Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public – California Penal Code Section 25850

California Penal Code Section 25850 makes it a crime for a person to carry a loaded firearm while he is in a public place. A person who is caught in possession of a firearm in a public place can be charged with violating penal code section 25850 as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Typically, the prosecution brings misdemeanor charges against first-time offenders. However, in certain situations, such as a felon carrying a firearm or a gang member carrying a firearm, the prosecution must bring felony charges against that individual. You should not take carrying a loaded firearm charge lightly as a conviction of this offense can result in up to three years imprisonment in California State Prison.

So, if you have been charged with violating penal code section 25850, you should immediately contact an experienced firearm defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to prison. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal Code Section 25850

According to California Penal Code Section 25850, “A person is guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when the person carries a loaded firearm on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or in any public place or on any public street in a prohibited area of unincorporated territory. In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded for the purpose of enforcing this section, peace officers are authorized to examine any firearm carried by anyone on the person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unincorporated territory. Refusal to allow a peace officer to inspect a firearm pursuant to this section constitutes probable cause for arrest for violation of this section.”

Proving a Person Guilty of Carrying a Firearm in Public

For the prosecution to prove a person guilty of carrying a firearm, the prosecution must prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict the defendant of this crime. The prosecution must prove the following elements:

·        The defendant was carrying a loaded firearm on his person or in a vehicle

·        The defendant knew he was carrying the firearm, and

·        The defendant was in a public place, on a public street, or in an area where it is unlawful to discharge a firearm

Note: For the purposes of this law, a loaded firearm is one that has a bullet, cartridge, or shell in the firearm’s firing chamber or in the magazine of clip attached to the firearm.

Penalties for Those Convicted of Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public

If the prosecution convicts a person of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, the penalties depend on whether the defendant is convicted of a felony carrying a loaded firearm or misdemeanor carrying a loaded firearm. Here are the penalties associated with either one of them:

Felony Conviction

  • Conviction of a felony offense
  • Imprisonment in the county jail for up to three years
  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Loss of your right to own a firearm for life
  • Placement on formal felony probation

Misdemeanor Conviction

  • Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Possible loss of your right to own a firearm
  • Placement on misdemeanor summary probation

Defenses for Violating Penal Code Section 25850 Prohibiting Public Carry of a Loaded Firearm

If you have been charged with carrying a gun or firearm public in violation of penal code section 25850, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can make to defend you. Please note that the following list of defenses is not exhaustive of all defenses that may apply to your case. To determine which defenses apply to your case, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to go over the facts of your case and prepare the best defense strategy possible.

Here are some of the available defenses that may apply to your case:

  • The defendant did not know that he was carrying a firearm
  • The defendant’s firearm was not loaded
  • The defendant is exempt from criminal liability – this includes police officers, federal agents, military personnel, recreational shooters, and persons with concealed carry permits
  • The firearm was discovered as a result of an illegal search and seizure

Examples of Violating Penal Code 25850 PC – Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public

Tim is driving to school and he gets pulled over for speeding. Police search his vehicle and find a loaded gun in the glovebox compartment. Tim forgot that he had the gun in his vehicle. Here, the prosecution will not be able to convict Tim of carrying a loaded firearm because he had no knowledge of the gun in the glovebox. The story would be different if Tim knew that he knew the gun was in the car but thought that it was loaded. In this situation, Jim would be guilty of violating PC 25850.

Alex lives in a rough neighborhood; crime rates are up and so he decides to buy a gun and keep it with him while he walks to his home just in case things go bad. A week after purchasing the gun, Alex gets stopped by the police and they find a loaded gun in a backpack. Alex can be charged with and convicted of carrying a loaded firearm in violation of PC 25850. The story would be different if Alex had a concealed carry permit.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What constitutes a firearm?

A firearm is any device that discharges a projectile through a barrel by an explosion or combustion. So, a gun, hunting rifle, assault rifle, shotgun, and pistol are considered to be a firearm under the definition of a firearm.

2) Is it always a crime to carry a loaded firearm?

In California, it is unlawful for a person to carry a loaded firearm in public unless the person carrying the firearm has a concealed carry permit, is a member of law enforcement, or is a recreational carrier.

3) Does California allow open carry?

No, California is not an open-carry state.

4) How to carry a firearm lawfully in California?

The best way to carry a firearm lawfully in California is to remove any bullets or shells from the barrel and to remove the magazine from the firearm. If you want to carry a loaded firearm, you must apply for and obtain a concealed carry permit.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with carrying a firearm in public, you should immediately hire an experienced firearms defense attorney at The H Law Group to represent you and keep you from going to jail for a very long period of time. Our attorneys have represented countless clients charged with a variety of different crimes.

So, they have the knowledge and experience to best defend you and achieve successful results for you. At the outset of every case, our criminal defense attorneys will examine the facts of your case to determine whether a dismissal is possible. If a dismissal is possible, we will communicate the request to the prosecution.

If the prosecution refuses to dismiss your case, our attorneys will do all that they can to negotiate the best possible plea deal for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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Charged with a Crime?


Act now to protect your legal rights.