In an effort to keep children from playing with dangerous firearms, California has a number of weapons laws detailing how guns should be stored. Because these laws are vary drastically based on circumstances, it is critical that anyone accused of violating gun storage laws in California immediately contact a top criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
California Gun Storage Laws Involving Minors
Some of the most commonly violated gun storage laws in California are those that involve minors. It is illegal to store a loaded firearm in California where a minor is likely to gain access without permission of his or her parents. In order to prove these charges, the prosecution must be able to show that the gun was loaded, that the defendant knew (or should have known) a minor was likely to access it without their parent’s permission and that the defendant neglected to take reasonable steps to secure the weapon.
That means that if you kept the gun in a locked safe, room, nightstand or other secure area, you have a strong defense. If you equipped the gun with a locking device, you did nothing wrong. Additionally, your defense attorney can also fight the charges if you had no reason to believe a minor could access the weapon -for example, you do not have children and do not have underage visitors to your home.
Gun Storage Laws for Persons Prohibited from Possessing Firearms
While most violations of gun storage laws in California involve minors accessing the guns, you can also be charged if you kept a loaded gun where you knew it was accessible to someone prohibited from possessing firearms under federal or state law. In order for you to be found guilty of this crime, you must have a loaded gun that you failed to secure from an adult cohabitant who you knew was prohibited from possessing a gun. This could include anyone convicted of domestic violence, gang crimes, hate crimes or anyone under a temporary gun restriction order under California’s red flag laws.
Penalties for Violating Gun Storage Laws in California
If a minor or person who cannot legally possess a firearm gets a hold of your loaded, unsecured weapon, you will face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to $1,000. If that person carries the gun in public, displays it in a threatening way, uses it in a fight or causes a minor injury with the weapon, you will face second-degree charges, which are still misdemeanors, but punishable by up to one year in jail. However in cases where that person caused injury or death to himself/herself or another person, the crime may become a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Your defense lawyer may be able to help keep these charges as a misdemeanor depending on the situation.
When Your Child Has Shot Someone or Themselves
The law does take into account the guilt and pain a parent may feel if his or her child has shot someone. This is why parents of children who have been shot due to criminal storage of a firearm cannot be arrested until at least seven days after the shooting. Additionally, the prosecution must prove gross negligence if a child who shot himself, herself or others obtained the gun due to his or her parents’ lax storage.
If you have been accused of violating one of the many gun storage laws in California, whether or not someone has been hurt or not as a result, please call (760) 643-4050 as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.