Weapons Possession & Weapons Enhancements

In California, the unlawful possession of a weapon and/or the use of a weapon during the commission of a crime carries with it potentially significant punishment.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, a defendant who commits a crime using a weapon may be charged with separate counts for the unlawful possession of the weapon; another crime that may be alleged; AND an enhanced (or increased) sentence for the use of a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of that crime.  The combination of these charges can add up to a potential sentence of many years and are best addressed as early as possible by an experienced and competent attorney.

If you or someone you care about is facing an weapons-related charge of any kind, the criminal defense attorneys at the Weinrieb Law Firm can help explain the charges and properly defend against them.  We can be reached twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week at (818) 933-6555.

Unlawful Weapons Possession

California law makes the unlawful possession of a weapon a crime in itself, separate from any "weapons enhancements" that may apply in a particular case if a weapon is used in the commission of a crime.
While every case must be evaluated on its specific facts, the following are common weapons possession charges:

  • Penal Code § 12021 – Unlawful possession of a firearm by any convicted felon or a person addicted to a narcotic drug.  This is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
  • Penal Code § 12025 – Carrying a concealed weapon upon one's person or within a vehicle.  This is a "wobbler" and may be charged as, and is punishable as, either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the particular facts of the case.
  • Penal Code § 12020 – The manufacture, import, sale or possession of certain weapons and explosives.  This is a "wobbler" and may be charged as, and is punishable as, either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the particular facts of the case.

Commonly Charged Weapons Enhancements

While every case must be evaluated on its specific facts, the following is a list of common weapons enhancements and the potential punishments for each enhancement that may be added to any punishment for the underlying criminal charge:

  • Penal Code § 12021.5(a) – Individual armed with firearm during street gang crime. Enhancement - 1, 2 or 3 years.
  • Penal Code § 12021.5(b) – Individual armed with firearm and specified magazine during a street gang crime. Enhancement - 2, 3 or 4 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022(a)(1) – Defendant is the principal in a felony in which any principal is armed with any firearm.  Enhancement - 1 year.
  • Penal Code § 12022(a)(2) – Defendant is the principal in a felony in which any principal is armed with an assault weapon or machine gun.  Enhancement - 3 years. 
  • Penal Code § 12022(a)(2) – Defendant has firearms and drugs present at the same location, even if the defendant is not present when those items are discovered.  Enhancement – 3 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022(b)(1) – Defendant is the principal in a felony or attempted felony in which a deadly or dangerous weapon is used. Enhancement – 1 year.
  • Penal Code § 12022(b)(2) – Defendant is the principal in a carjacking or attempted carjacking in which a deadly or dangerous weapon is used.  Enhancement – 1, 2 or 3 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022(c) – Defendant is personally armed with a firearm in the commission of certain Health & Safety Code offenses.  Enhancement – 3, 4 or 5 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022(d) – Defendant is the principal in a Penal Code § 12022(c) enhancement (see prior bullet point) and knows that another principal is armed with a firearm.  Enhancement – 1, 2 or 3 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.2(a) – Possession of metal-piercing or armor-piercing ammunition while armed with a firearm during the commission or attempted commission of a felony. Enhancement – 3, 4 or 10 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.2(b) – Wearing a body vest in the commission or attempted commission of a violent offense.  Enhancement - 1, 2 or 5 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.3(a) – Using a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission or attempted commission of certain sex crimes.  Enhancement - 3, 4 or 10 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.3(b) – Defendant is armed with a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission or attempted commission of certain sex crimes.  Enhancement - 1, 2 or 5 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.4 – Furnishing a firearm to commit a felony.  Enhancement - 1, 2 or 3 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.5(a) – Personal use of a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of a felony.  Enhancement - 3, 4 or 10 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.5(b) – Personal use of an assault weapon or machine gun in the commission or attempted commission of a felony.  Enhancement - 5, 6 or 10 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.53(b) – Personal use of a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of specified violent offenses whether or not the firearm is loaded or operable.  Enhancement - 10 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.53(c) – Intentional, personal discharge of a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of specified violent offenses.  Enhancement - 20 years.
  • Penal Code § 12022.53(d) – Intentional, personal discharge of a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of specified violent offenses that proximately causes Great Bodily Injury or death to a non-accomplice.  Enhancement - 25 years to life enhancement. 
  • Penal Code § 12022.55 – Intentionally causing GBI or death by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle during commission or attempted commission of a felony.  Enhancement - 5, 6 or 10 years. 

Contact Us

If you or someone you care about is facing criminal investigation or criminal charges of any type, please contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Weinrieb Law Firm. We can be reached twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week at (818) 933-6555, or through the confidential and secure email form on the firm's website at www.VWattorneys.com.

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