Penal Code 25610 PC – Conditions on Carrying a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle

Penal Code 25610 PC is the California statute that says a person can legally transport or carry a firearm in a motor vehicle, provided that:

  • the person is over the age of 18,
  • the person resides in California,
  • the person is not prohibited from owning a gun,
  • the gun is unloaded, and
  • the firearm is locked in the vehicle's trunk or in another locked container.

If the above conditions are not met, a person may be charged with carrying a concealed weapon, per PC 25400.

According to PC 25610:

“Section 25400 shall not be construed to prohibit any citizen of the United States over the age of 18 years who resides or is temporarily within this state, and who is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm, from transporting or carrying any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, provided that the following applies to the firearm:

(1) The firearm is within a motor vehicle and it is locked in the vehicle's trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • Paul is 17 years old and drives with his Dad's hunting rifle in the back of his car.
  • Monique puts her handgun in her car's glove box, does not lock it, and drives to her friend's house.
  • Albert puts his revolver under his car seat and drives to a concert.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under Penal Code 25610. These include showing that the defendant:

Penalties

Absent aggravating circumstances, carrying a concealed firearm in violation of Penal Code 25400 is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

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

In some situations, a violation of PC 25400 is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If this happens, the offense could lead to a jail sentence of up to three years.

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

guns laying on top of container

1. What is the law under Penal Code 25610 PC?

Penal Code 25610 PC is the California statute that says a person can legally transport or carry a firearm in a motor vehicle, provided that:

  • the person is over the age of 18,
  • the person resides in California,
  • the person is not prohibited from owning a gun,
  • the gun is unloaded, and
  • the firearm is locked in the vehicle's trunk or in another locked container.1

If the above conditions are not met, a person may be charged with carrying a concealed weapon, under PC 25400.

Note that a person can be charged with this offense even if the firearm is not technically “concealed” in a vehicle. That is, an arrest and conviction can take place even if the police can clearly see the firearm, or its case, by looking into the defendant's car.2

2. Are there legal defenses to PC 25610 accusations?

If a person is accused of a crime under this statute, 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 25610 accusations are:

  1. necessity,
  2. falsely accused, and/or
  3. coerced confession.

2.1. Necessity

Under a necessity defense, a defendant essentially tries to avoid guilt by showing that he had a sufficiently good reason to commit the crime. People sometimes refer to this defense as “guilty with an explanation.” In the context of illegally carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle, an accused could attempt to show that he committed the crime since he had no other choice (e.g., because of an emergency).

2.2. Falsely accused

Unfortunately, it is not at all uncommon for people to get prosecuted based on false allegations. People get falsely accused out of

  • jealousy,
  • revenge, and
  • anger.

Thus, it is a valid defense for a defendant to say that a party falsely accused him of violating Penal Code 25610.

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.
money under a gavel

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

Absent aggravating circumstances, carrying a concealed firearm in violation of Penal Code 25400 is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.3

In some situations, a violation of PC 25400 is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If this happens, the offense could lead to a jail sentence of up to three years.4

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to unlawfully carrying a concealed firearm. These are:

  1. open carry – PC 26350
  2. carrying a concealed weapon – PC 25400, and
  3. carrying a loaded firearm – PC 25850.

4.1. Open carry – PC 26350

Penal Code 26350 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to openly carry a handgun in public.

This law applies no matter if the gun is loaded or unloaded.

Carrying an unloaded handgun in public is a misdemeanor. Most PC 26350 violations are punishable by:

  • up to one year in county jail, or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.5

4.2. Carrying a concealed weapon – PC 25400

Penal Code 25400 PC is California's carrying a concealed weapon law.

The law makes it a crime for a person to carry a concealed firearm on his/her person or in a vehicle.6

Absent aggravating circumstances, carrying a concealed firearm in violation of Penal Code 25400 is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.7

4.3. Carrying a loaded firearm – PC 25850

California Penal Code 25850 PC makes it a crime for a person to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle or public place.

Absent aggravating circumstances, a violation of PC 25850 is a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

Were you accused of unlawfully carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle in California? Call us for help…

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

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime for not following Penal Code 25610 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 25610 PC. This code section states: “(a) Section 25400 shall not be construed to prohibit any citizen of the United States over the age of 18 years who resides or is temporarily within this state, and who is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm, from transporting or carrying any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, provided that the following applies to the firearm:

    (1) The firearm is within a motor vehicle and it is locked in the vehicle's trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle.

    (2) The firearm is carried by the person directly to or from any motor vehicle for any lawful purpose and, while carrying the firearm, the firearm is contained within a locked container.

    (b) The provisions of this section do not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful carrying or transportation of any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person in accordance with the provisions listed in Section 16580.”

  2. People v. Hodges (1999) 70 Cal. App. 4th 1348.

  3. California Penal Code 25400 PC.

  4. See same.

  5. California Penal Code 26350b2 PC.

  6. California Penal Code 25400 PC.

  7. California Penal Code 25400 PC.

  8. California Penal Code 25850c PC.

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