Posted on March 11, 2017

Carrying a Loaded Firearm in Public | California Penal Code 25850 PC


Codified under Penal Code 25850 pc, carrying a loaded firearm in public is a wobbler allowing the District Attorney to charge someone with either a felony or misdemeanor.  Typically, a first-time offense is charged as a misdemeanor unless certain aggravated factors are present elevating the offense to a felony.  There is no requirement that a defendant use the firearm in a menacing manner or during the commission of another crime.  The charge is complete when a person carries a loaded firearm in a public place, including in their vehicle or person.

Contrary to other states, California does not permit a person to legally carry a firearm on their person unless they hold a concealed weapons permit.  California also does not require the firearm to be in working order for a violation of this statute.

Legal Definition and Elements for PC 25850

Penal Code 25850(a) makes it unlawful for someone to carry a loaded firearm on his or her person or inside their vehicle in a public place, street, prohibited area, or in an incorporated territory.[1]  Furthermore, Penal Code 25850(c)(6) is a separate offense and contains an additional requirement that the defendant is not the registered owner with the Department of Justice.[2]

To prove a violation of these crimes, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  1. Defendant carried a loaded firearm;
  2. Defendant knew of its presence;
  3. Defendant was in a public place;
  4. Defendant was not the registered owner (if applicable).

Punishment & Sentencing

A felony conviction for is punishable in the county jail for a period of 16 months, 2, or 3 years.  A misdemeanor violation carries up to one (1) year in the county jail.  As noted above, all violations of PC 25850 are punishable as either a felony or misdemeanor.  If probation is granted, a person may be eligible to reduce their felony conviction to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of their sentence.

Defending Loaded Firearm Charges

  • When the government conducts a search or seizure of a person, the validity of the search or seizure is at issue. This includes an examination of whether there existed probable cause, technicalities of a search warrant, or whether consent was voluntary.  A violation of a person’s search and seizure rights may result in the suppression of the firearm.
  • Certain exceptions apply when someone carries a firearm in public for the purposes of self-defense or defense of another or was licensed to carry a concealed weapon on their person. Additionally, another exception includes when someone uses a firearm for the purposes of signaling a vessel or aircraft.[3]  Or if someone momentarily carries a firearm for the purposes of turning the firearm over to law enforcement.
  • The term “carrying” includes on someone’s person or in their vehicle. It does not arguably include situations where the firearm is in a locked contain not accessible by the defendant.  Furthermore, there may not circumstances where a person carries another person’s firearm without having knowledge of the firearms existence.  This is true when a defendant temporarily holds onto a colleague bag containing a loaded firearm.
  • Firearms include hand guns, shot guns, or rifles. However, weapons such as a BB gun or pellet gun are not considered a firearm because a BB or pellet is projected using compress air whereas a firearm projects a bullet with the use of chemical combustion.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Confidential Consultation

If you’ve been arrested or charged with a firearm offense, then contact an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.  Mr. Rogers has extensive experience representing client’s accused of all forms of firearm charges and regularly appears in all Orange County courthouses.



Legal References:

[1] “Prohibited area” means a place where it is unlawful to discharge a weapon.  See Penal Code 17030.

[2] “(6) Where the person is not listed with the Department of Justice pursuant to Section 11106 as the registered owner of the handgun, by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both that fine and imprisonment.”

[3] See CALCRIM No. 2530.

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