It is generally legal in California for you to purchase, possess or carry a stun gun or taser for lawful self-defense. That said, under Penal Code § 22610 PC, you are prohibited from having a taser if you are
- a convicted felon,
- a narcotics addict,
- a minor, or if
- you have a prior conviction for assault or misuse of a stun gun.
The term “stun gun” is often used interchangeably with the term “tasers.”
The language of the code section states that:
22610. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person may purchase, possess, or use a stun gun, subject to the following requirements:
(a) No person convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any other state, government, or country, or convicted of misuse of a stun gun under Section 244.5, shall purchase, possess, or use any stun gun.
(b) No person addicted to any narcotic drug shall purchase, possess, or use a stun gun.
(c) (1) No person shall sell or furnish any stun gun to a minor unless the minor is at least 16 years of age and has the written consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
(2) Violation of this subdivision shall be a public offense punishable by a fifty-dollar ($50) fine for the first offense. Any subsequent violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor.
(d) No minor shall possess any stun gun unless the minor is at least 16 years of age and has the written consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
Examples of illegal acts:
- Tom, convicted of felony grand theft (per Penal Code 487) 10 years ago, buys a stun gun online.
- Dominique, even though convicted in the past with assault with a deadly weapon, per Penal Code 245a1, uses a friend’s stun gun.
- Nia owns a firearms store and sells a stun gun to a 15-year boy, who doesn’t have the consent of his parents to buy the gun.
Luckily, there are several legal defenses that you can raise if charged with a stun gun crime. These include showing that you:
- have no prior convictions,
- did not have possession, and/or
- were the victim of an illegal search or seizure
A first-time violation is charged as an infraction and you must pay a $50 fine.
- imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.
Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award you with misdemeanor (or summary probation).
Our criminal defense attorneys will explain the following about taser laws and stun gun laws in California
- 1. Are stun guns legal in California?
- 2. Are there common legal defenses?
- 3. What are the penalties for a Penal Code 22610 conviction?
- 4. Are there places where stun guns are not allowed?
- 5. Can you conceal carry a taser gun in California?
- 6. What is the difference between a taser and a stun gun?
- 7. Related offenses
1. Are stun guns legal in California?
Yes. It is legal in California for most people to own and possess a stun gun. Penal Code 22610 PC states that you may purchase, possess, or use a stun gun except if you:
- are a convicted felon,
- were found guilty of a crime involving assault,
- were convicted of misuse of a stun gun,
- are addicted to narcotics, or
- are a minor under the age of 16.
Note that a minor at least 16 years of age may purchase and use a stun gun, but only if the minor has the written consent of a parent. And it is a crime to sell a stun gun to a minor at least 16 years of age, unless that minor has the written consent of a parent.1
Also note that it is illegal in California to assault others with a stun gun or taser (unless it is in lawful self-defense). As a wobbler, assaulting another person can be either a:
- misdemeanor carrying up to $1,000 and/or 1 year in jail, or
- felony carrying a jail sentence of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years, and a possible $10,000 fine.
If the target was a school employee, on-duty police officer or a firefighter, the penalties are increased.2
2. Are there common legal defenses?
If you are accused of unlawfully buying, using, or possessing a stun gun, then you can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a criminal charge reduced or even dismissed.
Three common defenses to PC 22610 accusations are:
- no past convictions,
- no possession, and/or
- illegal search and seizure.
2.1. No past convictions
Note that stun gun use, possession and purchasing is a crime under this statute for those convicted of:
- a felony,
- a crime involving assault, and
- the misuse of a stun gun.
So if you can show you have no prior conviction for any of these crimes, then the stun gun charge should be dismissed.
2.2. No possession
Penal Code 22610 makes it illegal for some people to possess a stun gun. Therefore, you can challenge this accusation by showing you did not have actual possession of a stun gun. For example, perhaps the gun was not yours and it was not on your person or within your control.
2.3. Illegal search and seizure
Law enforcement must stay within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment when conducting searches. If police officers overstepped their bounds by failing to get a search warrant when necessary – or by seizing evidence outside the scope of the search warrant – then the illegally-obtained evidence can be suppressed as evidence.
3. What are the penalties for a Penal Code 22610 conviction?
A first-time violation of PC 22610 is charged as an infraction and you must pay a $50 fine.3
Any subsequent violation is charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.4
Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award you misdemeanor (or summary probation).
4. Are there places where stun guns are not allowed?
Yes. Depending on the location, it is usually a misdemeanor offense to have a stun gun (or taser) at a:
- government building,
- state building,
- a meeting that the law requires is open to the general public (no matter the venue),
- school property,
- airports past the TSA checkpoints, and
- secured passenger terminals in port or harbor facilities.
Misdemeanors carry a maximum punishment of one year in jail and/or $1,000 fines.5
5. Can you conceal carry a taser gun in California?
Since tasers and stun guns are not firearms, you are permitted to conceal carry them without a permit in California.
6. What is the difference between a taser and a stun gun?
Stun guns deliver an infliction of an electrical charge shock through direct contact. In contrast, tasers shoot electrified darts at a distance.
But both stun guns and tasers have the same effect: Temporarily paralyzing the neuromuscular system of the target in order to immobile them. When used correctly, they can be very effective defensive weapons that increase personal safety.
7. Related Offenses
There are three laws related to stun guns. These are:
- California’s BB gun laws
- imitation firearms – PC 12556, and
- brass knuckles – PC 21810.
7.1. California’s BB gun laws
There are several important California laws regarding BB guns. These laws include:
- it is generally legal for you to own a BB gun in California. However, it is illegal for you to own a BB gun if you are 18 years of age or younger without parental permission.
- under California Penal Code 12556, it is against the law to display an “imitation firearm” in a public place. A BB gun falls into the definition of an imitation firearm.
- you can generally carry most types of BB guns in your car.
A violation of the above laws is typically punishable by a fine. Sometimes, however, a violation can lead to misdemeanor charges.
7.2. Imitation firearms – PC 12556
Penal Code 12556 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to display an “imitation firearm” in public.
An “imitation firearm” includes objects like a:
- BB gun,
- toy gun, and
- replica of a firearm.6
Violating PC 12556 is charged as an infraction.7 A first offense is punishable by a $100 fine; and, a second offense is punishable by a $300 fine.8
A third or subsequent violation of this section is punishable as a misdemeanor.9
7.3. Brass knuckles – PC 21810
Penal Code 21810 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to make, import, sell, give, or possess metal knuckles, or brass knuckles.
A violation of PC 21810 is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In either case, the crime is punishable by:
- substantial jail time, and/or
- a significant fine.
- California Penal Code 22610 PC. See California Penal Code 17230. See California Penal Code 16780. See, for example, People v. Racy (
- California Penal Code 244.5. California Penal Code 245.5.
- See same. See also Penal Code 19 PC.
- California Penal Code 22620. California Penal Code 171b. California Penal Code 626.10.
- California Penal Code 22610 (c)2 PC. See, for example, In re. M.S. (
- California Penal Code 12556 PC.
- Penal Code 12556(b) PC.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 12556(c) PC.