A Laguna Niguel man was arrested and charged with Gross Negligent Discharge of a Firearm after he shot a TV in his apartment. According to The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the 67 year old man was arrested after his wife reported that he shot the TV because he did not want her watching it. He was also charged with Felony Vandalism.
Penal Code Section 246.3, Gross Negligent Discharge of Firearm, is defined as the willful firing of a gun in a grossly negligent manner that could result in death or injury to a person. To be convicted of PC 246.3, the prosecution must prove all three of the following elements:
1. That you willfully fired a gun or BB device;
2. That it was done in a grossly negligent manner; and
3. That the discharge of the gun could have resulted in injury or death to a person.
Grossly negligent manner is defined as, acting in a reckless way that: 1) creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury; 2) demonstrates a disregard for human life or an indifference to the consequences; and 3) is such that a reasonable person would have recognized the nature of the risk.
PC 246.3 can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony and can subject you to serious consequences, including possible prison time. However, a good criminal defense attorney will be familiar with the variety of legal defenses associated with this crime. Below are some of the more common legal defenses to PC 246.3:
1. Self-defense/defense of another;
2. You were not aware that the gun was loaded; and
3. There was no risk of injury or death;
As noted above, PC 246.3 can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the circumstances of the incident and your criminal history. If you are convicted of gross negligent discharge of a firearm, the following are possible penalties and punishments you could be facing:
Misdemeanor Conviction of PC 246.3: Up to one year in County Jail and a maximum $1,000.00 fine;
Felony Conviction of PC 246.3: 16 months or, two or three years in State Prison and a maximum $1,000.00 fine.
In addition to the above penalties, if convicted, you lose your right to own or acquire any firearms. A felony conviction prohibits you from owning a firearm for life and a misdemeanor prohibits ownership for 10 years.
It is important to note that in California, a felony conviction of Gross Negligent Discharge of a Firearm is a Strike under the Three Strikes Law. if convicted, and you are later convicted of another felony and then a third, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
Anyone who is facing charges of PC 246.3 should immediately seek the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will pursue all defenses to reduce the chances of a felony conviction to avoid a strike on their record.