PC 12022 - Being Armed with a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony

PC 12022 is the California statute that imposes certain firearm sentencing enhancements. The law says a defendant will face enhanced prison time for felony crimes, if during the commission of the crime, either:

  1. the defendant was armed with a firearm, or
  2. the defendant used a dangerous or deadly weapon.

The enhancements under PC 12022 subject a defendant to a number of years in California state prison. This time period is in addition and consecutive to the punishment that the accused receives for the underlying felony offense.

According to PC 12022:

  • a person who is armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony, or in an attempted felony, will be punished by an additional and consecutive prison term of one year.
  • a defendant who, in the commission of a felony, is armed with an assault weapon, a machine gun, or a .50 BMG rifle will be punished by an additional and consecutive prison term of three years.
  • an accused who personally uses a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony will be punished by an additional and consecutive prison term of one year.
  • a defendant that uses a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony carjacking will be punished by an additional and consecutive prison term of one, two, or three years.
  • a person who, in the commission of certain felony drug offenses, is armed with a firearm, will be punished by an additional and consecutive prison term of three, four, or five years.

Examples of when enhanced sentences will be applied under this code section include:

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise to challenge enhanced penalties under this statute. These include showing that the defendant:

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

man pointing gun
The enhancements under PC 12022 subject a defendant to a number of years in California state prison.

1. What is the law under Penal Code 12022?

Penal Code 12022 PC is the California statute that says a defendant will face enhanced prison time for felony crimes, if during the commission of the crime, either:

  1. the defendant was armed with a firearm, or
  2. the defendant used a dangerous or deadly weapon.1

A “dangerous or deadly weapon” for purposes of this section is a weapon other than a firearm.

Note that Penal Code 12022 punishes the possession of a firearm. The use of a firearm during the commission of a felony is punished by a different California statute.

The enhancements under this statute subject a defendant to a number of years in California state prison. This time period is in addition and consecutive to the punishment that the accused receives for the underlying felony offense.

2. What is the basic enhancement for possession of a firearm under PC 12022?

The basic enhancement, per this statute, is an additional one year in prison for a defendant being armed with a firearm during the commission of a felony.

This additional time may change if the defendant either:

  • committed a felony while possessing an assault weapon, or
  • committed a certain drug offense.

2.1. Possession of an assault weapon

If a defendant commits a felony, while armed with a firearm, and the firearm was:

  • an assault weapon,
  • a machine gun, or
  • a .50 BMG rifle,

the accused faces not an additional one year in prison, but an additional and consecutive three years in prison.2

2.2. Drug offense

Certain felony California drug offenses carry an increased enhancement under Penal Code 12022. These offenses include (but are not limited to) violations of:

If a defendant was personally armed with a gun during the commission of one these offenses, he may face an additional and consecutive prison term of:

  • three,
  • four, or
  • five years.3

If a defendant did not personally carry a firearm, but he knew that another principal was armed with a gun, then the enhancement will be an additional and consecutive prison term of:

  • one,
  • two, or
  • three years.4
man being led in prison

3. What are the enhancements for use of a deadly weapon under PC 12022?

Penal Code 12022b says that if a defendant uses a deadly or dangerous weapon during the commission of a felony, then he will face an additional and consecutive one year in prison.5

If a defendant used a deadly or dangerous weapon in a felony carjacking, per PC 215, then the enhancement will be an additional and consecutive prison term of:

  • one,
  • two, or
  • three years.6

4. Are there legal defenses to challenge PC 12022 charges?

If a person is accused of violating PC 12022, 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 accusations under this code section are:

  1. no felony,
  2. coerced confession, and/or
  3. no probable cause.

4.1. No felony

PC 12022 only applies if a defendant committed a felony. It is always a defense, therefore, for an accused to show that there was no underlying felony offense. For example, maybe the defendant committed a California misdemeanor or an infraction.

4.2. 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:

  • the judge may exclude the confession from evidence, or
  • the case could get dropped altogether if the party got pressured into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.

4.3. No probable cause

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest a suspect of a crime.

If a person was arrested for violating PC 12022, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

5. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to possessing a gun during the commission of a felony. These are:

  1. possessing ammunition designed to penetrate metal or armor – PC 12022.2,
  2. personally using firearms during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.5, and
  3. furnishing with a firearm during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.4.

5.1. Possessing ammunition designed to penetrate metal or armor – PC 12022.2

California Penal Code 12022.2 creates a sentencing enhancement of between one to ten years for anyone who:

  • commits a felony while armed with a firearm and in immediate possession of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor, or
  • wears a body vest during the commission of a violent felony.7

5.2. Personally using firearms during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.5

California Penal Code 12022.5 creates a sentencing enhancement of between three to ten years for defendants that personally use a firearm during the commission or attempted commission of a felony.8

5.3. Furnishing with a firearm during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.4

Penal Code 12022.4 PC makes it a crime to furnish, or attempt to furnish, a firearm to someone else for use in a felony.9

Punishment under this enhancement is an additional term of one, two, or three years in prison.10

Were you accused of being armed with a firearm during the commission of a felony in California? Call us for help…

criminal defense attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 12022 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 12022 PC. This code section states: “(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (c) and (d), a person who is armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for one year…

    (2) Except as provided in subdivision (c), and notwithstanding subdivision (d), if the firearm is an assault weapon…or a machinegun…or a .50 BMG rifle…the additional and consecutive term described in this subdivision shall be three years imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170…

    (b) (1) A person who personally uses a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for one year, unless use of a deadly or dangerous weapon is an element of that offense.

    (2) If the person described in paragraph (1) has been convicted of carjacking or attempted carjacking, the additional term shall be in the state prison for one, two, or three years…

    (c) Notwithstanding the enhancement set forth in subdivision (a), a person who is personally armed with a firearm in the commission of a violation or attempted violation of Section 11351, 11351.5, 11352, 11366.5, 11366.6, 11378, 11378.5, 11379, 11379.5, or 11379.6 of the Health and Safety Code shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for three, four, or five years.”

  2. California Penal Code 12022a2 PC.

  3. California Penal Code 12022c PC.

  4. California Penal Code 12022d PC.

  5. California Penal Code 12022b1 PC.

  6. California Penal Code 12022b2 PC.

  7. California Penal Code 12022.2 PC.

  8. California Penal Code 12022.5 PC.

  9. California Penal Code 12022.4 PC.

  10. See same.

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