Brandishing a Weapon

California Penal Code Section 417 – Brandishing a Weapon or Firearm

The crime of “brandishing a weapon or firearm” is covered under California Penal Code Section 417. This statute makes it unlawful to publicly exhibit or draw a deadly weapon in the presence of another person in a rude, angry, or threatening manner that was not in a situation of self-defense or defense of another person. Additionally, if you use a deadly weapon unlawfully during a quarrel or fight, it’s also considered a crime of brandishing a weapon.

So, what exactly is considered a deadly weapon? It can include anything that is inherently dangerous or used in a manner that is capable of causing great bodily injury (GBI) or death. This could include firearms, baseball bat, brick, bottle, razor, rock, knife, scissors, among many other items. It should be noted that a “great bodily injury” means a significant injury, or more than just something minor.

Some Penal Code 417 brandishing a weapon offenses are a misdemeanor offense, while others are a “wobbler” or even a felony crime. A wobbler means the Los Angeles County prosecutor has the discretion to charge the case as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Their decision is typically based on the specific circumstances of your case and prior criminal history. A PC 417 misdemeanor conviction will carry up to 30 days in a local county jail, but a felony conviction carries up to 3 years in a California state prison.

As you can see, a conviction can result in harsh legal consequences impacting your personal and professional life. Therefore, if you have been accused of brandishing a weapon or firearm in violation of Penal Code 417, you should consult with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal defense lawyer at the Goldstein Law Group. Our law firm has a track record of success and can guide you through the often complex legal process in all Los Angeles County Criminal Courts. Let’s take a close look at the legal definition, penalties, and legal defense below.

Legal Definition of Brandishing a Weapon or Firearm

California Penal Code Section 417 describes brandishing a weapon or firearm as follows:

(a) (1) Anyone who, except in self-defense, in the presence of someone else, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or who unlawfully uses a deadly weapon in any fight or quarrel is guilty of a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by 30 days in a county jail.

Brandishing a weapon in the presence of someone else simply means there was another person present when you exhibited your deadly weapon. A rude, angry, or threatening manner is pretty obvious and straightforward, thus it doesn’t require further explanation.  However, it should be noted you don’t have to have actual intent on harming the other person to be convicted.

As discussed above, a deadly weapon is described as any object or instrument inherently deadly or dangerous or is capable of being used in a manner that could cause serious injury or death. Again this includes obvious items such as knives, guns, shotguns, rifles, but also less obvious items such as large rocks, pipes, broken bottle, and other objects.

Elements of a PC 417 Brandishing a Weapon Crime

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of brandishing a weapon or firearm in violation of California Penal Code Section 417, they must be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the following all elements of the crime:

  • You were in possession of a deadly weapon
  • You were in the presence of someone else
  • You drew or exhibited the weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or
  • You unlawfully used the weapon in a fight or quarrel with someone else
  • You were not acting in self-defense or defense of someone else

It should be noted that while Penal Code 417 brandishing a weapon is similar to Penal Code 245 assault with a deadly weapon (ADW), they have different elements of the crime. For example, ADW requires you to have intent to cause harm to the victim, but brandishing a weapon does not.

Legal Penalties for PC 417 Brandishing a Weapon

If you are convicted of Penal Code 417 brandishing a weapon as a misdemeanor offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 30 days in jail for drawing a deadly weapon
  • Up to 6 months in jail exhibiting a firearm
  • A fine up to $1,000

If you are convicted of brandishing a firearm at an open child daycare center, it can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you will face 3 months to one year in county jail. If convicted of a felony, you can be sentenced up to 3 years in a California state prison.

If you brandished a firearm in the presence of a law enforcement officer performing their duties, you can be sentenced up to 9 months for a misdemeanor offense and up to 3 years in prison for a felony offense.

Related Offenses for PC 417 Brandishing a Weapon

California Penal Code Section 245 – Assault with a Deadly Weapon
California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2) – Assault with a Firearm
California Penal Code Section 422 – Criminal Threats
California Penal Code Section 626.9 – Gun-Free School Zone Act

Legal Defenses for PC 417 Brandishing a Weapon

There are a wide range of legal defenses available to our criminal defense lawyers. Every case is unique and will first require a close review of the facts and circumstances of your case. When our clients consult with us while under investigation or immediately after arrested, early intervention is often the difference formal charges being filed or a DA reject of your case.

Our investigation may uncover critical favorable evidence or facts that lead us to conclude criminal charges would be unprovable. We understand how to navigate the criminal justice system and are ready to represent you from the inception of an investigation. If pre-filing representation is not an option, the most common defenses against charges of Penal Code 417 brandishing a weapon including the following:

Self-defense: The legal definition and elements of the crime above specifically states “except in self-defense.” In some cases, we may be able to argue you were lawfully defending yourself of someone else. Under California’s self-defense laws, you are allowed to use self-defense if you had a reasonable belief you or another person were in imminent harm and you used no more force than necessary to defend yourself against that harm.

Display of weapon was not threatening: Going back again to the legal definition and elements of the crime above, the prosecutor must ab able to prove you “drew or exhibited the weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner.” Perhaps we could make an argument your display of the weapon was not threatening or your behavior was just misunderstood.

Contact the Goldstein Law Group

If you or a family member has been accused of brandishing a weapon or firearm in violation of California Penal Code Section 417, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm. We will review the specific details of the allegations against you and provide legal advice moving forward.

Early intervention into your case can make a dramatic impact on the outcome of your case.  We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our Hollywood Office located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact our law firm at 323-461-2000.