California Penal Code Section 16590 PC: Manufacturing, Selling Or Possessing Dangerous Weapons

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

dangerous weapon

Although the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a right to bear arms, there are limits and restrictions on what types of weapons one can own. Under California Penal Code Section 16590 PC, it is illegal to manufacture, sell or possess specific dangerous weapons, also referred to as “generally prohibited weapons.”

In order to prove a defendant committed this offense, a prosecutor must be able to establish that the defendant knowingly:

  1. Possessed
  2. Manufactured
  3. Caused to be manufactured
  4. Imported into California
  5. OR offered for sale

One of the following generally prohibited weapons:

  1. Prohibited Firearms
    1. Short-barreled shotgun
    2. Short-barreled rifle
    3. Undetectable firearm
    4. Firearm that is not immediately recognizable as a firearm
    5. Unconventional pistol
    6. Cane gun, wallet gun or zip gun
  2. Prohibited Firearm Equipment/Ammunition
    1. Camouflaging firearm container
    2. Ammunition that contains or consists of any flechette dart
    3. Bullet containing an explosive agent
    4. Multiburst trigger activator
    5. Large-capacity magazine
  3. Prohibited Knives/Swords
    1. Ballistic Knife
    2. Belt-buckle knife
    3. Lipstick case knife
    4. Cane sword
    5. Shobi-zue
    6. Air guage knife
    7. Writing pen knife
  4. Prohibited Martial Arts Weapons
    1. Nunchaku
    2. Shuriken
  5. Other prohibited weapons
    1. Brass knuckles/metal knuckles
    2. Leaded cane
    3. Metal military practice grenade/metal replica grenade
    4. Blackjack/slungshot/billy/sandclub/sap/sandbag

There are many exceptions to who may be prosecuted for this offense, including martial arts academies, antique collectors or historians who have authorization, and people who use these items in certain film productions.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Brandishing a Weapon or Firearm - California Penal Code Section 417 PC
  2. Possession of a Switchblade – California Penal Code Section 21510 PC
  3. Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger – California Penal Code Section 21310 PC
  4. Assault with a Deadly WeaponCalifornia Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) PC

3. Examples

A man goes on vacation to the Far East and brings back many souvenirs, including nunchakus (nunchucks) for his nephew who loves kung fu movies. The man is searched at LAX and the weapon is discovered. The man could be charged with possessing a dangerous weapon even though he did know he was not allowed to possess nunchucks in California. Ignorance of the law is not a legal excuse to a crime.

In another example, an actor on location shooting an action movie wears a pair of brass knuckles that is required for his role. A passing police officer notices the man wearing the weapon and cites him for possession of a dangerous weapon. The actor would not be criminally liable for this offense because his possession of the brass knuckles falls within one of the exceptions to California Penal Code Section 16590 PC.

4. Defenses to Manufacturing, Selling or Possessing Dangerous Weapons

As mentioned above, if the defendant falls within one of the exemptions to the statute, or if the defendant had a permit or authorization to possess the dangerous weapon, he or she would not be guilty of this offense.

In addition, if the dangerous weapon was discovered during a search and seizure conducted by law enforcement without probable cause, the defendant can challenge the admissibility of the evidence (i.e. the weapon) and potentially have it suppressed by a judge.

5. Penalties

Manufacturing, selling and/or possessing dangerous weapons is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor of a felony. When making a filing decision, prosecutors will consider factors such as the circumstances of the offense and the criminal history of the defendant. If convicted as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is a year in jail. If the defendant is convicted of a felony, he or she can be sentenced to prison for a period of up to three years.

6. Criminal Defense for Dangerous Weapons Cases

If you have been charged with manufacturing, selling or possessing dangerous weapons, it is critical that you speak with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to best fight these types of charges. Mr. Kraut understands that the offense may have been committed unintentionally or without knowledge of the numerous restrictions under the law and fights hard to ensure his clients receive the best outcome possible.

For more information about manufacturing, selling or possessing dangerous weapons 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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