I. PC 171b: Unauthorized Possession of Weapons in Public Buildings and Meetings
Legal Definition: “(a) Any person who brings or possesses within any state or local public building or at any meeting required to be open to the public pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 54950) of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of, or Article 9 (commencing with Section 11120) of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of, the Government Code, any of the following is guilty of a public offense punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or in the state prison:
(1) Any firearm.
(2) Any deadly weapon described in Section 17235 or in any provision listed in Section 16590.
(3) Any knife with a blade length in excess of four inches, the blade of which is fixed or is capable of being fixed in an unguarded position by the use of one or two hands.
(4) Any unauthorized tear gas weapon.
(5) Any taser or stun gun, as defined in Section 244.5.
(6) Any instrument that expels a metallic projectile, such as a BB or pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun or paint gun.”
To be found guilty under PC 171b the prosecution must prove that you:
- You possessed a weapon;
- You brought that weapon into a public place or meeting that is open to the public.
II. What does this mean?
Some of the weapons that are included in this would be a firearm, a knife (with a blade length over four inches), tear gas, a taster, or a pellet gun. These weapons exclusions do not apply to all people though. For example, it does not apply to police officers, those that are transporting weapons into court for evidence in a case, a person who holds a valid license to carry a firearm, and a person who has permission to possess the weapons and is also in charge of securing the public building.
A public building is any building that is owned or leased by the local or state government. The public building also must be one that is regularly used by employees who are presently performing their official duties. An example of this would be a Courthouse, or town hall meeting, or a DMV office.
A violation under PC 171b is a wobbler offense in California. This means you can be charged with this section as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense. Whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor is based on your criminal history and the specific facts of your case. If you are convicted of this charged as a felony, you could be sentenced to State Prison for up to 16 months, 2, or 3 years. If you are convicted of this section as a misdemeanor you could be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. You would have to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You would also lose the firearm or weapon, and also be subject to possible stay away orders from the public building in the future.
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 could face Deportation in Immigration Court since this crime may be considered an aggravated felony with the use of a firearm.
IV. Common Defenses
If you are able to show that you fall within an excepted party above, then that would apply as a viable defense to your case. In another circumstance, if the “weapon” you possess is not outlined above, then you also cannot be found guilty of this charge. In these situations, your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney can argue that there is insufficient evidence to convict you of this charge.
Also, if police act in violation of your rights, your attorney can argue that the police did an illegal search and seizure, and evidence of the weapon found would be suppressed, meaning it could not come into court and be used against you. You may have had the illegal weapon in a public building, but if police were to detain and arrest you without a warrant, probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion of a crime, then your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney can successfully argue that it was an illegal search and seizure, and evidence of the illegal bullets in your home would be thrown out of Court.
V. Call Today
A conviction under this section can have a devastating aspect on your life. You are likely looking at significant custody time, given that the fear that public employees could be in danger is heavily prosecuted by the Prosecutor’s Office. As well as that, a felony conviction can lead to deportation, loss of a firearm, and voting rights. Our Ontario PC 171b attorney has successfully defended and is well versed in gun law cases including PC 171b cases in Ontario. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.