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PC 26350 Open Carry Laws in California- IE-Criminal Defense

PC 26350: Open Carry

Legal Definition: (a) (1) A person is guilty of openly carrying an unloaded handgun when that person carries upon his or her person an exposed and unloaded handgun outside a vehicle while in or on any of the following:

(A) A public place or public street in an incorporated city or city and county.

(B) A public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated area of a county or city and county.

(C) A public place in a prohibited area of a county or city and county.

(2) A person is guilty of openly carrying an unloaded handgun when that person carries an exposed and an unloaded handgun inside or on a vehicle, whether or not on his or her person, while in or on any of the following:

(A) A public place or public street in an incorporated city or city and county.

(B) A public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated area of a county or city and county.

(C) A public place in a prohibited area of a county or city and county.

In order to secure a guilty verdict under PC 26350, the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant knowingly possessed an exposed and unloaded firearm/handgun either on their person or in a vehicle.
  • The defendant was aware that they were carrying said firearm.
  • The defendant carried the firearm in a public place, public street, or a legally restricted area.

As an experienced authority in legal matters, I can assure you that these criteria are pivotal for a successful prosecution under PC 26350.

What does this mean?

In order to maintain a solid understanding of the legalities surrounding firearm possession, it is essential to consider the following factors. A handgun is considered exposed if it lacks any form of concealment or if it can be easily identified as a firearm. Should you have a partially exposed handgun or one that is unmistakable as a firearm, it is crucial to note that charges may be filed under PC 25400 for a violation of Carrying a Concealed Firearm, rather than under the present section. It is also worth mentioning that the loaded or unloaded status of a handgun does not affect its categorization as a crime under this section. For our purposes, a handgun pertains to any pistol, revolver, or firearm that can be concealed on an individual.

To elaborate further, a firearm is defined as any device with a barrel measuring less than 16 inches in length or designed to be interchanged with such a barrel. It is meant to be used as a weapon by expelling a projectile through the means of an explosion or combustion. Public places, as we refer to them, encompass areas reasonably accessible without a barrier for the general public. However, it is important to note that certain places, such as schools, airports, jails or prisons, government buildings, courthouses, and post offices, are classified as prohibited zones.

Given that you are not disqualified from owning or possessing a firearm, meaning that you do not have a felony or Domestic Violence conviction, there are circumstances under which you may legally have an unloaded firearm in public. Having a valid permit to carry would exempt you from prosecution under this section. Additionally, transportation of an unloaded firearm in a locked container or trunk of your car for a lawful purpose is another means of compliance with this section. Furthermore, individuals transporting unloaded firearms that cannot be concealed on their person, such as rifles or shotguns, are not subject to guilt under this section.


A charge under PC 26350 under the Open Carry laws of California is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could be sentenced to County Jail for upwards of one year. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You could also be subject to fines upwards of $1,000. This is also a different and distinct violation than Carrying a loaded firearm in public under PC 25850 or Carrying a Concealed Firearm under PC 25400. Being charged under this section does not preclude charges under other sections, for example, if you are in possession of illegal ammo, an illegal firearm, among other offenses you can be charged with. You could also lose possession of the firearm, even if legally purchased, by police.

This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Courtsince the offense is deportable, in that it is a crime of using a firearm.  

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence

In order for a conviction to be reached under this specific section, it is imperative that the Prosecution successfully establishes your guilt by providing evidence for all three elements mentioned above. Failure to prove all three elements would indicate a lack of sufficient evidence to convict you of any crime. It’s important to note that there are technical defenses available, as explained previously, which may potentially result in the avoidance of a conviction under this particular section. These defenses may include cases involving locked transportation, possession of a valid permit, or possession of an unconcealable firearm.

However, it should be emphasized that if a locked container is present and it is not properly locked, this cannot be considered as a viable defense to refute the presence of sufficient evidence under this section. It’s crucial to understand that if the firearm is stored in a trunk or a locked container, it can significantly contribute to proving a lack of sufficient evidence to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

It is not uncommon for individuals working as security guards, who carry firearms as part of their occupational duties, to encounter situations like the one described above. It is often the case that they possess the necessary permits or exceptions which allow them to carry firearms in public. However, it is important to highlight the significance of ensuring that the firearm, when being transported from home to work, is unloaded and stored in a locked position. This is of utmost importance, as it greatly impacts individuals in similar positions since a conviction under this section of the law can result in the loss of their permits or exceptions, consequently affecting their employment prospects in the field.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that there is an additional requirement that necessitates a demonstration of your knowledge regarding the presence of the unloaded firearm in the vehicle, while also considering whether it was properly secured. The Prosecution must establish that you were fully aware of the firearm’s presence in the vehicle, and that it was not secured in order to secure a conviction under this section. In cases where you borrow a friend’s car, for instance, and are unaware of the firearm’s existence in the vehicle, it can be argued that there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Navigating the legal complexities of firearm-related charges such as PC 26350 is not only daunting but can profoundly affect every facet of your life. From risking your career prospects to losing your personal freedom, the stakes are high. Perhaps even more personal is the potential permanent loss of family firearms, which often carry cherished memories and historical significance passed down through generations.

At the heart of a robust defense is the right representation, and this is where Inland Empire Criminal Defense steps in. Our esteemed Ontario PC 26350 attorney, fortified with unparalleled expertise, has been a beacon of hope for countless individuals grappling with firearm-related charges and Open Carry violations under PC 26350. Our track record speaks volumes of our dedication, determination, and depth of knowledge.

As you stand at this legal crossroad, remember the significance of enlisting an attorney who not only understands the law but also appreciates the profound impact such a case can have on your life. We extend an invitation for a consultation, ensuring you are well-informed and confident in your defense strategy.

To embark on a journey of expert legal defense and to safeguard your rights and cherished possessions, contact us at 909-281-0456. Centrally situated in Ontario, the Inland Empire Criminal Defense is here to champion your cause and protect what matters most to you.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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