Penal Code 30605 PC - Possession of an Assault Weapon

Penal Code 30605 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to possess any assault weapon.

In particular, the statute states:

“Any person who, within this state, possesses any assault weapon, except as provided in this chapter, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.”

Note that PC 30605 is just one of California's laws on assault weapons. Another is Penal Code 30600, which applies to assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles.

Examples of illegal acts under PC 30605 are:

  • Mark carries an assault weapon in a backpack while going on a hike.
  • Juanita stores her boyfriend's assault weapons in her apartment.
  • Jose puts a few of his assault weapons in his car before driving to a friend's house.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a defendant can raise if accused under Penal Code 30605. These include showing that the defendant:

  • is exempted from prosecution,
  • did not “possess” a weapon, and/or
  • was arrested after an unlawful search and seizure.

Penalties

A violation of Penal Code 30605 is a wobbler offense in California. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.

If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to three years.

Note that in limited circumstances, a PC 30605 violation can be charged as an infraction with a penalty of a $500 fine.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

large capacity magazine
Penal Code 30605 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to possess any assault weapon.

1. What is the legal definition of possessing an assault weapon under Penal Code 30605?

Penal Code 30605 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to possess any assault weapon.1

California law defines "possession" as having control of an item. There are two types of possession under California criminal law. These are:

  1. actual possession, and
  2. constructive possession.2

"Actual possession" means that a person has direct, physical control over a weapon (e.g., he has it on his body or in a bag he's carrying).

"Constructive possession" means that a person has access to the weapon or the right to control it (e.g., it is in his car or home).

Note that Penal Code 30515 PC lists many different types of types of rifles, pistols, and shotguns that are all classified as “assault weapons.” Some examples include:

  • a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds,
  • a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches, and
  • any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.3

2. Are there legal defenses to PC 30605 violations?

A person can try to challenge a PC 30605 accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense may work to reduce or even dismiss a charge.

Three common defenses to Penal Code 30605 charges include:

  1. Exempt from prosecution
  2. No possession, and/or
  3. Unlawful search and seizure.

2.1. Exempt from prosecution

Please note that some persons are free from being prosecuted under PC 30605, meaning they cannot be charged with possession of an assault weapon. Some of these people include:

  • a person holding a valid permit to possess an assault weapon specifically (as opposed to a concealed firearms permit, which does not cover assault weapons), and
  • the executor or administrator of an estate that lawfully holds such firearms.

It is a valid defense, therefore, for an accused to show that he falls into such a category and is thereby free from being charged.

2.2. No possession

Please recall that a person must actually “possess” an assault weapon in order to be charged with a crime, meaning he must have control over it. This means an accused can raise a legal defense by showing that he had not control over the weapon (e.g., it was in a neighbor's home to which he had no access to).

2.3. Unlawful search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that we have the right to be free from unreasonable “searches and seizures” by law enforcement. If authorities obtain evidence from an unreasonable, or unlawful search and seizure, then that evidence can get excluded from a criminal case. This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

man being led to prison cell
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or jail time

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of Penal Code 30605 is a wobbler offense in California. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.4

If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to:

  • 16 months,
  • two years, or
  • three years.5

Note that in limited circumstances, a PC 30605 violation can be charged as an infraction with a penalty of a $500 fine.6

4. Related offenses

There are three laws related to possession of an assault weapon. These are:

  1. manufacture of an assault weapon – PC 30600,
  2. possession of destructive devices or explosives – PC 18710, and
  3. possession of destructive device materials – PC 18720.

4.1. Manufacture of an assault weapon – PC 30600

Penal Code 30600 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to manufacture an assault weapon.

PC 30600 prohibits:

  • manufacturing,
  • selling,
  • giving away,
  • lending, and/or
  • possessing

assault weapons and BMG rifles, except in very specific circumstances.7

Charges under Penal Code 30600 vary from serious felonies charges to minor infractions, depending on the facts of a case. Further, the penalties for these offenses can include:

  • imprisonment for several years, and
  • substantial fines.

4.2. Possession of destructive devices or explosives – PC 18710

Penal Code 18710 PC makes it a crime to possess a destructive device.8

Destructive devices include things like:

  • bombs,
  • grenades,
  • explosive missiles,
  • projectiles containing any kind of explosive or incendiary material, and
  • certain rockets and rocket-propelled projectiles.9

Penal Code 18710 PC is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor penalties can include:

  • up to one year in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.10

And if the crime is prosecuted as a felony, an accused can face up to three years in California state prison.11

4.3. Possession of destructive device materials – PC 18720

Possessing the materials necessary to make a destructive device is a serious California crime under Penal Code 18720 PC.12

A violation of PC 18720 is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by:

  • two, three, or four years served in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $10,000.13

4.4 Possession of a .50 BMG rifle – PC 30610

Penal Code 30610 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to possess any .50 BMG rifle (or, fifty-caliber Browning Machine Gun).

A violation of PC 30610 is charged as a misdemeanor in California. The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.14

Please note that in lieu to jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary) probation.

Also note that in limited circumstances, a PC 30610 violation can be charged as an infraction with a penalty of a $500 fine.15

Were you accused of possessing an assault weapon in California? Call us for help…

california gun rights attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Penal Code 30605, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

For similar charges in Nevada, please see our article on “Nevada Laws on “Assault Weapons” & Machine Guns (Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers).”


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 30605 PC. This code section states: “Any person who, within this state, possesses any assault weapon, except as provided in this chapter, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.”

  2. CALCRIM 2560.

  3. California Penal Code 30515 PC.

  4. California Penal Code 19 PC.

  5. California Penal Code 1170h PC.

  6. California Penal Code 30605b PC.

  7. California Penal Code 30600 PC.

  8. Penal Code 18710 PC.

  9. California Penal Code 16460 PC.

  10. California Penal Code 18710 PC.

  11. See same.

  12. California Penal Code 18720 PC.

  13. See same.

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