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California Discharging a Firearm Law & Defense

California Penal Code Section 246 & 247

The crime of discharging a firearm is found at California penal code sections 246 and 247.

There are a few different discharging a firearm crimes under different penal code sections. Each different crime deals with a slighty different set of facts.

For example, PC 246.3(a) is charged as discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, whereas PC 246.3(b) is charged as discharging a BB gun in a grossly negligent manner. The different charges carry different sentences and penalties.

This article deals mostly with PC 246, which is charged as purposefully discharging a firearm in a house, vehicle, or aircraft, but we have included some information on other discharging a firearm crimes at the end of this article.

The law of PC 246

To prove that the defendant is guilty of discharging a firearm under PC 246, the district attorney must prove that defendant:

  • Discharged a firearm into either a house, an occupied building, a vehicle, or an aircraft
  • When the defendant discharged the firearm he or she did so willfully or on purpose

Sentence & Penalty for PC 246

PC 246 may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If found guilty of felony PC 246, the defendant may face up to seven years in prison; if found guilty of misdemeanor PC 246, the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail.

Whether the district attorney files felony or misdemeanor charges of discharing a firearm depends on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Felony PC 246 is consider a strike under California's Three Strikes Law. Felony PC 246 is also considered a serious crime in California under PC 1192.7, which means that plea bargain options are limited.

Both felony and misdemeanor PC 246 charges are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which means that if the defendant is found guilty of a discharging a firearm crime he or she will suffer severe negative consequences with professioal licensing and federal immigration issues.

In addition to any possible jail or prison sentence, if the defendant is found guilty of PC 246, he or she may also be subjected to civil lawsuits, fines, restraining orders, restitution, and other punishments.

In some cases it may be possible to have the criminal charges dismissed or reduced depending on the circumstances of the evidence and the defendant's criminal history. Probation sentences and alternatives to jail may also be possilbe.

Note: Alternative to jail might include work release, electronic monitoring, anger management classes, etc.

Defense to PC 246 Crimes

Common defenses to charges of discharging a firearm include: accidental discharge (simple negligence, not gross negligence), statute of limitations, mistake of fact (believing the gun to be unloaded), coerced confession, self-defense, defense of other people, intoxication, and more.

If you have been charged with discharging a firearm into an inhabited dwelling, vehicle, or occupied building, under California penal code 246, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. Call today!


Crimes related to PC 246 include:

  • Shooting at an unoccupied dwelling, building, vehicle, or airplane PC 246 (up to seven year sentence in the state prison as a felony or up to one year sentence in the county jail as a misdemeanor)
  • Dischage a firearm in a gross negligent manner PC 246.3(a) (up to three year sentence in state prison as a felony and up to one year county jail sentence as a misdemeanor)
  • Discharge firearm at unoccupied aircraft PC 247(a) (up to three year sentence in state prion as a felony)
  • Discharge firearm at unoccupied vehicle or building PC 247(b) (up to three year sentence in state prison as a felony or up to a one year sentence in the county jail as a misdemeanor)

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California Discharge of Firearm Law & Defense PC 246, 246.3(a), & 247


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