Carrying a Concealed Firearm

Most people do not have a California Concealed Weapon permit in California and therefore are subject to Penal Code section 25400 which makes it unlawful to carry a concealed firearm on your person or in your vehicle. California is one of the strictest gun law states and most firearms charges are vigorously pursued by prosecutors. If you are charged with carrying a concealed firearm it is important to consult with an experienced weapons charge defense attorney as soon as possible.

Elements of Penal Code Section 25400

To violate Penal Code section 25400, the concealed firearm does not have to be on the body of the person, it may be concealed in a purse, briefcase or by other means directly in the possession and control of the offender. Furthermore, the firearm need not be operational if it is designed to shoot a projectile through the barrel and appears capable of doing so. A concealed firearm has a barrel of less than 16 inches and includes rocket propelled or similar devices that contains explosive or incendiary material, such as grenades.

“Concealed” means that the firearm is not openly exhibited. For example, a gun tucked in a waistband where the outline of the gun is clearly visible is still concealed. A partially concealed firearm is a concealed firearm. An example of this would be a gun tucked in a waistband with the butt of the gun exposed. However, this law excepts a gun carried in a belt holster.

If a weapon meeting this definition is carried in a vehicle and is not in a locked container or the trunk of the vehicle, it is a violation of this law. A locked container is a fully enclosed container that is locked by a locking device (padlock, key, combination lock, etc.). A glove or utility compartment, even if it has a lock, is not a locked container under the law.

It is important to understand that even though you are the registered owner of the firearm and are lawfully in possession of the firearm, you are still in violation of this statute if the above factors are met and the conditions discussed below are not.


Violation of this statute is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year and jail and a $1000 fine. However, this code section lists many aggravating factors that can increase the penalty substantially. Violation of Penal Code section 25400 is a felony if:

  • the defendant has a prior felony or weapons conviction,
  • the firearm is stolen,
  • the defendant is an active participant in a criminal street gang,
  • the defendant is in unlawful possession of the firearm, and/or
  • the defendant is within a class of persons prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Violation of Penal Code section 25400 is a wobbler if the defendant has a previous conviction of an offense against a person or property or certain drug violations. It is also a wobbler if the concealed firearm is loaded or if ammunition capable of being loaded in the firearm is readily accessible and the firearm is not registered to the defendant. A wobbler is an offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, the offense can result in a sentence of up to three years in jail.


An experienced weapons charge defense attorney who is skilled at negotiating with the Orange County District Attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser crime or a reduced sentence.

Fortunately, there are several defenses to this crime. Unfortunately, some of these defenses may preclude the charge but may be a violation of another statute such as openly carrying a firearm or carrying a loaded firearm.

Potential defenses include:

The firearm was not concealed, or it was in a belt holster.

There was no knowledge of the firearm. Section 25400 requires that the defendant knew that of the concealed firearm. For example, a driver of vehicle could not be charged with this crime if it could be established that he or she did not know one the passengers in the vehicle was carrying a weapon. Or perhaps the defendant was carrying another person’s purse or briefcase unaware that there was a firearm in the purse or briefcase.  

The barrel was over 16 inches.

It is not unlawful if the concealed firearm was being carried on the defendant’s legal place of residence, or in a business or private property legally owned by the defendant.

The law is not violated if the defendant can prove in a court of law that he or she carried the firearm because they were in grave danger due to circumstances that necessitated, and did result in, a restraining order.

It is not a violation of this statute if the firearm is being transported directly from where the firearm was legally acquired to the defendant’s place of residence, business, or private property.


If you have been charged with violating one of California’s many gun laws, included carrying a concealed firearm, Orange County criminal defense attorney William Weinberg is in your corner. He offers a complementary consultation where he will carefully review the details of the charge or charges against you and offer his assessment of your best defense.

Contact Attorney William Weinberg at his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or email him at

Client Reviews
He was open, honest and compassionate (qualities you don't always find in an attorney) and his credentials proved that he is more than qualified to handle this complicated case. JoAnn H.
Not only did [my case] get resolved with great efficiency, [Mr. Weinberg and his team] were very open with me and kept the lines of communication flowing which I appreciated greatly. Ryan T.
There are many things about our conversations that told me that bill was an honest guy and knew what he was talking about. Amy C.