Penal Code 30315 PC – Possession of Armor-Piercing Bullets

Penal Code 30315 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person or company to possess armor-piercing bullets and ammunition. A violation of the law can lead to felony charges punishable by up to three years in county jail.

30315 PC provides that “any person, firm, or corporation who, within this state knowingly possesses any handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor is guilty of a public offense…”.

Examples

  • a business storing “steel jacketed” ammo in its warehouse
  • a woman going to a concert with a handgun and armor-piercing ammo in a backpack
  • two friends stockpiling “steel core” in a shared storage unit

Defenses

A defendant can challenge a charge under this statute with a legal defense. Common defenses include:

  • the defendant had no knowledge of possession,
  • the ammunition was not armor-piercing,
  • the ammunition was not for a handgun, and/or
  • the defendant was arrested after an unlawful search and seizure.

Penalties

A violation of this statute is a wobbler. A prosecutor can charge a wobbler as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by custody in county jail for up to one year.

A felony conviction is punishable by imprisonment in jail for up to three years.

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

armor piercing bullets
Penal Code 30315 PC makes it a crime for a person or company to possess armor-piercing ammunition.

1. Are armor-piercing bullets illegal in California?

Yes. A prosecutor must prove the following to convict a defendant under this statute:

  1. the accused was a person or corporation, and
  2. the party knowingly possessed armor-piercing ammunition for a handgun.1

Armor-piercing” ammunition is designed primarily to penetrate a body vest or body shield.2 These bullets are also referred to as:

  • steel core ammo, or
  • steel jacketed ammunition.

Note that this statute only regulates ammunition for handguns.3 Common handguns include:

  • revolvers, and
  • semi-automatic pistols.
man behind bars talking with attorney
Fortunately, a good attorney can assist you with a strong legal defense.

2. Are there legal defenses?

Defense attorneys use different strategies to defend against charges under PC 30315. These include showing that:

  1. the defendant had no knowledge that he/she possessed this ammunition.
  2. the accused had ammunition, but it was not armor-piercing.
  3. the accused had ammunition, but it was not for a handgun.
  4. the defendant was arrested after an unlawful search and seizure.

2.1. No knowledge

A person is only guilty under these laws if he/she:

  1. possessed armor piercing ammunition, and
  2. did so while knowing of the possession.

This means it is always a defense for an accused to say that he/she did not have this knowledge. Perhaps, for example, someone planted the ammunition in the defendant's bag.

2.2. No armor piercing ammunition

This statute only prohibits armor-piercing ammunition. Therefore, an accused can always raise the defense that the ammo he/she had was not armor-piercing.

2.3. No handgun ammunition

Penal Code 30315 only regulates steel core ammunition for handguns. It does not apply to other firearms, like rifles. A defense, then, is for the accused to say that he/she had ammunition, but it was not handgun ammunition.

2.4. Unlawful search and seizure

Authorities cannot conduct a search or take property without a valid search warrant. If no warrant, then they must have a legal excuse for not having one.

Evidence obtained via an unlawful search/seizure can get excluded from a criminal case.

This means that any charges in the case could get reduced or even dismissed.

3. What are the penalties?

A violation of this statute is a wobbler. A wobbler is an offense that the prosecutor can charge as either:

  • a misdemeanor, or
  • a felony.

Misdemeanor charges are punishable by:

  • custody in the county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $5,000.4

Felony charges are punishable by:

  • custody in county jail (as opposed to state prison) for up to three years, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $5,000.5
ice immigration symbol
A conviction under these laws may have negative immigration consequences.

4. Are there immigration consequences?

A conviction under these laws may have negative immigration consequences.

California law says that aggravated felonies can result in a non-citizen defendant being:

The facts of a case determine whether or not a felony is “aggravated,” with severe facts causing aggravation.

This means a PC 30315 violation will have negative immigration results if it amounts to an aggravated felony.

5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?

A person can get a conviction expunged.

This is provided that the accused successfully completes his/her:

  1. jail term, or
  2. probation (whichever was imposed).

6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?

A misdemeanor conviction under these laws will not affect a person's gun rights.

Felony convictions, though, will cause a defendant to lose his/her rights to:

  • buy a gun,
  • own a gun, and
  • possess a gun.

California law says that convicted felons must give up their gun rights.

7. Are there related offenses?

There are three crimes related to possessing armor-piercing ammunition. These are:

  1. California's law re: assault weapons and rifles – PC 30600,
  2. possession of an assault weapon – PC 30605, and
  3. possession of a .50 BMG rifle – PC 30610.

7.1. Laws re: assault weapons and rifles in California – PC 30600

Penal Code 30600 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to:

  1. make or sell a weapon, and
  2. do so when that weapon is an assault weapon.

7.2. Possession of an assault weapon – PC 30605

Penal Code 30605 PC makes it a crime for a person to possess an assault weapon.

Like with PC 30315, a violation of this law is a wobbler offense.

7.3. Possession of a .50 BMG rifle – 30610

Penal Code 30610 PC makes it a crime for a person to possess any .50 BMG rifle.

A .50 BMG rifle is also known as a fifty-caliber Browning Machine Gun. These guns are powerful enough to be used against lightly armored vehicles, including boats and low-flying airplanes.

For additional help...

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For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

For similar laws in Nevada, please see our article on Ammunition Laws in Nevada (NRS 202.273).

Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 30315 PC.

  2. California Penal Code 16660.

  3. Penal Code 30315.

  4. See same.

  5. See same. See also Penal Code 1170h PC.

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