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Penal Code 16590 California’s Prohibited Weapons Laws- IE-Criminal Defense

PC 16590: Prohibited Weapons in California

Under PC 16590, the state of California has made it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess what is considered a dangerous or prohibited weapon. Some well-known examples of such weapons include brass knuckles, nunchakus, and short-barreled shotguns. For a comprehensive list, please refer to the official documentation provided below:

To secure a conviction under PC 16590, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

Knowledgeable involvement:

  • The accused possessed the relevant expertise and experience.
  • Manufacturing, selling, or possessing:
  • The accused actively engaged in the manufacturing, selling, or possession of the weapon.
  • Violation of PC 16590 provisions:
  • The weapon in question falls within the parameters outlined by PC 16590.

Rest assured that our understanding of PC 16590 and its implications enables us to provide accurate and trustworthy information.

What does this mean?

Under this section, guilt is established only when it is proven that the individual possesses knowledge of the object being a weapon or capable of functioning as one. Intent to use the weapon need not be proven, as mere possession itself is subject to penalties. Possession, in this context, encompasses both actual and constructive possession. Actual possession refers to physically carrying the item, while constructive possession occurs when one is able to exercise control over the item, either personally or jointly with another person. Consequently, multiple individuals can lawfully possess a prohibited weapon concurrently. For instance, consider the scenario of two roommates who store brass knuckles in a safe within their shared residence.

However, it is important to note that certain individuals are excluded from prosecution under this section, including law enforcement personnel and police officers. Additionally, schools are permitted to possess nunchakus exclusively for the purpose of teaching martial arts.


A violation under PC 16590 is a wobbler offense, meaning you can be charged under this section with a misdemeanor or a felony charge. The charge will depend on the amount of illegal weapons seized, your criminal history, and the specific facts of your case that lead to your arrest. If you are convicted under this section as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to upwards of one year in County Jail. If you were to be convicted of this section as a felony, you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 16 months, two or three years. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You would also lose possession of any prohibited weapon through a police seizure and destruction. You can also be subject to a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on if you are charged with this violation as a misdemeanor or a felony.

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 or you can be marked as inadmissible, in that it is a crime using a firearm.

Common Defenses

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

There is an array of defenses that can effectively aid your case. For instance, it is crucial for the prosecution to demonstrate that the weapon you possessed is explicitly listed as a prohibited weapon in the relevant section. Simple possession of a weapon, such as a firearm, for instance, is insufficient. The prosecution must establish that your weapon falls under the category of prohibited weapons; otherwise, there is insufficient evidence to establish your guilt for this crime.

Moreover, it is significant to note that if you lack knowledge that the item you possess is a weapon or could be utilized as one, it serves as a protective measure for individuals who innocently transport items without being aware of their nature. If they were never informed about the item’s status as a prohibited weapon and had no reason to believe so, they cannot be found guilty. However, being specifically informed that the weapon is prohibited, even without physically observing it due to concealed transportation, would not serve as a defense. Failing to establish knowledge of the weapon being prohibited or that the item can be used as one would indicate insufficient evidence to establish your guilt for this crime, safeguarding your interests.

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Facing a charge under PC 16590 can be life-altering, threatening not only your current employment prospects but also permanently revoking fundamental rights, such as firearm ownership. A mere possession allegation can incarcerate you for a duration extending up to three years. With such serious implications hanging in the balance, it’s paramount to have a formidable defense in your corner.

At Inland Empire Defense, our seasoned Ontario PC 16590 attorney has carved out a reputation for success in defending numerous individuals ensnared in firearm-related charges under PC 16590. Tapping into a rich vein of expertise and jurisprudential authority, we are positioned to provide you with the best defense strategy.

Do not let your future hinge on uncertainties. Avail yourself of seasoned legal expertise by contacting your local Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney at the Inland Empire Defense. Call us at 909-281-0456 to chart your path forward. For those who prefer in-person consultations, we are conveniently situated in Ontario.

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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