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Stun Gun and Tasers Law

Review of California Penal Code 22610 PC

Stun guns and tasers share the same purpose: to immobilize a target via “non-fatal” means. Though these two weapons are often thought to be the same, there is, in fact, a notable difference between them in terms of how each accomplishes the task at hand.

Stun Gun and Tasers Law – Penal Code 22610 PC
Penal Code 22610 regulates who can legally carry stun guns and tasers and where they are not allowed.

Stun guns require direct, immediate contact, while tasers shoot electrified darts, which allow them to be used from a distance. Though these two weapons are often considered “safer” substitutes for firearms, extreme caution should nevertheless be exercised when using them, as they can inflict serious injury upon a victim.

These weapons ideally serve to subdue a target via non-lethal means; their goal is to safeguard against the possibility of inflicting lethal force. However, this isn't always a guarantee, and in many instances, these weapons can inflict fatal injuries, just as with firearms.

California Penal Code 22610 PC states in part: “anyone may purchase, possess, or use a stun gun, subject to the following requirements: (a) Nobody convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault, or convicted of misuse of a stun gun under Section 244.5, shall purchase, possess, or use any stun gun. (b) Nobody addicted to any narcotic drug shall possess or use a stun gun. (c) (1) Nobody shall sell or furnish any stun gun to a minor unless they are at least 16 years of age and has the written consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian.”

First-time violations of this statute are an infraction that carries a fine. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review this topic further below.

Are Stun Guns and Tasers Legal in California?

Mostly. Under Penal Code 22610 PC, it is legal for most California residents to own, use, or buy a stun gun or taser for lawful self-defense apart from:

  • convicted felons;
  • individuals found guilty of assault;
  • individuals previously convicted of stun-gun misuse;
  • individuals addicted to narcotics;
  • minors under the age of 16 years old.

Individuals at least 16 years old can purchase and use a stun gun/taser with written parental consent. There are certain places where persons legally carrying stun guns and tasers are still not allowed. These include:

  • meetings where it is required by law to allow attendance by members of the general public;
  • government or state buildings;
  • schools or any school property;
  • airports, past TSA checkpoints;
  • secured passenger terminals in port/harbor facilities.

It usually qualifies as a misdemeanor offense when individuals violate the above limitations.

What are the Potential Penalties for Penal Code 22610 PC?

The use, possession, or purchase of a stun gun or taser is considered a crime in instances where the individual has prior convictions. This includes persons found guilty of a felony, any crime involving assault, or the previous misuse of a stun gun/taser.

Additionally, it should be said that the legal use of these weapons is intended for situations requiring self-defense; a person cannot simply assault others with a stun gun/taser without facing legal consequences.  These consequences can include:

  • a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, or
  • a felony conviction accompanied by a jail or prison sentence of up to 3 years, along with up to a $10,000 fine.

In situations where the individual is a first-time offender found to have violated PC 22610, they are charged with an infraction and must pay a $50 fine. Subsequent violations are charged as misdemeanors.

 What Are the Related Crimes?

A violation of the State's BB gun laws most often results in a fine, while a person charged with violating PC 12556 imitation firearms may be charged with a misdemeanor. PC21810 is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

What Defenses are Available for PC 22610?

Several defenses can be available when facing a criminal charge of illegally possessing or using a stun gun or taser. The defense that applies to your case depends on the facts and circumstances of the incident and who is involved. The most often-used defenses are discussed below.

Defenses for Carry Stun Guns and Tasers
Thee are several common legal defenses for allegations of unlawfully carrying a stun gun or taser.

The individual has no prior convictions: The use, possession, or purchase of a stun gun or taser by individuals with previous convictions is a crime. This includes anyone found guilty of a felony, a crime involving assault, or the prior misuse of a stun gun/taser.

The individual unable to legally possess a stun gun/taser due to any of the formerly listed reasons above is not the actual owner of the weapon in question. This defense applies when the stun gun/taser is alleged to have belonged to someone other than the person with charges brought against them.

Illegal searches or seizures were conducted. Proving evidence that was obtained illegally—either due to a lack of a necessary search warrant or because it does not fall within a search warrant's parameters—may be used as a defense.

The court could decide to suppress illegally obtained evidence upon the legal motion of the defense. If evidence is suppressed, it often leads to a dismissal of the charges.

The top-ranked Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm of Eisner Gorin LLP provides legal representation for people throughout Southern California. To contact us for an initial case review, call (310) 328-3776, or fill out the contact form.

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