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In California, drive-by shootings are a menace that terrorize neighborhoods and often result in injuries or deaths. According to California Penal Code Section 26100, a drive-by shooting occurs when a person willfully or maliciously discharges a firearm from a motor vehicle.
To be clear, “willfully” means that the act was committed on purpose, while “maliciously” means that the person intentionally tried to disturb, annoy, or injure someone. But firing at someone from your car isn’t the only way you can be charged with a crime under Penal Code Section 26100.
The law also prohibits you from knowingly letting someone else bring a firearm into your car, or letting someone discharge a firearm from your car. Additionally, you can be charged for discharging a firearm from within your car, or for shooting at someone outside of your car, even if you miss.
Even if you’re not in the vehicle, you can still be charged if you allowed someone to discharge a firearm from it. And it’s worth noting that the vehicle doesn’t have to be moving at the time of the alleged offense. Committing any of the above acts while the car is idle is still illegal.
For example, a vengeful husband may park his car in front of his house to frighten a man he believes is sleeping with his wife. When the man steps out of his home, the husband fires a few shots into the air from his car. This is a violation of California’s drive-by shooting laws.
To be convicted of a crime under Penal Code Section 26100, the prosecution will try to prove that you or your passenger discharged a firearm willfully and maliciously, that you were either driving the vehicle or owned it at the time of the offense, and that the firearm was discharged from inside the vehicle. Even if the gun was never fired, you can still be convicted if the prosecution can show that you knowingly allowed a passenger to bring a firearm into your car.
If you’re facing allegations of violating Penal Code Section 26100, it’s crucial to have a skilled attorney to prove your innocence. Some defenses that our team of attorneys can successfully prove to the court include:
You didn’t know the passenger had a gun.
You didn’t allow the passenger to bring the gun into your car or shoot it.
In California, you’re allowed to use force to defend yourself if certain elements are present. If you can prove that you or your passenger acted out of a reasonable concern for safety and used only the necessary force, you may have a valid defense.
If you find yourself facing allegations of violating Penal Code Section 26100 in California, you could be facing severe penalties that depend on the specific details of your case. Knowing what to expect can be critical in your defense.
If a passenger in your car discharged a weapon, the consequences are severe, with varying penalties based on whether you possessed the firearm or not.
If you owned or drove the vehicle and allowed a passenger to bring a firearm into the car, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. This can result in up to six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If the passenger fired the weapon from your car while you were driving, you face up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
In cases where the passenger caused serious injury or death while firing a firearm from your car, you may face 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison, along with up to $10,000 in fines.
If you are convicted of discharging a gun from your car, the charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor charge carries up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines, while a felony conviction can result in up to three years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
If you shot at another person from your vehicle, it is automatically charged as a felony, with penalties including three, five, or seven years in state prison and $10,000 in fines.
A felony conviction for drive-by shooting counts as a “serious felony” under California’s Three Strikes Law, resulting in a strike on your record. If you already have one strike, a subsequent felony conviction can lead to a prison sentence twice as long as usual. With two strikes or more, a drive-by shooting conviction carries a sentence of 25 years to life.
Here are some common questions clients have asked in the past to help you better understand your allegations:
Q: Will I be convicted if I did not know my passenger had a gun?
A: No, the prosecution must prove you knew your passenger had a gun. Your attorney can help you prove you had no idea.
Q: Can I prove self-defense?
A: You may be allowed to discharge a weapon in self-defense if you believed your life was in danger. Your attorney can help you provide evidence of self-defense.
Q: Are there other crimes related to drive-by shooting?
A: Possessing an assault weapon or a .50 BMG rifle can result in up to three years in state prison and $10,000 in fines. Inflicting bodily injury can lead to up to 10 years in state prison.
Facing allegations of drive-by shooting can be a daunting experience, but understanding the charges and consequences can make all the difference in your defense. With the right attorney on your side, you can fight the allegations and protect your rights.
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