Penal Code 417.25 PC - Aiming or Pointing a Laser Scope or Pointer

Penal Code 417.25 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to point a laser scope, or a laser pointer, at another person in a threatening manner.

According to this statute:

“(a) Every person who, except in self-defense, aims or points a laser scope, as defined in subdivision (b), or a laser pointer, as defined in subdivision (c), at another person in a threatening manner with the specific intent to cause a reasonable person fear of bodily harm is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 30 days. For purposes of this section, the laser scope need not be attached to a firearm.

(b) As used in this section, “laser scope” means a portable battery-powered device capable of being attached to a firearm and capable of projecting a laser light on objects at a distance.

(c) As used in this section, “laser pointer” means any hand held laser beam device or demonstration laser product that emits a single point of light amplified by the stimulated emission of radiation that is visible to the human eye.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • Tara taunts Jenny and points a laser scope at her chest.
  • Martin pushes his ex-girlfriend while aiming a laser pointer at her head.
  • Tia gets mad at her neighbor, points a laser scope at him, and says she'll “end him.”

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under Penal Code 417.25. These include showing that the defendant:

  • acted in self-defense,
  • did not use a laser scope/pointer, and/or
  • gave a coerced confession.

Penalties

A violation of PC 417.25 is charged as a misdemeanor in California (as opposed to a felony or an infraction).

The crime is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to 30 days.

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

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

man pointing laser pointer
Penal Code 417.25 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to point a laser scope, or a laser pointer, at another person in a threatening manner

1. What is prohibited under California Penal Code 417.25?

Penal Code 417.25 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to point a laser scope, or a laser pointer, at another person in a threatening manner.1

Note that this “threatening manner,” for a person to be guilty under PC 417.25, must cause a reasonable person fear of bodily harm.2

A “laser scope” is a portable battery-powered device that can be attached to a gun and can project a laser light onto objects.3

A “laser pointer” is a hand-held laser beam device that emits a single point of light, which can be seen by the human eye.4

2. Are there legal defenses to PC 417.25 accusations?

If a person is accused of aiming a laser scope or pointer, then he can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three common defenses to PC 417.25 accusations are:

  1. self-defense
  2. no laser scope/pointer and/or
  3. coerced confession

2.1. Self-defense

The language within Penal Code 417.25 states that it is okay to point a laser scope or pointer at another person, even in a threatening manner, in self-defense. This is an exception to the law. Therefore, a defendant can always try to show that he is innocent under this statute because he was acting in self-defense.

2.2. No laser scope/pointer

Note that this code section only applies to laser scopes and laser pointers. It does pertain to any other objects. This means that it is a valid legal defense for an accused to show that while he was aiming an object at a person, it was not a laser scope/pointer. For example, maybe it was just a pen.

2.3. Coerced confession

California law states that police may not use overbearing measures to coerce a confession.

If a party can show that the police coerced him into a confession, then:

  1. the judge may exclude the confession from evidence; or,
  2. the case could get dropped altogether if the party got pressured into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
woman behind bars
A violation of this law can result in jail time

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of PC 417.25 is charged as a misdemeanor in California.

The crime is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to 30 days.

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

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to aiming a laser scope/pointer. These are:

  1. shining a light at an aircraft to interfere with operations – PC 248,
  2. malicious discharge of a laser at an occupied aircraft – 247.5, and
  3. possession of a silencer – PC 33410.

4.1. Shining a light at an aircraft to interfere with operations – PC 248

Penal Code 248 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to shine a light at an aircraft in order to interfere with its operation.5

A violation of PC 248 is 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 $1,000.6

4.2. Malicious discharge of a laser at an occupied aircraft – PC 247.5

Penal Code 247.5 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to maliciously discharge a laser (e.g., a handheld laser pointer) at an occupied aircraft.7

A violation of PC 247.5 is a wobbler offense under California law.8 This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on:

  • the facts of the case, and
  • the defendant's criminal history.

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

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.9

If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for 16 months, two years, or three years, and/or
  • a fine of up to $2,000.10

4.3. Possession of a silencer – PC 33410

Penal Code 33410 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to possess a silencer.11

A “silencer” is a device that reduces the sound of a gun when it is fired.

A violation of PC 33410 is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to three years, and/or
  • a fine of up to $10,000.12

Were you accused of aiming a laser scope at another person in California? Call us for help…

laser pointer attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under California Penal Code 417.25 PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 417.25 PC. This code section states: “(a) Every person who, except in self-defense, aims or points a laser scope, as defined in subdivision (b), or a laser pointer, as defined in subdivision (c), at another person in a threatening manner with the specific intent to cause a reasonable person fear of bodily harm is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 30 days. For purposes of this section, the laser scope need not be attached to a firearm.

    (b) As used in this section, “laser scope” means a portable battery-powered device capable of being attached to a firearm and capable of projecting a laser light on objects at a distance.

    (c) As used in this section, “laser pointer” means any hand held laser beam device or demonstration laser product that emits a single point of light amplified by the stimulated emission of radiation that is visible to the human eye.

  2. See same.

  3. See same.

  4. See same.

  5. California Penal Code 248 PC.

  6. See same.

  7. California Penal Code 247.5 PC.

  8. See same.

  9. See same.

  10. California Penal Code 1170h PC.

  11. California Penal Code 33410 PC.

  12. See same. See also California Penal Code 1170h PC.

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