California Penal Code Section 26100 PC: Shooting From a Motor Vehicle
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
In California, shooting from a motor vehicle, commonly referred to as "drive-by shooting," is a serious offense that can result in lengthy prison sentences for those convicted. Shooting from a motor vehicle is prohibited under California Penal Code Section 26100 PC.
California Penal Code Section 26100 PC covers a wide range of criminal behavior associated with drive-by shootings, including:
- Willfully and maliciously shooting at another person while in a motor vehicle
- Willfully and maliciously firing from within a motor vehicle
- Driving or owning a car and letting another person discharge a firearm from within the motor vehicle
- Driving or owning a car and knowingly allowing another person to bring a gun into that vehicle
The motor vehicle does not actually have to be in motion for the defendant to commit a drive-by shooting.
2. Related Offenses
Similar offenses include the following:
- Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Car - California Penal Code Section 246 PC
- Shooting in a Grossly Negligent Manner - California Penal Code Section 246.3 PC
- Assault with a Firearm - California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2) PC
- Carrying a Loaded Firearm - California Penal Code Section 25850 PC
A husband learns that his wife is cheating on him with another man and wants to frighten this other man. One evening the husband takes a gun and drives to other man's house, where he parks outside. When the other man steps out his front door, the husband fires a few warning shots in the air to frighten the other man while seated in his parked vehicle. The husband could be prosecuted for shooting from a motor vehicle in violation of California Penal Code Section 26100 PC even though the vehicle was not actually moving at the time of the shooting and even though he only shot in the air and did not aim at the other man.
In another example, a man is out driving his car when he gets a call from his cousin asking for a ride. The man agrees to pick up his cousin. He does not realize that his cousin is carrying a concealed firearm. At one point, the cousin asks the man to slow down when he drives by a particular address. When the man does this, the cousin removes the firearm and shoots at the house. The man would not criminally liable for shooting from a motor vehicle, as he did not knowingly allow his cousin to bring a gun into the vehicle or shoot from his car.
4. Defenses to Shooting from a Motor Vehicle
As discussed above, if the car's driver or owner did not know that his or her passenger was armed with a gun, he or she would not be guilty of a drive-by shooting offense. In addition, there may be circumstances where a driver or owner only allows a passenger to shoot a gun from the vehicle because they were threatened by this passenger. In these situations, the driver or owner of the vehicle would have a valid duress defense.
Furthermore, if the defendant accused of shooting from a motor vehicle only shot as a result of a genuine and reasonable concern for his or her own safety or the safety of another person, that defendant would have a valid self defense claim.
If the defendant is a driver or owner who knowingly allowed another person to carry a firearm in his or her vehicle, that defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.
If the defendant knowingly allowed another person to shoot a firearm in his or her vehicle, the offense is a "wobbler" that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a year in jail. If charged as a felony, the maximum penalty would be three years in prison.
If the defendant personally shoots a gun from the vehicle, but not at another person, the offense is also a "wobbler" that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. If the defendant shot at another person from the vehicle, the offense is always a felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
6. Criminal Defense for Shooting from a Motor Vehicle
If you or someone you know have been charged with shooting from a motor vehicle it is critical that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to effectively defend cases such as this. Mr. Kraut is well-known throughout the court system as a tough litigator who works hard to ensure his clients receive the best defense possible.
For more information about shooting from a motor vehicle, 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 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.