June 17, 2016 By Wallin & Klarich

It is against the law to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in your vehicle while in public under California Penal Code Section 25850.1 But what exactly does “on your person” mean? The definition of “on your person” was questioned in a recent Supreme Court case involving a man who was carrying a loaded firearm in his backpack.gunfire-300x199.jpg

Is it illegal to carry a weapon in your backpack? How does a backpack factor into concealed carry laws?

California Gun Laws and Backpacks

Steven Wade was arrested after fleeing from police with a loaded revolver in his backpack. His case went all the way to trial, and his attorney was able to win the case by arguing that carrying a gun in a backpack is not the same as carrying it “on the person.”

However, the decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals. This decision was appealed and taken all the way to the Supreme Court. The court was asked to decide if carrying a weapon in your backpack is the same as carrying it on your person.

Defining “On the Person”

Wade’s attorney used two previous court decisions to argue that a firearm can be carried in your backpack.

In one of those decisions, the court ruled that a knife carried in a backpack was not “on the person” of the defendant.2 The attorney argued that the same logic should apply to the weapon in Wade’s backpack.

The attorney also brought up a case in which the court ruled that a gun carried in a suitcase or similar type of bag is considered “on the person” of the person carrying it.3 The attorney argued this decision only applies to concealed weapon laws (California Penal Code Section 25400) rather than the crime of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, which Wade was accused of violating.

The court disagreed with Wade’s attorney, stating that the definition of “on the person” should not be treated differently between the two laws. The court said that by the attorney’s logic, someone carrying a gun in a zipped fanny pack would be compliant with the law while someone holding a gun in a zipped pocket of cargo pants would be violating the law, and this would not make sense.

This court ruling means that carrying a concealed weapon in your backpack or a bag without a permit is illegal, regardless of whether the gun is loaded.

Do you agree with the court’s decision?

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are accused of violating California’s strict weapons laws, you should contact an attorney who has experience handling these matters. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending people accused of violating California firearm laws. Let us help you now.

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

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. People v. Wade, No. S224599, California Supreme Court, May 9, 2016. href=”#ref1″>↩
2. People v. Pellecer (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 508 html.href=”#ref2″>↩
3. People v. Dunn (1976) 61 Cal.App.3d Supp. 12. href=”#ref3″>↩

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