Many California illegal weapons charges, such as Penal Code 12020 PC, California's law against possessing dangerous weapons, stem from police investigations that have little or nothing to do with weapons. This is because many firearms and other weapons are discovered during searches that are incident to lawful…and sometimes unlawful…arrests.
When the police stop people for the California crime of DUI or other traffic violations, they typically scan the car, looking for any evidence of contraband…drug paraphernalia, weapons, alcohol, etc. If they ultimately let the individual go, that's usually the extent of the “search”. But if the cops arrest the individual or detain the individual based on a “reasonable suspicion” that the suspect is or was engaged in criminal activity, they might conduct a full blown search of the car and its contents.
If the cops find an illegal weapon under either scenario, they will likely arrest you for violating one of California's many gun or weapons laws. Penal Code 12020 PC, California's law against possessing dangerous weapons is one of the broadest of these laws, making it illegal to possess a weapon or an instrument that is capable of being used as a weapon.
So when this type of situation presents itself, you and your California criminal defense lawyer must ask two questions: 1) was the weapon you possessed illegal, and 2) was it discovered during a legal search and seizure? If either of these answers is no, it is very likely that your weapons charges…and possibly any additional charges…will be dismissed. (Read our article, California's Many Gun Laws.)