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Mr. Donath has spent his entire career defending people and standing up for the rights of the accused.

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  • former deputy public defender

    As a former Deputy Public Defender in Riverside County, Mr. Donath has always been on the defense side of the law. 

  • award winning certified criminal law specialist

    Top 100 Trial Attorneys in California 2012-2014, 2008 Trial Attorney of the Year by the Riverside County Public Defender's Office, and dozens of other awards and accolades.

  • a true passion for defending the accused

    Your lawyer should have a passion for defense, not just a passion for money. Reputation, vigor, and determination go a long way in this business.

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Riverside Weapons Charges Attorney

Laws and regulations regarding the possession and use of weapons in the state of California can be complex. Often, you may not even realize you are breaking a rule until it is too late.

At the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC,  our Riverside weapons charges lawyers  know a simple mistake can lead to steep fines, community service, and even loss of custodial rights. That is why we work hard to clear your name and minimize any charges.

Here are some of the areas we practice as Riverside criminal defense lawyers:

  • Possession of a deadly weapon. In the state of California, it is unlawful to possess a deadly weapon, which may include unregistered firearms, knives, or brass knuckles.
  • Possession of brass knuckles. It is illegal to possess or brandish metal or wooden knuckles.
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon or other prohibited person. All California residents who wish to possess a firearm must pass a Department of Justice background check. You may be charged with this crime if you are found in possession of a firearm after failing this background check.
  • Possession of a concealed firearm. All concealed weapons carriers must have applicable licensing.
  • Possession of a loaded firearm. It is illegal in California to carry a loaded weapon in a public or prohibited place.
  • Possession of a switchblade. Carrying a switchblade on your person in excess of two inches is unlawful in California.
  • Threatening with a weapon. Even if you are licensed to carry a weapon, you may not brandish it or use it to threaten someone else’s life.
  • Assault with a firearm. Defined as attacking someone with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

Depending on the number of prior offenses you have or the circumstances surrounding the crime, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Unfortunately, many weapons charges in California are classified as felonies. If it is your first offense, you may only be charged with a misdemeanor. The state of California charges these crimes differently.

  • Misdemeanor. These kinds of weapons charges carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Felony. Weapons charges classified as felonies often carry the threat of jail time. These time frames vary greatly, from 1-20 years. Additionally, these types of offenses are subject to fines.

As mentioned, punishments can vary from case to case. However, below are some general California guidelines for certain assaults with a deadly weapon.

Penal Code 245(a)(1) and (2): Assault with a Deadly Weapon / Firearm

Because PC 245(a)(1) and PC 245(a)(2) can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, the sentencing varies considerably.

If convicted as a MISDEMEANOR, punishment could include:

  • Up to 1 year of jail, but with a MINIMUM required 6 months of jail.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • A 10 year prohibition on firearm ownership / possession pursuant to PC 29805
  • Confiscation/destruction of the weapon
  • Criminal Protective Order (Restraining Order)
  • Up to 5 years of Summary (informal) probation
  • Anger Management
  • Restitution

If convicted as a FELONY, the potential punishment depends upon whether or not you are given probation by the Judge.

Regardless of whether given probation or not, a conviction for PC 245(a)(2) Assault with a Firearm would constitute a “Strike” for purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law.

IF granted probation:

  • Up to 1 year of jail, but with a MINIMUM required 6 months of jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • A lifetime ban on firearm ownership / possession
  • Confiscation/destruction of the weapon
  • Criminal Protective Order (Restraining Order)
  • Up to 5 Years of Formal Probation
  • Anger management
  • Restitution

IF denied probation:

  • Either 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • A lifetime ban on firearm ownership / possession
  • Confiscation / destruction of the weapon
  • Ineligible for future reduction to a misdemeanor pursuant to PC 17(b)
  • Restitution

Creating a Defense

If you are charged with a weapons-related crime, the defense we craft for you depends on your individual circumstances. However, there are a few general defenses our Riverside weapons charges attorneys can take to the prosecution:

  • Improper search and seizure. We will take a look at the police report and make sure the authorities followed proper protocol. If they did not have a valid warrant or establish probable cause, your case may be dismissed.
  • False allegations. Sometimes parties accuse another of false allegations out of worry for their own involvement, jealousy or a variety of reasons. Each case is different, and false allegations can often be attacked through conflicting evidence and proper cross examination of the witness.
  • Self-defense. If you felt another person posed an imminent threat on your life or the life of a loved one, you may be able to claim you carried, brandished, or discharged a firearm in self-defense.
  • Accidental discharge. Depending on your individual circumstances, we may be able to defend your case by establishing that your firearm was discharged unintentionally. It’s important to recognize that the accident has to be reasonable and believable to a jury.Accident is limited as a defense also to those actions that were not intended at all.

Related: Outline of California’s Gun Laws

What is Considered a Machine Gun under CA Law, PC 245(a)(3)?

Penal Code 245(a)(3) are charges related to assault with a machine gun, as opposed to a deadly weapon or firearm, as previously discussed.

A machine gun under PC 245(a)(3) is defined as any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot by a single function of the trigger and without manual reloading.A .50 BMG rifle is also covered by PC 245(a)(3) with very specific dimensions. Assault weapons are covered by PC 245(a)(3) and include a laundry list of banned weapons from Penal Code Sections 30515 and 30510.

To prove a defendant guilty of PC 245(a)(3), the prosecution must prove:

  • That the defendant did an act with a (machine gun/assault weapon/ .50 BMG rifle) that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
  • The defendant did that act willfully;
  • When the defendant acted, he/she was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that his/her act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
  • When the defendant acted, he/she had the present ability to apply force – meaning in a harmful or offensive manner- with a (machine gun/assault weapon/ .50 BMG rifle), and,
  • The defendant did not act in self defense or defense of someone else.

Choosing the Right Defense Attorney

When you are charged with a weapons-related crime, it is essential that you obtain expert legal counsel as soon as possible. Be polite and courteous to the arresting officer, but do not offer him or her any information or sign any documents before your representation arrives. At Riverside Criminal Defense, we are committed to providing aggressive legal representation to secure you the best outcome possible. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact us for more information.