California Penal Code Section 12022 PC: Armed with a Firearm

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

robbery

Lawmakers have recognized that felony offenses involving firearms are much more serious and should carry harsher punishments. As a result, the legislature enacted California Penal Code Section 12022 PC, which is a sentencing enhancement applicable to those whose felony offenses were committed while armed with a firearm. This enhancement can add significant prison time to any felony sentence imposed.

In order to impose the firearm enhancement under California Penal Code Section 12022 PC, a prosecutor must establish that when the defendant committed or attempted to commit the underlying crime, one of the principals in the crime was armed with a firearm. A principal is armed with a firearm when that person:

  1. Carries a firearm or has a firearm available for use in either offense or defense in connection with the crime.
  2. AND knows that he or she is carrying the firearm [or has it available].

A person is a principal in a crime if he or she directly commits or attempts the crime or if he or she aids another person who commits or attempts the crime.

Other sections of California Penal Code Section 12022 PC can be used to enhance convictions in the following situations:

  1. Possession of ammunition designed to pierce metal/armor or wearing body armor – California Penal Code Section 12022.2 PC
  2. Using or possessing a firearm during specific sex offenses – California Penal Code Section 12022.3 PC
  3. Providing another person with a firearm to aid in the commission of a felony – California Penal Code Section 12022.4 PC
  4. Personally using firearms during the commission of a felony – California Penal Code Section 12022.5 PC

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Brandishing a Weapon or Firearm - California Penal Code Section 417 PC
  2. Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car - California Penal Code Section 246 PC
  3. Assault with a FirearmCalifornia Penal Code Section 245(a)(2) PC

3. Examples

A man plans to rob a convenience store with his friend. Although it is never openly discussed, the man knows that his friend always carries a firearm. During the commission of the robbery, the friend pulls his gun on the store owner and threatens to shoot him if he does not comply with their demands. The owner turns over the contents of the cash register and both men are arrested shortly thereafter. The man could be charged with robbery in violation of California Penal Code Section 211 PC in addition to the armed with a firearm enhancement pursuant to California Penal Code Section 12022 PC, even though he was not personally armed with a firearm.

4. Defenses to the Armed with a Firearm Enhancement

If the defendant is not convicted of the underlying felony offense, any underlying firearm enhancement would be inapplicable.

In addition, if the firearm in question was found as the result of an illegal search and seizure conducted without probable cause, the defendant can contest the admissibility of the evidence and ultimately get the firearm suppressed. If this happens, the prosecutor would be unable to proceed.

5. Penalties

The armed with a firearm enhancement allows the sentencing judge to add additional and consecutive prison time to any underlying felony conviction. The amount of additional time depends on which section of California Penal Code Section 12022 PC is alleged:

  1. California Penal Code Section 12022 PC – If the defendant is found to have possessed a firearm during the commission of a felony, he or she can be sentenced to an additional year in prison. If the underlying felony was a carjacking in violation of California Penal Code Section 215 PC or if the firearm possessed was an assault weapon or machine gun an additional three years can be added to the underlying sentence. If the underlying offense was one of several specific drug felonies, the defendant can be sentenced to an additional five years for personally possessing a firearm and an additional three years if another principal possessed the firearm

  2. California Penal Code Section 12022.2 PC – If the defendant possessed armor piercing ammunition, he or she could be sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison. If the defendant wore body armor during the commission of the felony, an additional five years can be added to any sentence.

  3. California Penal Code Section 12022.3 PC – If a gun is used during the commission of certain sex offenses, an additional 10 years can be added the underlying sentence. If the gun was possessed but not used, an additional five years can be imposed.

  4. California Penal Code Section 12022.4 PC - Providing another person with a firearm to aid in the commission of a felony can add three extra years to any underlying felony conviction.

  5. California Penal Code Section 12022.5 PC - Personally using firearms during the commission of a felony can add up to ten years to any conviction.

6. Defense for Armed with a Firearm Enhancement

If you have been charged with a felony with an additional firearm enhancement, it is crucial that you speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who formerly prosecuted violent felonies. Mr. Kraut is highly experienced at handling these types of serious cases and works hard to obtain the best result possible for his clients.

For more information about firearm enhancements, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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