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What Are The Legal Defenses And Penalties Of Possession While Armed

Having drugs on your person while carrying a firearm is a serious crime under California’s state Health and Safety Code (H&SC) 11370.1. It’s considered a felony, and so the punishments can be as severe as: 

  • A maximum of four up to years in state prison.
  • A possible fine that can have a maximum threshold of $10,000. 

It’s worth noting that there are also serious collateral consequences to a California felony conviction. Some of the most serious ones include: 

  • A lifetime ban on possessing or owning any weapon, and
  • A requirement to disclose the conviction when applying for jobs.
Possible Legal Defenses That You Can Use in Court 

As already mentioned, this is considered to be a severe offense. Fortunately, there are a lot of different defenses to convictions that fall under California’s state H&SC 11370.1. 

Some are more general legal defenses that can apply to many cases, while others apply specifically to this code. It’s up to your lawyer to decide which ones are applicable to your particular conviction. They can include: 

  • You didn’t know you had the drugs,
  • The controlled substances weren’t yours,
  • You knew that the drugs were there, but you were unaware that those are, in fact, drugs,
  • The firearm wasn’t loaded,
  • You didn’t know you had a gun,
  • The gun and drugs were discovered while the police were performing an illegal search.
Related California Offense You Can Get Charged With
California’s Health and Safety Code (H&SC) 11350 - possession of drugs 

A drug is a term that has a more general meaning under Code 11350 than it has according to the state’s H&SC Code 11370.1. When discussing this code, a “drug” is a term that refers to a chemical or a controlled substance that’s under government regulation in terms of use, possession, and manufacture.

Along with the well-known heroin, cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine, controlled substances also include: 

  • peyote
  • hallucinogenic substances, like LSD, 
  • Oxycontin, 
  • ketamine,
  • Vicodin, 
  • codeine,
  • barbiturates, and
  • Fentanyl.

Having any of those drugs (besides GHB) under California law is considered a felony. And for it, you can suffer serious consequences such as:

  • a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Sixteen months, or 2 to 3 years in a state county jail. 
  • felony probation

On the other hand, possessing the drug GHB and similar drugs is a “wobbler” offense. And so, the consequences are a lot less severe:  

  • Up to a year in a state county jail.
  • misdemeanor probation
  • $1,000 in fines.
Carrying a Hidden Firearm: Penal Code 25400 PC

Knowingly carrying a hidden firearm with you in a motor vehicle is a crime according to California’s Penal Code 25400 PC. However, if you have the right to own a firearm, you can have in your possession a hidden firearm when in: 

  • A business that you own.
  • A home that you own. 

If there aren’t any circumstances, carrying a hidden firearm is considered to be a misdemeanor. And so the penalties you may suffer include: 

  • A fine of no more than $1,000.
  • Up to a year in jail. 

With that said, on specific occasions, carrying a hidden firearm could potentially become a felony or “wobbler offense”. For example:

  • When you’ve had previous convictions of a firearm offense,
  • When you’re a part of a criminal gang,
  • When you don’t have the right to control the gun/firearm,
  • When you’re not allowed to own or possess a gun under this penal code.
  • You’re banned from keeping or owning a gun because of a previous offense you committed.

In such cases, you can be punished with:

  • Anywhere from 16 months to 3 years in one of California’s state prisons.
  • A fine that can go as high as $10,000. 

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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