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Penal Code 12022.55: Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle Enhancement Laws in California

PC 12022.55: Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle Enhancement

Legal Definition:

PC 12022.55: “Notwithstanding Section 12022.5, any person who, with the intent to inflict great bodily injury or death, inflicts great bodily injury, as defined in Section 12022.7, or causes the death of a person, other than an occupant of a motor vehicle, as a result of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony or attempted felony, shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment…”

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 12022.55 the prosecution must show that:

  1. You discharged a firearm from a motor vehicle;
  2. You committed the offense with the intent to inflict great bodily injury or death;


  1. The injury was inflicted while in the commission or attempted commission of a felony.

What does this mean?

This is not a criminal section you can be charged with, instead, it is an Enhancement. What that means, is that you must be first charged with a felony offense, and then thereafter you are also alleged to have committed this secondary violation by committing that felony with a firearm being shot from a moving motor vehicle. A firearm is any device designed to be used as a weapon, from which a projectile is discharged or expelled through a barrel by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion. The firearm need not be loaded at the time of the felony, nor does it even need to be working order so long as it is designed to shoot and appears capable of shooting.

Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm. A deadly weapon is any object, instrument, or weapon [that is inherently deadly or one] that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury. An object is inherently deadly if it is deadly or dangerous in the ordinary use for which it was designed.


As state above, a violation of PC 12022.55 is an enhancement, not a stand-alone crime. Therefore, you would never be charged with enhancement by itself, it has to be added to a felony offense you are already charged with. This enhancement can add an additional 5, 6, or 10 years to your felony case.

PC 12022.55 is a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law but is not a charge requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. You would likely face a loss, suspension, or revocation of your professional license. You could also face immigration consequences if you are a non-US Citizen living in the United States, since this may be considered an aggravated felony under Federal Law, and is also a crime of moral turpitude.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights
  4. Self Defense

The defenses to enhancements are quite a bit different than regular criminal charges. Here, a common defense can be that you were not, for example, in the commission of a felony offense. If there is no felony offense, then you cannot have a gun enhancement added to your case, and that would be found “not true” by a Court. It also must be a felony charge to have an enhancement, if, for example, you use a discharged firearm upon committing a misdemeanor offense, then this enhancement would not apply to your case.

If the firearm malfunctions or you did not intend to discharge the firearm during the felony offense, then this enhancement cannot be proven. Another aspect to attack regarding the elements of your enhancement is that if you didn’t intend for the discharge to actually cause great bodily injury. Imagine a gang altercation, where a person wants to end the fights so they can leave. They decided as they drive away to shoot a few warning shots at the people fighting. If one of the shots hits someone, you could be charged with numerous crimes, such as Murder, but if you did not intend to fire into this group to cause great bodily injury, then this enhancement cannot be proven against you. You must intend to cause great bodily injury, firing warning shots is not that. Your attorney can therefore argue that this enhancement cannot be proven and must be dismissed.

Call Today

Facing a criminal charge that carries an enhancement like PC 12022.55 can significantly increase the severity of your sentence, potentially adding up to 10 years. This kind of enhancement, often related to specific circumstances surrounding a crime, underscores the importance of a sophisticated and robust defense strategy to safeguard your future and increase the chances of returning home sooner rather than later.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, based in Ontario, CA, our seasoned PC 12022.55 attorney has a proven track record of successfully defending a multitude of clients across the Inland Empire faced with critical criminal offenses. We understand the profound impact a conviction can have on your life, both immediately and in the long term, and we’re committed to providing an aggressive defense tailored to your unique situation.

Why Rely on Inland Empire Criminal Defense for Your PC 12022.55 Case?

  • Proven Success: Our attorney specializing in PC 12022.55 cases brings extensive experience and a history of positive outcomes, underscoring our capability to handle even the most challenging situations.
  • Dedicated Support: We offer comprehensive legal support from the outset, ensuring that every aspect of your case is meticulously examined to develop the most effective defense strategy.
  • Around-the-Clock Availability: Recognizing the urgency and stress that come with facing criminal charges, our team is available 24/7 to answer your queries, provide reassurance, and guide you through the legal process.

Initiate Your Defense Strategy Today

If you or a loved one is confronting charges that include the PC 12022.55 enhancement, taking swift action to secure expert legal representation is crucial. Inland Empire Criminal Defense is prepared to defend your rights vigorously and strive for the most favorable outcome possible.

Contact Us for Immediate Assistance

Do not leave your future to chance with such a serious charge hanging over you. Reach out to Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-939-7126 for a free initial consultation. Our commitment to your defense is unwavering, and we’re ready to answer your questions and provide the dedicated representation you deserve. Our office is strategically located in Ontario, CA, making us easily accessible to clients throughout the Inland Empire.

Frequently Asked Questions

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We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

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Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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