Los Angeles California Gun-Free School Zone Act
Understanding The California Gun Free School Zone Act
The safety of students in and around schools in California is of paramount importance, hence the enactment of the California Gun Free School Zone Act, also known as Penal Code 626.9 PC, in 1995. This act prohibits individuals from knowingly carrying or discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school zone, be it a private or public school. In this article, we will take a detailed look at the most important elements that you need to understand about this act to avoid being found on the wrong side of the law, and suffering the attendant consequences.
What is A School Zone?
According to the Los Angeles California Gun Free School Zone Act, a school zone refers to an area within or on the grounds of a private or public school that offers instructions in kindergarten or grades 1 – 12, and within a distance of 1,000 feet from the school’s ground. However, it is important to note that the school zone does not include residential places, business premises, or private property that is not part of the school ground, and firearm possession is otherwise lawful.
Consequences of Violating Penal Code 626.9
The violation of the California Gun Free School Zone Act comes with severe consequences. If you are convicted of illegally possessing a firearm on school grounds in contravention of the act, you will face a jail term of up to five years. Similarly, if you are found guilty of violating the act by possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school, but not on the school grounds, you will also face up to five years in prison if:
– You have any prior felony conviction.
– You are prohibited from carrying a weapon due to specific past offenses, such as narcotics possession charges.
– The court deems you unfit to possess a weapon due to mental disorder or defect.
– You are prohibited from carrying a firearm as a conditional sentence.
– You are carrying a concealed firearm in a car, and either the weapon is loaded or not in a locked container.
It is also essential to note that although universities and colleges are beyond the scope of a school zone definition, possessing a firearm within these precincts can still subject you to prosecution under Penal Code 626.9 PC.
Are There Exceptions to The Act?
Despite the restrictions of the California Gun Free School Zone Act, several provisions exist in the law to ensure that law-abiding firearm owners are not unfairly penalized under the law. The law does not apply to merely possessing a weapon under the following circumstances:
– You possess the weapon legally on private or business property, i.e. it is registered, even if it is within 1,000 feet from a school.
– You have written authorization by the school district.
– You are carrying a concealed weapon, which is either unloaded or in a locked container in your car.
– You reasonably fear that your life is in grave danger, according to California’s self-defense laws. However, it is crucial to note that this exemption does not apply if you and your spouse have a mutual automatic restraining order after filing for divorce.
The California Gun Free School Zone Act penalizes individuals for possessing a firearm in a place they know or rationally ought to know is within a school zone. The Act also penalizes individuals for discharging a firearm or attempting to discharge one within school premises. If you happen to be charged with any offense relating to this act, it is advisable to consult an experienced Los Angeles attorney to guide and advise you on the course of action.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS