California Penal Code 417 PC makes it illegal to brandish a firearm or deadly weapon in California. You can be charged with violating PC 417 when caught drawing or exhibiting a deadly weapon or firearm, or when using a deadly weapon during a fight.
In order to be charged with violating PC 417, a prosecutor must be able to prove a few key elements of the crime, including
- That the defendant drew or exhibited a firearm or deadly weapon in the presence of someone else
- The person brandished the weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner OR
- The defendant used the weapon in an argument or quarrel, and
- The defendant did not act in self-defense
For the purposes of California Law, a “deadly weapon” is any object or weapon that is inherently deadly. Knives, firearms, baseball bats, golf clubs, hand tools, and other items can all qualify as deadly weapons in California. Interestingly, it isn’t necessary for a weapon to be pointed at someone to be considered “deadly.”
For example, suppose a man and a woman are having an argument in their apartment and the man grabs a knife from the block and points it at the woman. This would fall under the definition of “brandishing a firearm or deadly weapon in the State of California” and could result in charges. Another example includes two men getting into a verbal altercation, and one of the men lifting his shirt to reveal a pistol in his waistband. This can also qualify as “brandishing a firearm” in California even though the suspect wasn’t actually holding the gun.
Most of the time, violations of California Penal Code 417 PC are charged as misdemeanors and punishable by up to 1 year in jail. However, if the defendant brandishes a firearm on the grounds of a daycare center that is currently open for business, the crime can be charged as a felony with the possible penalty of up to 3 years in state prison.