Possession of an Assault Weapon in California – CA 30605 and Defenses

Possession of an Assault Weapon in California – CA 30605 and Defenses

Penal Code section 30605 provides that any person who, within the state of California, possesses any assault weapon is guilty of a crime. (Pen. Code, § 30605.)

This offense is a “wobbler”, meaning that it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a person convicted of possessing an assault weapon under this statute faces up to one year in the county jail. If convicted of a felony violation of Penal Code section 30605, a defendant faces 16 months or two (2) or three (3) years in the county jail or state prison.

However, if person charged with this offense has previously registered the assault weapon pursuant to Penal Code section 30945, and this is the first time that they have been convicted of this offense, they only face a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) if they also meet all of the following conditions:

  1. The person proves that he or she lawfully possessed the assault weapon prior to the date it was defined as an assault weapon.
  2. The person has not previously been convicted of a violation of this article.
  3. The person was found to be in possession of the assault weapon within one year following the end of the one-year registration period established pursuant to Section 30900.
  4. The person relinquished the firearm pursuant to Section 31100, in which case the assault weapon shall be destroyed pursuant to Sections 18000 and 18005.

(Pen. Code, § 30605, subd. (b).)

What is an Assault Weapon? California Definition

California law determines whether or not a firearm is deemed to be an “assault weapon” in two ways: by specifically listing certain prohibited firearms, and by describing the characteristics of all other firearms that would make it an assault weapon.

If a firearm is either specifically listed or has the defined characteristics, then it is deemed to be an assault weapon under California law.

Specifically Listed Firearms

Penal Code section 30510 lists specific firearms that are considered to be assault weapons in California. This section provides, “As used in this chapter and in Sections 16780, 17000, and 27555, ‘assault weapon’ means the following designated semiautomatic firearms:

  1. All of the following specified rifles:
    1. All AK series including, but not limited to, the models identified as follows:
      1. Made in China AK, AKM, AKS, AK47, AK47S, 56, 56S, 84S, and 86S.
      2. Norinco 56, 56S, 84S, and 86S.
      3. Poly Technologies AKS and AK47.
      4. MAADI AK47 and ARM.
    2. UZI and Galil.
    3. Beretta AR-70.
    4. CETME Sporter.
    5. Colt AR-15 series.
    6. Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max 1, Max 2, AR 100, and AR 110C.
    7. Fabrique Nationale FAL, LAR, FNC, 308 Match, and Sporter.
    8. MAS 223.
    9. HK-91, HK-93, HK-94, and HK-PSG-1.
    10. The following MAC types:
      1. RPB Industries Inc. sM10 and sM11.
      2. SWD Incorporated M11.
    11. SKS with detachable magazine.
    12. SIG AMT, PE-57, SG 550, and SG 551.
    13. Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48.
    14. Sterling MK-6.
    15. Steyer AUG.
    16. Valmet M62S, M71S, and M78S.
    17. Armalite AR-180.
    18. Bushmaster Assault Rifle.
    19. Calico M-900.
    20. J&R ENG M-68.
    21. Weaver Arms Nighthawk.
  2. All of the following specified pistols:
    1. UZI.
    2. Encom MP-9 and MP-45.
    3. The following MAC types:
      1. RPB Industries Inc. sM10 and sM11.
      2. SWD Incorporated M-11.
      3. Advance Armament Inc. M-11.
      4. Military Armament Corp. Ingram M-11.
    4. Intratec TEC-9.
    5. Sites Spectre.
    6. Sterling MK-7.
    7. Calico M-950.
    8. Bushmaster Pistol.
  3. All of the following specified shotguns:
    1. Franchi SPAS 12 and LAW 12.
    2. Striker 12.
    3. The Streetsweeper type S/S Inc. SS/12.
  4. Any firearm declared to be an assault weapon by the court pursuant to former Section 12276.5, as it read in Section 3 of Chapter 19 of the Statutes of 1989, Section 1 of Chapter 874 of the Statutes of 1990, or Section 3 of Chapter 954 of the Statutes of 1991, which is specified as an assault weapon in a list promulgated pursuant to former Section 12276.5, as it read in Section 3 of Chapter 954 of the Statutes of 1991.
  5. This section is declaratory of existing law and a clarification of the law and the Legislature's intent which bans the weapons enumerated in this section, the weapons included in the list promulgated by the Attorney General pursuant to former Section 12276.5, as it read in Section 3 of Chapter 954 of the Statutes of 1991, and any other models that are only variations of those weapons with minor differences, regardless of the manufacturer. The Legislature has defined assault weapons as the types, series, and models listed in this section because it was the most effective way to identify and restrict a specific class of semiautomatic weapons.
  6. As used in this section, “series” includes all other models that are only variations, with minor differences, of those models listed in subdivision (a), regardless of the manufacturer.

(Pen. Code, § 30510.)

Characteristics that Make a Firearm an Assault Weapon

Even if a firearm is not specifically listed in Penal Code section 30510, it may nevertheless still be considered to be an assault weapon under California law if it has certain characteristics. CA Penal Code section 30515 describes these characteristics as follows:

  1. Notwithstanding Section 30510, “assault weapon” also means any of the following:
    1. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:
      1. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
      2. A thumbhole stock.
      3. A folding or telescoping stock.
      4. A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
      5. A flash suppressor.
      6. A forward pistol grip.
    2. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
    3. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.
    4. A semiautomatic pistol that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one of the following:
      1. A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer.
      2. A second handgrip.
      3. A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning the bearer's hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel.
      4. The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
    5. A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
    6. A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
      1. A folding or telescoping stock.
      2. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip.
    7. A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
    8. Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

(Pen. Code, § 30515.)

Facing criminal charges related to an Assault Weapon in Contra Costa, Alameda, or other Northern California County? At Tully-Weiss we are experienced firearms lawyers with a remarkable record of trial victories.

There is always a defense but you should act quickly to preserve your rights – the District Attorney is already preparing a case against you and a quick and proactive defense is always your best option. Call us for a no-obligation legal consultation to learn your options.

Email us or give us a call:
Contra Costa 925.229.9700 | Alameda 510.269.9227 | North Cal 530.776.0840

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