What is “Brandishing” a Weapon in California Law?

Brandishing a weapon, gun or firearm means showing, waving or pointing it in a manner which others find threatening.

Under California Penal Code (CPC) 417, it is unlawful for you to draw or exhibit a deadly armament in a rude, angry, or threatening way in the presence of another person and not in self defense or in defense of someone. If you unlawfully use a deadly weapon in a fight or quarrel that is also considered brandishing a weapon under the law.

The Law against Brandishing a Weapon, Gun or Firearm as written in the California Penal Code 417:

417.  (a) (1) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the
presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon
whatsoever, other than a firearm, in a rude, angry, or threatening
manner, or who in any manner, unlawfully uses a deadly armament other
than a firearm in any fight or quarrel is guilty of a misdemeanor,
punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 30

Read the entire code here

What is a deadly weapon in California?

A deadly armament can be anything from a firearm to a baseball bat or even a bottle and is defined as “any object, instrument, or armament that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.”

In order to convict you of CPC 417, the prosecution must prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.    You possessed a deadly armament as defined by law, and

2.    You drew or exhibited the armament in a rude, angry or threatening manner in front of someone else, or

3.    You actually used the weapon unlawfully in a quarrel or fight with someone, and

4.    You were not acting in self defense or in the defense of someone else

Sentencing and punishment for a convicted CPC 417

Under California Penal Code 417, brandishing a deadly armament other than a firearm is a misdemeanor punishable by at least 30 days and up to one year in the county jail. However, there are several circumstances that can increase your sentence beyond this range.  They include:

  • Brandishing an unloaded firearm (CPC 417(a)(2)(A))

  • Brandishing a loaded firearm (CPC 417(b); CPC 417.3)

  • Brandishing a armament or firearm causing serious bodily injury (CPC 417.6(a))

  • Brandishing a firearm in the presence of a peace officer (CPC 417(c))

  • Brandishing a firearm with intent to resist arrest (CPC 417.8)

What is the law against dangerous weapons in San Diego?

California’s law against manufacturing, selling or possessing dangerous weapons, is found in California Penal Code 12020. This California firearm law actually prohibits two distinct crimes.

The first crime is engaging in any of these activities (manufacturing, selling or possessing) with specific firearms or other “inherently dangerous” weapons.  The specific guns and weapons banned by this offense are listed under Penal Code 12020(a)(1) and PC 12020(a)(2).  Examples include: “nunchucks”, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and metal “brass” knuckles.

CPC 12020 (a) Any person in this state who does any of the following
is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year
or in the state prison:
  (1) Manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the
state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives,
lends, or possesses any cane gun or wallet gun, any undetectable
firearm, any firearm which is not immediately recognizable as a
firearm, any camouflaging firearm container, any ammunition which
contains or consists of any flechette dart, any bullet containing or
carrying an explosive agent, any ballistic knife, any multiburst
trigger activator, any nunchaku, any short-barreled shotgun, any
short-barreled rifle, any metal knuckles, any belt buckle knife, any
leaded cane, any zip gun, any shuriken, any unconventional pistol,
any lipstick case knife, any cane sword, any shobi-zue, any air gauge
knife, any writing pen knife, any metal military practice
handgrenade or metal replica handgrenade, or any instrument or weapon
of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy,
sandclub, sap, or sandbag.

In order to convict you of unlawfully manufacturing, selling, and/or possessing illegal weapons under Penal Code 12020(a)(1) or Penal Code 12020(a)(2) PC, the prosecutor must prove that you

  • manufactured,

  • imported,

  • sold,

  • gave,

  • lent, and/or,

  • possessed the weapons,

and  that you knowingly did so, either because you knew the object was capable of being used as a weapon, or was a weapon.

The second crime is found in Penal Code 12020(a)(3) and PC 12020(a)(4) carrying concealed dirks, daggers, or explosive substances. “Dirks” and “daggers” are terms that are used interchangeably. California law defines a dirk or dagger as a knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death. In addition, a dirk or knife can also be a non locking folding knife, a folding knife, or a pocketknife that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death only if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.

 What are the elements of “carrying a concealed dirk or dagger”?

To sustain the offense of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in California, the prosecution must prove that:

  • you carried on your person a dirk or dagger;
  • the dirk or knife was substantially concealed;
  • you knew that you were carrying it; and
  • you knew that it could readily be used as a stabbing weapon.

The sentencing and punishment for brandishing a deadly weapon, dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in California can be severe, and you will need an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to guide you through this critical legal process.  If you or someone you care about has been arrested on a weapons charge, call the Law Office of Elliott N. Kanter today or submit our secure online case review form for a prompt reply.  We are here to help you.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Recent Posts