Under California law, a person can face criminal charges for confronting someone while holding a firearm. Even if you don’t fire the gun or cause harm to someone else, you may still be charged with assault with a firearm. Depending on the specifics of the incident, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges, both of which carry significant and lasting consequences. If you’ve been charged with an assault with a firearm offense in Los Angeles County, contact a trusted criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your options.
How California Defines Assault With a Firearm
Like most states, California defines assault as the attempt to cause injury to someone else. If the alleged victim believes their safety is in imminent danger, you can be charged with assault—even if you didn’t cause any harm. According to Title 8, Chapter 9, Section 245 of the California Penal Code, assault with firearm charges may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on circumstances and entirely at the discretion of the District Attorney. Assaultive offenses involving defendants with little or no criminal history may result in misdemeanor charges while the same conduct by a defendant with a criminal history may be filed as a felony.
Penalties of an Assault With a Firearm Conviction in Los Angeles
If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor assault with a firearm offense, you could spend up to one year in county jail. Felony assault with firearm convictions can lead to a period of 2-4 years in state prison. For assaultive offenses involving a machine gun, assault weapon, .50 BMG rifle, or semiautomatic firearm, the prison sentence increases to 3-12 years. If the alleged victim is a member of law enforcement, a firefighter, or other protected official, the penalties may also increase. Additionally, the court may order you to pay costly fines, and you may struggle with barriers to employment and housing upon your release. If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge, you will lose your right to use, own or possess firearms for 10 years. A felony conviction results in a lifetime ban.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Assault with firearm offenses carry lasting consequences, so you must take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your future. Perhaps you acted in self-defense or in defense of someone else. Even if this was the case, do not attempt to explain yourself at the scene of your arrest. Instead, wait until you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Together, you can develop a sound legal strategy for moving forward.
If you need trusted and effective criminal defense services in Los Angeles County, contact Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 to schedule a free consultation.