The Negligent Discharge of a Weapon in California

The Negligent Discharge of a Weapon in California

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Unless you’ve been convicted of certain felonies or fail to meet some other aspect of California’s gun ownership laws, you’re allowed to own a firearm. What you’re not allowed to do is use the firearm in a negligent manner that could ultimately result in the injury or even death of another person. Even if no one was hurt during the incident, you could be charged with the negligent discharge of a weapon.

The negligent discharge of a weapon is laid out in Penal Code 246.3 PC. It clearly states:

“(a) Except as otherwise authorized by law, any person who willfully discharges a firearm in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(b) Except as otherwise authorized by law, any person who willfully discharges a BB device in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.
(c) As used in this section, “BB device” means any instrument that expels a projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, through the force of air pressure, gas pressure, or spring action.”

It’s important to note that while most people assume that anyone who has been charged with negligent discharge of a weapon deliberately carelessly fired their gun, there have been times when the accused simply shot the gun by accident. The idea behind the law is that you are always aware of the safety of others and in full control of the firearm.

Examples of negligent discharge of a firearm in California include:

✨ Pointing the gun into the air and firing
✨ Carelessly tossing the firearm at someone without making sure that there is no way it can fire when the other person grabs it
✨ Target practicing in an area that is full of people

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor negligent discharge of a weapon, you could spend up to the next 12 months in a county jail. If you’re convicted of felony negligent discharge of a weapon, the sentence could be 16 months, two years, or even three years in custody.

It’s important to note that negligent discharge of a weapon only covers firing/using the weapon in a manner that has the potential to harm or kill another. If your actions result in an injury or death, you’ll face far more serious criminal charges and will likely also be the defendant in a civil case.