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California Gun Free Zone Act Penal Code 626.9

According to California Penal Code Section 626.9, also known as the California Gun Free Zone Act, it is illegal to knowingly possess loaded or unloaded a firearm, or to discharge a firearm in a school zone.

Elements of Penal Code Section 626.9

Prosecutor must establish the following elements to convict the defendant of violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

  • Defendant was in possession of a firearm
  • Defendant was within a school-zone
  • Defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, that he was in a school-zone

Firearm

For purposes of PC Section 629.9 a firearm is a device designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel, a projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion.

School Zone

School zone is an area, “in, or on the grounds of, a public or private school providing instruction to kindergarten or grades 1 to 12”, or within 1,000 feet of those grounds.

Penal Code Section 626.9 Exemptions

There are numerous provisions in the law when a person can escape from criminal liability. The law isn’t applicable under the following circumstances:

  • Person is an authorized military personnel or police officer
  • Person is an authorized security guard or transporter for a financial institution, bank, or other common carrier
  • Person is a licensed individual engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, importing, wholesaling, or dealing in firearms
  • Person has a written permission from the school district
  • Person is on a private property either at a business or residence as long as he lawfully possesses the gun
  • Person is carrying a concealed pistol or revolver that is unloaded and is in a locked container within his vehicle

Legal defenses to California PC Section 626.9 Charges

Legal defenses to California PC Section 626.9 charges

  • Defendant did not know or could not reasonably know that he was near a school zone
  • Defendant was subjected to an unlawful search and seizure
  • Any of the exemptions listed in the act applied to the defendant at the time

Penalties for Violating the Gun-Free School Zone Act

In case the defendant possessed a firearm in, or on the grounds of a public or private school he will face two, three, or five years sentence in California state prison.

In case the defendant possessed a firearm within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a public or private school he will face a sentence of two, three, or five years in California state prison when any of the bellow mentioned circumstances apply:

  • Defendant had prior felony convictions
  • Defendant was prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to Chapter 2, or Chapter 3, of Division 9 of Title 4 of Part 6 of California Penal Code, or Section 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
  • The firearm was a revolver, pistol, or any other concealable firearm, punishable as an illegally concealed weapon pursuant to PC Section 25400

In case the defendant discharged, or attempted to discharge a firearm in a school zone, he will face a sentence of three, five, or seven years in California state prison.

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