Definition and Aspects of Discharging a Firearm:
Discharging a Firearm (PC 246), or Shooting in an Inhabited Dwelling, is referring to the action of firing shots within an occupied building, motor vehicle, aircraft, or regular car. California Penal Code 246 (PC 246) is a felony offense, and if convicted, it can result in severe fines and time spent in prison.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 246 (PC 246), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant maliciously and willfully shot a firearm
- The location was either:
- An inhabited house, car, or camper
- An occupied motor vehicle, building, or aircraft
- The Defendant did not act in self-defense
For the purposes of California Penal Code 246 (PC 246), it does not matter if the location is currently empty or in use. If the building or vehicle is inhabited, this statute applies. The word ‘inhabited’ is referring to someone using the location as a dwelling.
The action of maliciously and willfully shooting a weapon refers to intentionally committing the act. The Defendant had to have been aware of the firearm and had to be in sound mind to realize the location he/she is when he/she purposefully fired the weapon. This means that accidental shootings do not fall under this statute.
Criminal Offenses Related to Discharging a Firearm:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 246 (PC 246), Discharging a Firearm:
- Negligent Discharge of a Firearm – California Penal Code 246.3 (PC 246.3)
- Assault with a Firearm – California Penal Code 245(a)(2) (PC 245(a)(2))
- Felon in Possession of a Firearm – California Penal Code 29800 (PC 29800)
Examples of Discharging a Firearm:
A man goes camping in an RV with a friend. One night, he pulls his shotgun out and fires a couple of shots into the RV from outside while his friend is standing next to him. While the man was aware his friend wouldn’t be hurt, he still shot into an inhabited RV and could be charged with California Penal Code 246 (PC 246).
A woman is frustrated that her above neighbors are making noise late into the night. As a result, she takes out her gun and fires it into the ceiling. The bullet makes it into the neighbors’ home but harms no one. Under California Penal Code 246 (PC 246), the woman is guilty of Discharging a Firearm into an inhabited dwelling.
Defenses for Discharging a Firearm:
One of the most common defenses for Discharging a Firearm (PC 246) is claiming self-defense. If the Defendant fired a shot in an inhabited dwelling but did it out of defending himself/herself from great bodily harm, the statute would not apply. However, for this defense to be effective, it has to be established that the Defendant used reasonable actions and no more force than necessary.
California Penal Code 246 (PC 246) also requires the actions to be willful and out of malicious intent. If the Defendant accidentally fired a shot, he/she would not be in violation of this statute.
There are also cases of mistaken identities, where the Defendant was confused with another person and therefore wrongfully accused. In this scenario, an experienced Defense attorney could be of great help to aid the Defendant in proving his/her innocence and get the case dismissed.
Lastly, the burden is on the Prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has willfully committed the offense. If there’s insufficient evidence, the case could be dropped.
Consequences and Penalty for Discharging a Firearm:
California Penal Code 246 (PC 246) is a felony offense. If convicted, the Defendant could be facing felony probation, six months – 1 year in county jail, or 3-7 years in a California state prison. He/she could also be responsible for fines up to $10,000. Given that Discharging a Firearm (PC 246) is a weapon-related offense, a conviction could also result in the Defendant losing his/her gun rights.
Additional enhancement could apply if the Defendant put someone in the proximity of great bodily injury or if the crime was gang-related.
Lastly, Discharging a Firearm (PC 246) is a strike offense under California’s Three Strike Law. This means that any other future felony convictions would result in twice the normal sentencing for that specific offense. If the Defendant accumulates three strikes, he/she will face 25-years-to-life in state prison.
Under California Penal Code 246 (PC 246), discharging a firearm is a felony offense resulting in jail or prison time and severe fines. You must contact an expert attorney as soon as possible if you or someone you know is charged with Discharging a Firearm.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of firearm and weapon-related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 246 (PC 246), Discharging a Firearm. Book a free consultation today.