I. PC 12022.55: Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle Enhancement
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:
- You discharged a firearm from a motor vehicle;
- You committed the offense with the intent to inflict great bodily injury or death;
- The injury was inflicted while in the commission or attempted commission of a felony.
II. 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.
IV. Common Defenses
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.
V. Call Today
A criminal conviction can have a devastating impact on your life and your future. A conviction here adds up to 10 years to your sentence making the likelihood of coming home one day further and further away and less likely. Our PC 12022.55 Ontario attorney has successfully defended thousands of people charged with criminal offenses in the Inland Empire. You, or your loved one, cannot take a chance on such a serious enhancement. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.