If you have recently been charged with shooting at an unoccupied vehicle or building, then you could be hoping to learn more about the law and about what you are facing. It is completely understandable if you are nervous, but learning a little more about what the law says and about what you are facing can help you when you’re in this tough situation. Additionally, hiring a criminal defense attorney can allow you to learn more about what to expect in your specific case and can help you get the defense that you need.
Shooting at an Unoccupied Vehicle or Building
When many people think about charges that are related to shooting at houses, buildings or vehicles, they often think about California’s Penal Code Section 246 PC. This addresses shooting at an inhabited building or a car that is currently occupied. Obviously, these things can put others in serious danger and are therefore illegal in the State of California.
What some people don’t realize, however, is that the California Penal Code also addresses shooting at unoccupied vehicles or uninhabited buildings in Section 247(b) PC. Even if no one is in danger because of the use of the firearm because the vehicle or building is not occupied at the time of the shooting, those who are suspected of committing this crime can face serious felony charges.
In order to convict you of this crime, the attorney who is working for the prosecution must prove that you illegally discharged a firearm and that you were shooting at a home, commercial building, car or other building or vehicle.
There are a few different types of scenarios in which people can find themselves facing these charges. For example, someone who has just purchased a firearm that they want to test out or who may have been itching to discharge their firearm might head to an abandoned house that they know has not had any occupants in a long time. Even though it might not seem like a big deal to shoot at an abandoned house that no one is living in and that may already show signs of damage, this is against the law in California.
In a situation in which someone might be hoping to get “revenge” on someone but doesn’t want to actually harm the person, that individual might decide to take a firearm and shoot out the windows of their car or the windows of their house. Again, this is a crime in the State of California.
Luckily, there are various defenses that can be used with this type of case. For one thing, if you were just handling your firearm but did not mean for it to discharge, then you cannot be convicted of the crime. For example, if you were in the woods hunting but something went wrong with your gun and resulted in you shooting an abandoned cabin or someone’s unoccupied vehicle, your lawyer could argue that you did not mean to discharge the gun.
Another possible defense is if you had permission to shoot at the building or car by the owner of the property. If this is the case, your lawyer can help you by talking to the individual who owns the property and providing proof to the court that you did have permission to discharge your weapon.
If you are facing these charges, you could be wondering what type of penalties you could be facing. Of course, this depends on various factors. For one thing, this is a crime that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. This may depend on factors like your criminal record and the actual details of the situation.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could ultimately face up to one year in jail. Even if you aren’t sentenced to jail time, you could face probation. For a felony conviction, however, you could be sentenced to as many as three years in prison.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged
If you have been charged with shooting at an unoccupied vehicle or building, it’s important to take the matter seriously. As you read above, there are serious penalties that you have to worry about if you are convicted of this crime. Luckily, there are possible defenses that can help your case, but defending yourself in court is not recommended.
Instead, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who has helped people fight charges like this. Then, you ensure that you have someone who is experienced and who knows the law helping you with your case. This can help you ensure that you get the best possible outcome and the minimum possible penalty for this charge.