Under Penal Code § 30600
Possession of an assault weapon may be charged under PC § 30600 as well as Possession of a Deadly Weapon under PC § 16590. Assault weapons that fall under this statute include a list of over 70 firearms made up of various semiautomatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns specified in Penal Code § 30510. (For a complete list, please see the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California website at http://www.ag.ca.gov/firearms/dwcl/12275.php)
As is the case with Possession of a Deadly Weapon, under this section the prosecution must prove that the weapon was on your person or under your control. This will be a relatively low burden however the same evidentiary attacks will be available as well under this section if law enforcement did not comply with the Fourth Amendment guidelines in seizing the assault weapon as mentioned above.
There will be an additional defense under this section not available under Penal Code § 16590. Penal Code § 30600 requires that the defendant know or reasonably should know that the characteristics of the gun bring it under the prohibitory scope of this section. Thus, while it may be difficult for a gun owner to convince a court they were not aware of the illegality of the possession of an unregistered AK-47 or UZI, given their infamous notoriety, it might be entirely plausible that a defendant did not know nor have reason to know that an Encom MP-9 would have the requirements that would bring it within the Assault Weapon California registration requirements. Therefore, without such knowledge they could not be properly convicted under PC § 30600.
An offense for possession under this section is a “wobbler” in that it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and may carry a punishment of a fine of $500 and up to 1 year in county jail or 3 years in state prison. If one is arrested and charged for the sale of an assault weapon rather than mere possession, it will always be charged as a felony and the court may sentence an individual to 4, 6, or up to 8 years in prison. Given the severity of sentencing of the sale of assault weapons and the leniency afforded to the court in punishing a first time offender for possession, it is imperative that you contact an experienced San Diego weapons lawyer as soon as you are arrested and charged under this section. The more time your attorney has prior to the initiation of criminal proceedings, the better they can investigate your case and effectively negotiate with prosecution to reduce the charges to mere misdemeanor possession of a firearm under PC § 30600 or possibly have the charges dropped all together for lack of the requisite knowledge under this section.