Brandishing a weapon in the State of California is considered a serious offense. Brandishing a weapon under the California Penal Code 417 PC is defined as displaying a weapon or firearm in the presence of another person in a rude, angry or otherwise threatening way or did so during a fight or argument and you were not acting in self-defense or the self-defense of another person at the time.
A deadly weapon in California is defined as any object or instrument that can be used in a way that is capable or likely of inflicting great bodily injury or death upon another person. The weapon displayed can be a gun, knife, heavy object or any other object including writing pens or rocks.
Many people feel afraid or threatened by the mere presence of a gun or knife and some people feel threatened by any object they perceive as a threat to them even though another reasonable person may not find the same object threatening. The act of brandishing must be proven in order to be convicted of brandishing a weapon.
How Can I Be Charged With Brandishing?
In order for the court to find a person guilty of brandishing, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You drew or exhibited a firearm or other deadly weapon in the presence of another person
- You did it in a rude, angry or other threatening manner or you used it during an argument or a fight with another person
- You were not acting in self-defense or the self-defense of another person.
Some people think the mere presence of a firearm or other weapon is brandishing. California law provides that a person may use a weapon in the act of self-defense. If a person is walking along the street and is accosted by one or more others in order that they might steal his possessions or inflict injury upon him, and the person draws a gun causing the person or persons to run away, that is not considered brandishing but an act of self-defense.
Examples of actual brandishing include such acts as:
- Grabbing a knife or a heavy skillet while arguing with a spouse and holding it while looking at them in an angry or threatening way
- You have an argument with your neighbor. Afterward, you show them the gun you own as a means to frighten them
- You break a glass bottle and hold it in front of someone as if it were an object which is being utilized to stab the person
- You lift your shirt or jacket in front of someone exposing a firearm in the waistband of your pants
What Are The Penalties For Brandishing?
The penalties and punishments for brandishing a firearm depend on the unique facts of each individual case, the criminal history of the person charged, and whether there was an injury to a person or persons. Brandishing a weapon at a police officer can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how the prosecution decides to charge the defendant.
- A conviction for brandishing a firearm at a police officer carries a minimum sentence of up to 1 year in the county jail or a maximum of 3-years in a state prison for felony brandishing
- Brandishing a weapon other than a firearm is a misdemeanor which carries a minimum sentence of 30 days to 1 year in county jail
- Brandishing a firearm (pistol or revolver) is a misdemeanor which carries a minimum sentence of 3 months in the county jail or 1 year in county jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000
- Brandishing a loaded firearm in public is a misdemeanor which carries a sentence of 1 year in county jail and no less than 3 months
Do I Have A Defense Against Brandishing?
A defense lawyer can defend you against the charges of brandishing a weapon in many instances including when:
- You neither drew nor exhibited a firearm or weapon in the immediate presence of a person, and it is proven that the person was a significant distance away
- You did not use a weapon in a rude, angry or threatening manner
- You drew or exhibited a weapon strictly in self-defense or the self-defense of another person
- Your accuser has fabricated the charge against you for revenge or other reasons
- The object you are alleged to have displayed was not considered a deadly weapon
- You have been misidentified
- Your Miranda Rights were violated
If you have been accused and charged with brandishing a weapon in Los Angeles, you need to contact an experienced defense lawyer who understands the law and how to successfully defend their clients against these charges.