What is the Bail Amount for Gun Charges in California?

how much is bail for a gun charge

What is the Bail Amount for Gun Charges in California?

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a gun-related crime in California, one of the first things you probably want to know is – how much is bail going to be? As frightening as it is to be facing criminal charges, the idea of sitting in jail for months while your case makes its way through the courts is equally daunting.

At Kolacia Law, we know how bail works in California courts and what factors judges consider when setting bail amounts. For gun charges specifically, bail can range from a few thousand dollars for misdemeanors to over $100,000 for serious felonies involving firearms. In this article, we’ll break down the typical bail amounts for different gun crimes so you know what to expect.

Factors That Determine Bail for Gun Charges

In California, judges have wide discretion when it comes to setting bail amounts. However, there are certain factors they generally take into account:

Type and Severity of Gun Charge

The severity of the gun crime you’re charged with is the primary factor that will determine your bail amount. Misdemeanor crimes will have much lower bail than serious felony charges. As you’ll see below, something like possessing an unregistered firearm, may have bail set between $5,000 to $10,000. But if you’re accused of a violent felony committed with a gun, bail can easily exceed $100,000.

Criminal History

Judges will also look at your past criminal record when setting bail. If you have prior convictions or outstanding warrants, the judge will consider you a higher risk and will impose a higher bail amount. Even old charges that never resulted in a conviction may impact the judge’s view of your trustworthiness.

Safety Risk to the Public

The judge will think about the safety of the community at large when setting your bail. If the gun charge involves violence, gang activity, or a threat to public safety, the judge will likely impose a higher bail to keep you detained pre-trial.

Flight Risk

Lastly, the judge has to evaluate if you pose a flight risk and may fail to show up for future court dates. Factors like your ties to the community, employment, financial resources, and prior failures to appear all go into assessing flight risk. Defendants seen as potential flight risks often get higher bail amounts.


Bail for Misdemeanor Gun Charges

For misdemeanor offenses involving firearms, bail typically ranges from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. Some common misdemeanor gun crimes and their associated bail amounts include:

Possession of an Unregistered Firearm

In California, all firearms sales must go through a licensed dealer under trackable circumstances. Simply possessing a gun that isn’t registered in the state databases is a misdemeanor offense under PC 29180. Bail for possession of an unregistered firearm is usually $5,000 to $10,000.

Brandishing a Firearm

Brandishing a weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner under PC 417 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Bail for brandishing cases often starts around $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the circumstances. Brandishing a firearm in the presence of a police officer will warrant the higher end of that range.

Negligent Discharge of a Firearm

Discharging a gun through negligence or carelessness is a misdemeanor under PC 246.3. Bail for negligently firing a weapon starts around $25,000 to $50,000. Discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner in a public place can be charged as a felony, however, with bail exceeding $100k.
As you can see, even misdemeanor gun charges warrant relatively high bail amounts compared to other misdemeanors like DUIs or petty theft. Prosecutors and judges take firearms offenses very seriously in setting bail due to public safety concerns.


Bail for Felony Gun Charges

When it comes to felony gun crimes, bail amounts shoot up even higher. Many serious felonies start at $50,000 to $100,000 for bail and only go up from there. Some examples of felony gun crimes and their typical bail amounts:

Possession of an Assault Weapon

Under PC 30600, it is illegal in California to possess assault rifles like AK-47s or AR-15s. Bail for possession of an assault weapon starts around $50,000 to $100,000. Supplying, selling, or manufacturing assault weapons warrants bail near the top of that range.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm

It is illegal under PC 29800 for convicted felons and certain misdemeanants to possess any firearm. Bail for prohibited persons caught possessing guns generally starts at $75,000 to $100,000. Those caught with assault rifles may have bail set closer to $250,000.

Discharging a Firearm Causing Injury

Discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury or death under PC 246 can be charged as a felony with substantial prison time. Bail in these cases is typically set at $100,000+ depending on the extent of injury and circumstances of the case. The more victims injured, the higher the bail amount.
As you can see, bail for felony gun crimes starts high and goes higher depending on the severity of the charges. Gang enhancements, prior strikes, or other aggravating factors will also serve to increase bail even more.


Bail Enhancements for Gun Crimes

On top of the bail for the primary gun offense, prosecutors will often add bail “enhancements” to increase the total bail amount in certain scenarios:

Gang Enhancements

If the gun crime had any gang involvement, prosecutors can add a gang enhancement under PC 186.22(b)(1), which adds an extra $50,000 to $100,000 bail. Gang members caught carrying guns often face total bail exceeding $200,000 as a result.

Prior Strikes or Violent Offenses

The judge will look at your criminal history to see if you have any prior “strikes” on your record from serious or violent offenses. Each prior strike adds substantial bail according to California’s Three Strikes law. Having multiple strikes can ratchet bail up over $500,000.

Use of a Firearm in Commission of Violent Crime

Using a gun while committing a violent felony like robbery or assault brings a 10-20-year sentence enhancement under PC 12022.5 and PC 12022.53. The bail amount is also enhanced substantially when a gun is involved in the commission of a violent crime.


Options for Lowering Bail

Facing $100,000 or more in bail can feel completely out of reach for many defendants. But there are a few options for getting the bail amount reduced or putting up collateral other than cash:

Using a Bail Bondsman

A bail bondsman is a third-party person who will post the full bail amount for you for a 10% fee. This allows you to pay just 10% of the total bail to get out of jail pre-trial. Bondsmen may also allow you to make payments over time rather than pay the full 10% upfront.

Request a Bail Hearing

You have the right to a bail hearing where your weapons charges lawyer can argue for a reduced bail amount before the judge. An experienced criminal lawyer may be able to get your bail lowered by highlighting factors like your minimal criminal history, strong family ties, steady employment, and enrollment in counseling or addiction treatment.

Use Property as Collateral

Instead of paying the full bail amount in cash, it may be possible to use real property you own as collateral for bail. This would involve signing a deed of trust, putting your home or land up as security for the full bail amount. If you fail to appear in court, the property could be seized and sold.


Get Aggressive Defense for Weapons Charges in California

Getting arrested for any crime is a frightening experience. Being accused of an illegal gun offense can make it feel like the odds are completely stacked against you. But an experienced California gun crimes defense attorney can advise you of your rights, represent you in negotiations with prosecutors, and potentially get your bail reduced so you can fight your case from outside the confines of jail.
Every gun charge case is different, but we hope this overview has prepared you for what to generally expect when it comes to bail amounts for firearm offenses in California. The severity of the charges, your criminal record, and any enhancing factors will dictate your precise bail amount. But the ranges provided here should give you an idea of where bail starts for different misdemeanor and felony gun crimes.
If you or someone you care about is facing gun charges, don’t leave freedom to chance. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.


Author Bio

Daniel Kolacia is the CEO and Managing Partner of Kolacia Law Firm, a Rancho Cucamonga, CA, criminal defense law firm. As a former prosecutor with more than 15 years of experience in criminal defense, he is knowledgeable about both sides of the courtroom, an advantage he uses to help defend his clients. He has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including white-collar crimes, misdemeanors, felonies, traffic cases, and other criminal charges.

Daniel received his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law and is a member of the California Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has worked on several high-profile cases featured on Dateline, CNBC, Los Angeles Times, and various local publications.

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