoperable. The purpose of the law when it comes to prohibited weapons is to protect victims and other third parties from the fear or threat that these weapons evoke in them.

Exemptions to Prohibited Weapon Charges

You can be exempted from prosecution for violating the law against prohibited weapons in certain situations. Some of these situations are:

 Possession of melee weapons by institutions teaching martial arts.

  • Possession for sale or transfer of a prohibited weapon by law enforcement officers.
  • Possession of antique or relic firearms and ammunition by curio or antique sellers.
  • Possession of prohibited weapons by museums, historical societies, or libraries.
  • Use prohibited weapons during the production of movies, videos, or television.
  • When turning in a prohibited weapon to the authorities.
  • Possession of prohibited weapons by forensic labs.
  • Possession, manufacture, transportation, or sale of short-barreled rifles or shotguns, if you have the approval of the Department of Justice.

Legal Defenses Against Generally Prohibited Weapons Charges

There are several legal defenses that you could use when facing generally prohibited weapon charges. Your defense team can decide to use the following defense strategies:

You Had No Knowledge

Remember that for the court to convict you of violating penal code 16590. The law requires you to know that the object was a weapon or could be used for unlawful and illegal purposes. Therefore, you can use lack of knowledge as a defense against these charges.

For example: if your dad had hip surgery and you realize that he requires a cane to assist him as he recuperates. If, while passing a pawn shop, you see a cane and decide to buy it, intending to gift your dad with it. Then later, at the airport security, the officers discovered by twisting the handle that there was a steel blade within the cane by rotating the handle. In this case, you should not be guilty of violating the law as you were unaware that the cane had a blade.

The prosecution may try to charge you for possessing a generally prohibited weapon. However, your attorney can argue that you should not be convicted of knowingly possessing a prohibited weapon since you were unaware you had a prohibited weapon.

The Object Was Not A Prohibited Weapon

You will face charges for violating PC 16590 if you perform an act with a generally prohibited weapon. A prohibited weapon is listed under penal code 16590. Your attorneys can argue that even if you had an object, it was not listed as a generally prohibited weapon under the statute. You will realize that the list under penal code 16590 is very specific. Therefore, if the object the prosecution charges you for possessing, selling, or manufacturing does not meet the threshold for a prohibited weapon, the court should not convict you of the crime.

The Charges are Due to Unlawful Search

In most cases, charges under penal code 16590 arise after the law enforcement officer stops you and conducts an investigation. What you should keep in mind is that the arresting officer cannot search your premises or take any property without having a valid warrant to search. They cannot search you or your premises if they do not have a valid warrant. Your defense attorney can use this defense to ensure that the court reduces or dismisses the charges against you.

Law Enforcement Officers' Misconduct

If the law enforcement officers gathered evidence against you through an unlawful means and search, then the prosecution can not use this evidence in a case against you. The police and other law enforcement officers may use inappropriate behavior that could lead to misconduct. Some of this behavior may include:

  • Seizing the weapons during an illegal search.
  • Coercing and threatening you to confess.
  • Planting or fabricating evidence.
  • Performing any act that amounts to a violation of your rights.


You can use this defense in a case where the police officer persuaded, coerced, or lured you into conducting an unlawful act. The law presumes you resist committing a crime even if an opportunity is readily available. For example, Tim owns a pawn shop, and a law enforcement officer keeps asking him for an antique sword. He resists for a couple of weeks, but the officer is adamant and persuasive. To stop him, Tim accepts and searches for an antique sword which he finally gives the law enforcement officer in a bid to stop him from further pestering him and interfering with his business. In this case, Tim can use entrapment as a defense against generally prohibited weapons charges as he did not willingly participate.

In this example, if the law enforcement officer requests the sword and Tim does not have it but offers to search it and give it to him, he can face charges for violating generally prohibited weapons as he initiated the offense.

The Law Exempts You

If you are among the list that exempts certain people from violating the law against prohibited weapons, provided you meet its conditions. It becomes a crime when you do not meet the requirement laid down by the law regarding banned weapons. To use this defense, you must show the court that you had legal rights to carry the prohibited weapon.

You Had A Permit

The Department of Justice usually permits concealed weapons, but this does not allow you to carry a generally prohibited weapon. However, there are some instances where a permit can allow you to carry a prohibited weapon. If you have banned weapons during your movie production, you will not be liable to face charges for violating generally prohibited weapons.

Insufficient evidence

For a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you had actual or constructive possession of the prohibited weapon. If your defense team can show the court that the evidence against you is inconclusive, the court may dismiss your charges.

Penalties for Generally Prohibited Weapon Convictions

Violation of penal code 16590 is a wobbler offense in California. When it comes to a wobbler offense, the prosecution can charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and your criminal history.

Misdemeanor Conviction Penalties

When the prosecution charges you for a misdemeanor offense, a conviction will result in imprisonment that does not exceed one year in county jail, pay $1,000 in fines, or both jail time and imprisonment.

Felony Conviction Penalties

When you are found guilty of a felony offense, your conviction will lead to imprisonment that does not exceed three years, pay $10,000 in fines, or both imprisonment and payment of fines.

Effects of A Generally Prohibited Weapon Conviction on Your Immigration Status

One of the best things about a conviction for violating penal code 15690 is that it will not harm your immigration status. Sometimes if you are convicted of an offense, and you are a non-citizen, your conviction could result in your deportation, having your records marked as objectionable. An aggravated offense usually hurts your immigration status, and according to Californian laws, violation of penal code 16590 is not an aggravated offense.

Expungement for A Penal Code 16590 Conviction

You can apply to have a judge expunge your penal code 16590 conviction records. You will have to complete your promotion or jail time for this to happen. An expungement ensures that your criminal records are sealed and will not come up when a future employer performs a background check on you. You can easily say that you have never been arrested or had a conviction.

Effects of a Generally Prohibited Weapon Conviction On Your Gun Rights

When the court finds you guilty of violating generally prohibited weapon laws, it will convict you of the crime. A conviction will negatively affect your gun rights.  It is unlawful in California to own, possess, or sell a gun to a convicted felon. Since a violation of penal code 16590 is a wobbler offense, you can lose your gun rights if the court convicts you of a felony offense.

Related Offenses

Several crimes in California are related to or go hand in hand with prohibited weapons. They include :

Carrying a Loaded Gun In Public under Penal Code 25850

California has several gun possession and ownership restrictions that apply to the manner, place, and time you may lawfully possess the firearm. One of these restrictions is carrying a loaded gun in public or a motor vehicle under PC 25850. While facing these charges, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • That you had a firearm in your possession, either on your person or in your car.
  • That you knew you were carrying a gun.
  • You were in a car or public place.

Under the law, a firearm is an object or weapon designed to expel a projectile and discharge through a barrel using the force of an explosion or combustion. Under the law, a taser qualifies as a firearm, while a BB or pellet gun does not qualify. The firearm will be loaded when there is a shell inside the firing chamber or an unexpended cartridge in the magazine.


Carrying a loaded firearm or gun in public is a wobbler offense with a misdemeanor conviction leading to imprisonment that goes up to one year or payment of $1,000 in fines. If the prosecution charges you with a felony offense, a conviction could lead to up to three years imprisonment. You may end up facing a felony conviction if:

  • You have a prior firearm or felony conviction.
  • The gun you had was stolen.
  • You belong to a street gang.
  • You are legally prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm.
  • You have a criminal history of a misdemeanor conviction for an offense against another person.

Carrying an Unloaded Gun in Public

Under PC 26350, carrying an unloaded gun openly in public is unlawful. You should note it is not illegal to have an unloaded weapon in your private residence.


Carrying an unloaded gu8n in public is a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction will result in one-year imprisonment, payment of $1,000 in fines, or both.

 Brandishing a weapon Under PC 417

You will face brandishing weapon charges in California when you draw or exhibit a firearm, gun, a lethal weapon, or when you use a deadly weapon during a fight. You should note that when it comes to this law, it is not only limited to firearms or guns but extends to other objects which you can use as a lethal weapon.

Contact An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

California has one of the most stringent laws regarding weapons, especially firearms. If you are facing charges for violating generally prohibited weapons, you should engage the services of an experienced lawyer in Anaheim. The repercussions from a prohibited weapon conviction can be far-reaching and may affect your life negatively. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, our attorneys will review your case, advise you and represent you in court. It can be a challenging and traumatizing time in your life if you are facing these charges alone, but this does not have to be the case as our lawyers will lend their support and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case. If you have any questions, kindly contact us at 714-766-0965, and we will answer them.