Action Enhancement Trigger
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Is Possession of a Firearm an Enhanceable Offense

In the film, Falling Down, William Foster was a divorced, unemployed, and frustrated citizen that had finally had enough. Making his way across the streets of Los Angeles, he encountered a series of events (some dangerous, some humorous) that led to an increase in violence and offenses.

The most notable scene took place at a fast food counter where William ordered a meal, was not satisfied with its appearance and began to get hostile. At this point in the altercation there was no offense or notable aggravating factors. Once William removed an automatic weapon from his bag and fired into the ceiling, now committed a multitude of offenses enhanceable by the introduction and use of a firearm.

California Penal Code PC 12022.53 applies to 19 California felonies that are deemed “serious” that are punishable by life in prison or death. There are three primary enhanceable categories that may apply to the 19 California felony offenses, and they are as follows:

  • Using a firearm in the commission of a serious felony;
  • Discharging a firearm in the commission of a serious felony; and,
  • Causing great bodily harm or death in the commission of a serious felony

Under both state and federal law, there are weapons offenses and weapons enhancements. A weapons offense is a stand-alone charge which includes things like being a felon in possession of a gun, carrying an unlicensed firearm or possession of a knife with a certain type of blade. The possession of the weapon is an offense.

A weapons enhancement charge is added on to a charge of the commission of an underlying offense. For example, if you are charged with assault, and it is alleged you used a weapon, you will be charged with assault. Then, the use of a weapon will be added to the charge as an enhancement, which means any penalty imposed for the assault will be enhanced, or increased, due to the use of a weapon.

Under the Guidelines, sentences can be enhanced based on the circumstances surrounding the conviction offense, even if those circumstances are not crimes in and of themselves. For example, a defendant convicted of possessing dangerous weapons or materials while boarding an aircraft may have her sentence enhanced if the offense was committed with "reckless disregard for the safety of human life." ' Because an offender with "reckless disregard for the safety of human life" may pose greater danger to the public than if the offender had regard for human life, the offender's sentence is increased. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law Group patiently await your call.

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