May 6, 2015 By Wallin & Klarich

California’s Penal Code 626.9, also known as the California Gun Free Zone Act (the Act), was enacted in 1995 to further student safety to a from school. The Act makes it illegal to knowingly carry or shoot a gun within 1,000 feet of any school zone; it does not matter whether or not the local school is public or private.

California Gun Free School Zone ActHowever, despite the Act’s restrictions, there are numerous provisions in the law that will exempt you from criminal liability. The law does not apply to merely possessing a gun under the following circumstances:

  • You have written permission by the school district;
  • You’re on private property either at a residence or business as long as you lawfully possess the gun i.e. it’s registered even if it’s within 1,000 feet of a school;
  • You are carrying a concealed pistol or revolver that is (a) unloaded an (b) in a locked container within you’re vehicle;
  • You have a reasonable fear that you might be attacked after you’ve filed a restraining order against another. However, this exemption does not apply if you and your spouse have a mutual automatic restraining order after filing for divorce.

Lawful Course of Business

If you’re a licensed individual engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing, wholesaling, repairing, or dealing in firearms, then PC 626.9 does not apply to you, as long as while possessing the gun(s), you were on the job.

Other Exemptions:

  • Authorized military personnel or police officer;
  • Authorized security guard or transporter for a bank, financial institution, or other common carrier

Consequences for Possessing a Gun

Firearms crimeIf you’re convicted of unlawfully possessing a gun on school grounds in violation of the Act, then you will face up to a five year prison sentence.

If you’re convicted of violating the Act and possessed a gun within 1,000 feet of a school, but not on school grounds, then you’ll also face up to five years in prison if any of the following apply to you:

  • You’ve previously been convicted of a felony;
  • The court has prohibited you from carrying a weapon due to certain prior offenses such as narcotics possession charges;
  • The court has prohibited you from carrying a weapon as a condition of probation or conditional sentence;
  • You’ve been deemed by the court to be unfit to carry because of a mental disorder or defect; OR
  • You’re carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle and the gun is either loaded or not within a locked container.

Additional Consequences for Shooting or Attempting to Shoot a Gun

If you actually shoot a gun or attempt to shoot a gun, as opposed to mere possession, you will face a prison term of up to seven years.

Any violations for discharging or possession are in addition to any other weapons charges if your gun is not lawfully registered.

Colleges and Universities

Gun on College CampusIf you bring or possess a loaded gun on a college or university campus, you could face up to three years in prison as long as the school gave you sufficient notice that guns are not allowed.

Aside from punishment, the law as it applies to colleges differs in that the gun has to be loaded, whereas in schools grades K-12, it does not have to be. Also, for colleges, the law does not apply if it is not on school grounds as opposed to within 1000 feet of campus.

Possible Defenses

Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich know the legal defenses to a PC 626.9. Some defenses might include:

  • You did not know or could not reasonably know you were near a school zone;
  • The college or university did not provide sufficient notice of a gun prohibition;
  • You were subjected to an illegal search & seizure; OR
  • Any one of the above exemptions apply

Have You Been Arrested for Weapons Charges? Call Wallin & Klarich

If you or a loved one has been charged with any weapons-related crime you need to contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for over 30 years. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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