California has strict gun laws in place regarding the use of firearms and other weapons, including California Penal Code § 417 PC, which prohibits drawing, using or exhibiting a firearm or another type of deadly weapon in a manner that is rude, threatening or angry, also known as “brandishing” a weapon. Fortunately, there are various legal defenses to the charge of brandishing a weapon in California and a criminal defense attorney with experience defending clients against weapons charges can help you determine the best possible defense strategy in your criminal case. If you have been arrested for or charged with brandishing a weapon in Los Angeles, you could face jail time and significant fines, among other legal penalties, including adverse employment, housing and immigration consequences. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.
Affordable Brandishing a Weapon Attorney in Los Angeles
California residents accused of brandishing a weapon have a constitutional right to defend themselves in criminal court, and with a knowledgeable lawyer on your side, you may be able to have your brandishing a weapon charges reduced to a lesser offense, or possibly even dropped altogether. An experienced criminal defense attorney is familiar with the intricacies of the California criminal justice system and can access police reports and other records that may be valuable to your defense, including eyewitness accounts and expert testimony, as well as any evidence the prosecution has against you. If you have been charged with brandishing a weapon in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to obtain qualified legal representation. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles has years of experience protecting the rights of clients arrested on charges of brandishing a weapon and can help you develop a strong defense in your case.
Brandishing a Weapon
The state of California permits citizens to own firearms and other deadly weapons, but there are strict laws in place regulating how they can use, carry and exhibit these weapons, and any violation of these laws carries significant criminal penalties. Under California Penal Code § 417, for example, it is against the law to draw, use or exhibit a deadly weapon in an angry or threatening way in the presence of another person, except for the purpose of self-defense or the defense of another person. According to California law, a “deadly weapon” includes any object, tool or instrument that is inherently dangerous or deadly or that can be used to cause great bodily injury or death. Some possible examples of deadly weapons include the following:
- Baseball bat
- Brass knuckles
The charge of brandishing a weapon in Los Angeles is often accompanied by other weapons charges, such as assault with a deadly weapon. For example, if a man points his unloaded gun directly at another man and threatens to shoot, he may be only charged with brandishing a weapon, since the gun was not loaded. If he points his loaded gun at another man and threatens to shoot, he may be charged with brandishing a weapon and assault with deadly weapon.
Conviction for Brandishing a Weapon Penal Code § 417
When you have been charged with a crime like Penal Code § 417, brandishing a weapon, it is imperative that you have a comprehensive understanding of the language contained within the penal code, so you can be informed of your rights under the law and so you can comprehend the prosecutor’s burden of proof. In order to get a brandishing a weapon conviction, the prosecutor assigned to your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, each of the following elements of the alleged crime:
- You possessed a deadly weapon;
- You drew or exhibited the weapon in an angry, rude or threatening manner in the presence of another person; and
- You were not acting in defense of yourself or someone else.
Brandishing a Weapon vs. Assault with a Deadly Weapon
There are quite a few similarities between California Penal Code § 417 PC, brandishing a weapon, and other weapons charges, including 245 PC, assault with a deadly weapon (ADW), namely the fact that there is no requirement that the defendant actually uses or discharges the weapon, or that the alleged victim suffers any injury or harm as a result of the defendant’s actions. In fact, brandishing a weapon is sometimes charged in connection with ADW or with 245(a)(2) PC, assault with a firearm, which is a subcategory of assault with a deadly weapon. However, there are also important differences between these crimes. In order to be charged with ADW, you must intend to harm or inflict injury on the alleged victim, while with a brandishing a weapon charge, there is no such requirement. By simply lifting your shirt to expose a firearm in your waistband or by showing your neighbor a shotgun for the purpose of causing him or her to be afraid, you could be charged with brandishing a weapon under Penal Code § 417 PC, even if you had no intention of actually using the weapon against the other person.
Penalties for a Brandishing a Weapon Conviction
The penalties associated with a conviction of brandishing a weapon in California can be severe, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. Under California Penal Code § 417 PC, brandishing a deadly weapon other than a firearm is considered a misdemeanor offense punishable by no less than 30 days and no more than one year in county jail. However, there are a great number of factors that can result in more severe penalties, including a felony conviction. For example:
- If you are convicted of brandishing an unloaded firearm (Penal Code § 417(a)(2)(A)), you could face a minimum of 90 days and up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- If you are convicted of brandishing a loaded firearm (Penal Code § 417(b); Penal Code § 417.3), you could be charged with a felony and the penalty could increase to between 16 months and three years in county jail.
- If you are convicted of brandishing a weapon or firearm causing serious bodily injury (Penal Code § 417.6(a)), you could be additionally charged with a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to one year in county jail, or with a felony crime, punishable by up to three years in county jail.
- If you are convicted of brandishing a firearm in the presence of a peace officer (Penal Code § 417(c)), you could face misdemeanor charges, punishable by a minimum of nine months in county jail, or felony charges, punishable by between 16 months and three years in county jail.
- If you are convicted of brandishing a firearm with intent to resist arrest (Penal Code § 417.8), you could be charged with a felony offense, punishable by up to four years in county jail.
Defenses to Brandishing a Weapon Charges
Any time you are accused of a crime in California, you have the right to defend yourself in court and offer an explanation or justification for your alleged behavior as proof of your innocence. Since Penal Code § 417 PC does not require that you use your weapon or actually cause any harm to another person, it happens more often than you might think that innocent people are wrongfully convicted on charges of brandishing a weapon. Fortunately, there are a number of possible defenses you can use in your Los Angeles weapons case, depending on how your criminal defense attorney sees it best to proceed. For example, your attorney could argue that:
- You did not exhibit a deadly weapon in the presence of another person;
- You were showing the weapon to someone in a non-threatening manner;
- By drawing or exhibiting a deadly weapon you were acting in self-defense or in the defense of another person; or
- You were falsely accused by the alleged victim.
Hiring an Experienced Los Angeles Weapons Charge Attorney
No one wants to be charged with a criminal offense of any kind, but weapons charges in particular carry severe penalties that can result in life-altering consequences for you and your loved ones, including a loss of gun rights, difficulty securing a job and roadblocks to renting or buying a home. Brandishing a weapon is a serious offense and a conviction on this weapons charge can jeopardize your future and your personal freedoms. If you or someone you loved has been arrested on a weapons charge in California, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for legal help. Navigating the California criminal justice system on your own can be complicated and confusing, and our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are here to advocate on your behalf. Our legal team will aggressively defend your rights in court and may be able to negotiate reduced charges or convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges against you altogether.