The New Year, the Fourth of July and other holidays might provide an opportunity for a little celebration, but celebrations should never include firearms. Celebrating the holidays with a firearm might trigger sanctions for firearms violations in Ventura County. Negligent discharge of a firearm, described in California Penal Code Section 246.3, can result in an incarceration in a county jail for up to one year.

The Penal Code defines negligent discharge of a firearm as the willful discharge of a firearm “in a grossly negligent manner which could result in injury or death to a person.” Celebratory gunfire would fall under this statute, if the prosecutor can prove that a defendant’s actions meet the legal definition of gross negligence. In California, juries are instructed to use the following definition when determining whether a defendant’s actions can be considered “grossly” negligent.

“A person acts with gross negligence when: [1] He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury. AND [2] A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.”

The prosecutor is not required to prove that personal injury or death did occur as the result of the firearm discharge, but instead, only that the defendant’s actions created a high risk of death or injury. If the firearm discharge occurs in an area that is occupied by other people, or where other people are in close proximity (such as at a party, or in a populated area), the prosecutor can easily meet this burden. If, in the worst case, the negligent discharge of a firearm did result in personal injury or death, and the shooter is identified, far more serious felony charges would be applied.

Firearms violations in California are serious, and people who are facing firearms violations need the help of a competent California criminal defense attorney. Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense attorney in Ventura County, and has successfully defended clients facing California criminal charges for 30 years. Mr. Helfend provides aggressive criminal defense in Ventura County. For a consultation on your case involving negligent discharge of a firearm, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend toll-free at (800) 834-6434 or locally at (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317, or (818) 591-2809. Robert M. Helfend is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you!

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