Burn & Explosion Injuries In The North Bay

Burn injuries are among the most painful, serious injuries anyone can endure. Victims usually need skin grafts and plastic surgery, and live with the risk of fatal infections for extended periods of time after the accident. Even after they are released from a burn unit at the hospital, burn victims experience long-term effects from burns. They often have inoperable scarring and disfigurement, cannot stay in the sun and experience a higher incidence of skin cancer. These injuries are devastating.

Industrial plant explosions, construction site accidents, and other dangerous premises where explosions or fires occurred account for the majority of serious burn and explosion injuries. The worst of these injuries can require extensive reconstructive surgery. An electrocution accident can result in severe burns and permanent nerve damage. Burn injuries arising from explosions and fires can result in expensive medical bills, missed time from work and lengthy, painful recovery times.

What can make these dangerous, painful injuries so hard to deal with is that the majority of burn injuries are caused by the negligence of others.

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Common causes are:

Defective and malfunctioning machinery
Unsafe workplace conditions
Failure to store chemicals property
OSHA violations
Failure to train staff properly in handling of flammable materials
Defective ovens, stoves or other commonly used home or camping devices

Our burn and explosion injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael A. Fiumara can assist in building a strong case to help you seek restitution from those negligent parties or manufacturers of defective products, that contributed to or are responsible for your injuries.

Rehabilitation can be a long, expensive process, and if it is found that another party’s negligence resulted in your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a burn or explosion injury, The Law Offices Of Michael A. Fiumara can help.

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If you or a loved one needs assistance, contact us today for a free consultation of your case at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507.

Motorcycle Accidents In The North Bay

Motorcyclists across the state of California know that a motorcycle offers an incomparable, thrilling travel experience and is a remarkable way to view the beautiful scenery and sights of the Golden State.

However, despite the extraordinary experience a motorcycle provides, these vehicles require skilled, responsible handling and defensive driving in order to avoid a serious accident.

Risks of Riding a Motorcycle

Motorcycle accidents throughout the North Bay occur for a variety of reasons. These causes can be due to an at-fault driver, the motorcyclist himself, or factors only in the control of the government entity who manages the road or the manufacturer of the motorcycle.

These factors include:

Road design that falls below safety standards or design that has grown obsolete and outmoded due to current highway usage statistics,

Poor road conditions or negligent maintenance of the road,

Mechanical failures on the motorcycle,

A driver of another car or motor vehicle being negligent or careless,

High speed motorcycle accidents due to wheel wobble,

Negligent motorcycle design creating a defective vehicle,

Shoddy or poor repair work done by a mechanic on your motorcycle

Recent statistics show that the vast majority of multiple-vehicle traffic accidents involving motorcycles—over 80% in fact—are not the motorcyclist’s fault. Most often, the motorcycle accident is caused by a negligent or inattentive driver who either does not notice or see the motorcyclist until it is too late, or a car driver who turns either directly in front of the motorcycle in a left hand turn or who follows the biker on his hog too closely and then runs into the rear of the bike.

Unfortunately, motorcyclists are at the mercy of these careless drivers due to the speed at which the motorcycle travels and the minimal protection riders have if there is a crash. Due to the lack of physical and safety protections, most motorcycle accidents are catastrophic and can result in brain injury, paralyzing spinal injuries, or death.

The biggest mistake injured motorcyclists make is thinking that a motorcycle accident claim is just like an auto accident claim and any lawyer can handle their case.

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Benefits of Pursuing a Motorcycle Accident Claim

Due to the lack of protection a motorcycle offers, the likelihood of a motorcyclist enduring critical injuries, which may perhaps be life-threatening, is extremely high. Common injuries in a California motorcycle accident include: brain injury, spinal cord injuries, abrasions, disfigurement, fractures, and neck and back injuries.

Such severe injuries will likely require an extensive recovery time, which can mean the injured rider is unable to work and will be losing wages. The medical care and treatment needed for the rider to heal can also be costly, as well as the costs of repairing property damage.

With the expensive financial costs that can arise following a motorcycle accident, a rider would be well-advised to speak with a qualified motorcycle crash attorney to possibly pursue a motorcycle accident claim.

Compensation from the at-fault party can help with the unexpected accident-related costs and will help alleviate financial stresses so you can focus on the healing process.

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What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?

The post-accident related expenses a rider can incur can be quite costly, but a motorcyclist can receive several different types of compensation to lessen the financial burden. The purpose of this compensation is to aid the motorcyclist in rebuilding their life and moving towards the life the rider had before the collision.

The first type of compensation that can be awarded is economic damages, which are easily calculated from documents and records. This can include compensation for lost wages (past and future), medical bills and expenses, and property damage. Non-economic damages are compensation for the injured party’s pain and suffering, such as mental suffering as a result of the accident or emotional distress.

The financial strain of a motorcycle accident can feel overwhelming, but an accident attorney can get the money you need to recover.

Rebuilding Your Life after a Collision

The impact a motorcycle accident can have on a person’s life can be very serious, and getting back to the life he or she loves can take a great deal of time and patience.

The Law Offices Of Michael A. Fiumara recognize the tremendous obstacles a rider may face following an accident and are dedicated to obtaining the compensation needed to get them back on their feet and back on the road.

Our legal team has years of experience helping injured Californians, which has earned us a successful track record of successful results. A motorcycle accident is difficult enough, but with our professional assistance, recovery does not have to be.

Contact us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 today for your free case evaluation.

“The Right Attorney Makes All The Difference” 

Balcony Collapse In Berkeley Did Not Have To Happen

A fourth floor balcony of a luxury apartment building collapsed just before 12:40 a.m. on Tuesday in downtown Berkeley, sending 13 people falling 40 feet to the sidewalk below. The balcony collapse killed six people, and critically injured seven others.

The young people were at the Library Gardens apartment complex celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday, according to the authorities.

Every year hundreds of individuals suffer severe injuries and death resulting from collapsing balconies and porches. All too often such collapses are wholly the result on negligent and wrongful actions of individuals charges with the proper care and upkeep of the property.

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COMMON CAUSES OF BALCONY COLLAPSE

Common causes of collapsing balconies can include, failure to properly construct the balcony, failure to provide for its proper and routine maintenance, overcrowding of the platform resulting in excess weight which cannot be supported by the structure, and failure to inspect for and replace loose joints and screws.

Common Injuries: Some of the most common injuries associated with falling and collapsing balconies include the following…

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Facial and bodily lacerations
  • Broken bones and cracked ribs
  • Ocular injuries resulting in the loss of eyesight
  • Death

WINNING YOUR CASE – PREMISES LIABILITY CAUSE OF ACTION FOR A COLLAPSING BALCONY OR PORCH

The vast majority or personal injury cases are predicated on a negligence cause of action which required the proving four significant elements. The elements are provided below.

1. The at-fault party owes a duty to the injured party.

2. The at- fault party was in breach of his/her duty to the injured party.

3. Causation – the breach of the duty was the foreseeable and “but-for” cause of action. “But-for” states as “But for the action or inaction of the liable party the harm suffered by the victims would not have taken place”.

4. Injuries – there are actual and presentable injuries suffered by the injured party.

ESTABLISHING LIABILITY AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS AND OPERATOR

Building owners owe a certain ‘duty of care’ to those individuals who come onto their property whether they are invitees, licensees, guests and sometimes even to trespassers.  The level of the ‘duty of care’ is determined by the relationship of the property owner to the individual entering the property.

Invitees who enter a property for a business transaction (i.e. purchase of a product) are owed the highest duty of care and must be protected from any known and foreseeable  harm on the property.   Property owners even owe invitees a duty to properly and routinely inspect their property for harm and warn entrants of any potential harms on their property.  California has blurred these distinctions over the years so you should seek an attorney who can explain these nuances of the law to you in simple and understandable English with examples.

COMPENSATION AVAILABLE FOR VICTIMS OF PERSONAL INJURY

Victims of personal injury are entitled to compensation for all harms suffered. The specific types of injuries and damages in personal injury causes of action include:

  • All medical and hospitalization costs including past and future rehabilitation care.
  • Economic damages – including damage to property, loss of income, and future loss of earnings potential.
  • Non-economic damages – including pain and suffering, emotional trauma and mental anguish.

Attorney Michael A. Fiumara has more than 24 Years Of Experience Handling Balcony Collapse & All Other Personal Injury Matters Throughout The North Bay

If you have any further legal questions regarding liability and compensation for injuries caused by falling balconies or decking, feel free to contact our law offices at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free consultation. We have offices located in Santa Rosa and San Rafael for your convenience.

“The Right Attorney Makes All The Difference” 

What To Do After A Hit & Run Accident In The North Bay

Getting into a car accident is frightening and can be life changing. The problems can be exponentially worst if the accident you were involved in was a hit and run. The fact is Hit and run accidents are very common. An amazing number of drivers speed off after colliding with another vehicle.

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If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, what should you do?

1. Assess the need for any medical attention

Make sure that everyone is OK, and doesn’t require any medical attention. Immediately call 911 and do your best to get safe access to the side of the road. It’s very important that you stay calm and wait for the police or paramedics to arrive on the scene.

2. Document everything

You may want to speed after the vehicle that hit you, this isn’t a good idea. The best thing that you can do is pull over and try to document as much information as you can. If you were able to get a license plate number or a partial plate right that down right away before you forget. Try to remember the make, model and color of the vehicle that hit you.

3. Look for witnesses

After you’re in a safe spot start looking around to find potential witnesses. Make sure to take down the name and number of any potential witness on the scene. Ask them to stay long enough to give a police statement if they can.

4. File a police report

When the police arrive make sure to stay calm and explain in as much detail to the officer as you can remember. Keep to the facts and do not apologize or blame yourself even if you think you are at fault in anyway. Do not pressure the officer to chase after theoffending vehicle.  Don’t leave the scene until you’re cleared to do so.

5. Contact your insurance

If you were able to identify the vehicle that hit you then you may be able to persuade their insurance company to pay for your damage and any potential injuries.  Many drivers flee the scene of a hit-and-run accident  because they are either uninsured, unlicensed, have an outstanding warrant, or know that they have some outstanding legal matter pending and don’t want to get caught!

You may be able to get your insurance company to cover your expenses, this is assuming you have purchased adequate protection against uninsured or under-insured drivers. Please check your Insurance’s DECLARATION PAGE to review your coverages.  If you are not sure, we would be happy to help.  If you have inadequate coverage such as MedPay you may be forced to pay for any expenses out of your own pocket. But all is not lost.  If the fleeing hit-and-run suspect is eventually caught then the local District Attorney will file criminal charges and RESTITUTION will be reserved and there is also a VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND which can be tapped for your benefit.  See one of us for details.

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, don’t allow yourself to be a victim,  the experienced team of attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC will help you get the compensation you deserve to restore  you back to where you were prior to this mishap.

Call us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free consultation and find out how we can help you!

We SERVE the entire North Bay and have offices in Santa Rosa and San Rafael, CA.

Swimming Pools & Accidental Drownings In California

A backyard swimming pool is a wonderful opportunity for family exercise and recreation, and a spa is a great way for adults and kids to unwind. Unfortunately, they are also sources of potential danger due to the frequency of accidental drownings in swimming pools and spas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2013 nearly 10,000 people died in the United States due to accidental drownings in swimming pools.

These deaths aren’t evenly spread over different age groups, however — nearly 40% of those fatalities were among children 1 to 4 years of age. Further, the statistics say that for each incident of accidental drownings in swimming pools that is fatal, another ten children end up in hospital emergency rooms with non-fatal problems that can be very serious, including brain injury from oxygen deprivation that can result in permanent brain injury and disability.

There are many good resources available for swimming pool safety such as those from the Centers for Disease Control. Simple and obvious tips such as keeping a close watch on young children in and around swimming pools and avoiding significant intoxication that can lead to drowning in adults who are swimming are included. Studies also show that taking swimming lessons can very significantly reduce young children’s risk of accidental drownings in swimming pools, perhaps by nearly 90%.

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In California, since 2007 all new and remodeled swimming pools and spas in single family residences must also comply with the Swimming Pool Safety Act, sections 115920 through 115929 of the California Health and Safety Code. Among the requirements of the Swimming Pool Safety Act are the installation of some sort of barrier between the home and the pool. There are several options available, including a full enclosure of the pool or spa, removable mesh pool fencing, an approved safety pool cover, exit alarms on building doors leading to the pool area, and/or self-latching, childproof devices on those doors.

If you have lost a child due to a drowning accident, do not wait another minute longer to call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507.

We have dedicated our careers to helping families just like yours get back on their feet after an accident has traumatically altered their life.

We understand that no amount of money will ever bring back your loved one, but we are committed to ensuring that justice is sought and the negligent party is held responsible.

Falling Power Lines & The Dangers Associated With Them

Anybody who is struck by or comes into contact with falling power lines or live electrical wiring is likely to suffer very serious injury, shock, and/or electrocution.  The risk of electrocution can bring life changing consequences or result in wrongful death.  Falling electrical power lines pose a serious threat to the public health and safety of residents.

Therefore, the utility companies such as PG & E in this northern California, governmental agencies, or party who has caused a power line to fall which injures innocent people in California, should be held fully accountable for their lack of care, and due diligence.

Falling power lines often cause a wide range of problems, including pedestrian injuries, car accidents, and many times they start fires and/or explosions.  As a result of these injuries, accidents, and other mishaps, innocent victims often suffer long lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences, something which our team of experienced attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC knows can be extremely challenging.

Fortunately, for those in California who are injured by falling power lines it may be possible to hold all third parties responsible for these accidents, holding them fully accountable for all of the consequences and future long-term adverse effects.

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Injuries That Are Caused By Falling Power Lines

When power lines fall, unsuspecting victims often sustain a wide variety of injuries stemming from minor cuts and scratches to life threatening ones including death and everything in between.  Some of the most common injuries include:

 

  • Facial injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Amputations mostly of the limbs
  • Broken bones and or paralysis
  • Burns and scarring, electrocution
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

Any of these types of injuries can have serious future consequences for injury victims both in the short and long-term.  Oftentimes, they require a great deal of long-term rehabilitative hospitalization and recuperation so don’t let this break the bank. Good medical care is very expensive.

Contact a falling power lines lawyer in California. 

At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we firmly believe in fighting hard for the interest of anyone who has been a victim to a falling power line or live falling wires.  Therefore, if you have been injured by a falling power line, please feel free to call us 24/7 at (855) 247-3190 to learn more about your legal rights and options and how you may be entitled to full compensation for your undue pain and suffering.

We have two convenient locations in the North Bay.  Our Marin County office is located at 404 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200 in San Rafael and you may reach us there at:  (415) 492-4507.

Our Santa Rosa Office located in Sonoma County is located at: 182 Farmers Lane, Suite 100A, Santa Rosa, CA.  Please feel free to contact us there at: (707) 571-8600.

Both offices are centrally located with plenty of easy parking. We take evening and night-time appointments and the consultation is free.

The Side Effects Of Brain & Spinal Injuries

Northern California residents who are involved in a car accident often suffer serious injuries. Car, bus, and motorcycle accidents can lead to life-altering harm, including brain and spinal cord injuries.

It is a tragic reality that many wrecks result in brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury occurs when there is a sudden violent blow to the head. These harms can have many serious side effects, such as falling into a coma, deteriorating to a vegetative state, or being rendered to a minimally conscious state. Victims can also be in a locked-in state where they are awake and aware of their surroundings but can’t speak or move. They may even become totally brain dead.

Other side effects of a brain injury include seizures and brain swelling. Also, cranial nerve damage can occur that may result in paralysis of facial muscles, loss of vision, swallowing problems and other side effects. There are also intellectual and communication problems that can present themselves. Victims who suffer from a brain injury can have memory and reasoning problems, difficulty with speech and writing, suffer from depression, and engage in risky behavior, just to name a few of the plethora of symptoms and side effects.

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Brain injuries are extremely serious and often require years of intensive medical treatment. If a brain injury is caused by a negligent driver, then the victim may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in personal injury.

An attorney can investigate what happened to cause the accident and determine who can be held accountable. Compensation may be available to help cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Though this may not bring back one’s health, it might allow a victim to acquire the medical care he or she needs to live as best of a life as possible under the circumstances.

Contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free case evaluation.

We Are Here To Fight For You!

 

Laws are subject to change and there is no substitution for a personal consultation with a qualified and experienced attorney to discuss the particularities of YOUR potential case!

MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF CALIFORNIA WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS

What actually is a wrongful death claim?

 A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that alleges that the person who was killed or the decedent died as a result of the negligence stemming from a third party or defendant.   The surviving dependents of the decedent  (victim)  and/ or beneficiaries may be entitled to monetary compensation/damages as a result of the defendant’s negligent conduct or behavior.

If you reside in Northern California or anywhere in California and believe that you may have a valid claim for the wrongful death of a family member, friend or relative, please do not hesitate to contact Michael A. Fiumara at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC to speak directly with an experienced Northern California wrongful death attorney about all of the requirements necessary for pursuing a wrongful death claim in California.

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What exactly constitutes a wrongful death claim?

In general, the decedent’s death must be caused in part or in whole, by the behavior or conduct of the defendant or defendants.  The defendant usually needs to be negligent or at fault and that is determined by specially applied rules in certain cases.  Product liability cases may be treated differently than a strict liability related injury case.  In addition, there must be a surviving spouse, child, other legal dependents, or other affected relatives/heirs.  These damages must be related to and arise from the victim’s death.

What kinds of damages can you expect to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit or claim?

Here is a list of the following recoverable damages in a wrongful death lawsuit depending upon your case:

1.            Any medical and funeral expenses related to the decedent’s death.

2.            Loss of the victim’s anticipated future earnings which will be calculated until the time of either retirement or death.

3.            The loss of benefits caused by the victim’s death such as pension and medical coverage.

4.            The loss of what is commonly referred to loss of consortium which constitutes the loss of care, protection, and companionship missed by all of the survivors and beneficiaries.  Under common law, a wife will have the loss of companionship, love and sexual relations and that would be the same for the husband if the wife were killed.

5.            Under certain circumstances, in addition to compensatory damages, juries may add punitive damages to the recovery based upon the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct or behavior.

The above mentioned summaries are not intended to serve as a substitute for the personal and tailored advice of the attorney that you choose to represent you.  There is no substitute for the  direct in person question and answer dialogue which takes place between an attorney and the client.  Specific legal issues, concerns, and conditions also require the advice of appropriate legal professionals and that’s where Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC excels.  We are here to serve you and we fight hard for our clients.

How long will my wrongful death claim take?

Please keep in mind that each case is different and that varies upon its complexity and how much cooperation we receive from the insurance adjustors, attorneys and how long the investigation will take to do an excellent and thorough job.  However, be assured that once our attorneys begin working on a case we communicate  at every step of the way with our clients to help them understand the process.  We will be happy to explain the reason to file a lawsuit sooner rather than later, if that’s the case.  We will let clients know when the defendants are served and when they respond in the discovery process.  There can be a number of settlement negotiations along the way and we communicate with the client to keep him or her abreast at all times.   Mediation and/or arbitration are sometimes considered good alternatives to a  long, protracted and expensive trial but that will depend upon each particular case.  Lastly, some courtrooms are more crowded than others so that could add to the length of the time line.

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Why speak with an experienced attorney?

Within the tragedy of a wrongful death, a family may find some compensation for their loss.  However, those monetary awards can never replace the loss of a loved one, but they can help to ease the burden of continuing on without them.  Oftentimes, wrongful death cases can be very complicated cases to pursue, therefore, a skilled attorney who can compile the necessary evidence and call effective experts and witnesses to testify “can make all the difference” in winning or losing such a lawsuit.  It is incumbent upon you to speak with a local attorney who is experienced in wrongful death claims and gets the compensation that you deserve—“the right attorney makes all the difference”, so please call us for a free consultation 24/7.

Please feel free to contact us at either of our two convenient offices in Northern California for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL consultation in the event one of your family friends, or relatives becomes a victim of a wrongful death claim.

We can be reached 24/7 in Santa Rosa at (707) 571-8600 or in San Rafael at (415)492-4507.

We would be happy to meet with you and your family for a free, confidential consultation at your home, in the hospital on evenings or weekends.  Our motto is that “the right attorney makes all the difference.”

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS PRACTICE AREA: WRONGFUL DEATH

The minute you walk into our law firm in either the Santa Rosa or San Rafael office you will be be treated with respect, compassion and learn how diligently we work on your behalf.  Upon your arrival, you will speak with managing partner, Michael A. Fiumara, who will immediately set up a confidential and convenient appointment at no charge or obligation.

Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC has specialized in wrongful death cases since its founding in 1992.  We focus on the emotional as well as the tough economic issues facing families who are going through some of their most devastating and challenging times.  Our goal is to get your family back on its feet as soon as possible, handling everything from funeral expenses to salary replacement.  We also assist other injured family members with their medical care and other related expenses.

Our lawyers would be happy to meet with you at your home, in the hospital or convalescent center where you are recovering or at any one of our conveniently located offices.  We are also happy to meet with you during the evening or on weekends. The best results are achieved in wrongful death cases by experienced litigators and attorneys who not only possess the necessary skill-set, but who are passionate about representing those who have been seriously injured by no fault of their own.

Successful attorneys are those who are capable at preparing and presenting your case for trial and presenting your case convincingly to a judge, jury or arbitrator.  Fortunately, for the attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we have spent more than forty years in courtrooms throughout Northern California  and the entire North Bay developing a very strong reputation among judges, other attorneys and even adjusters and insurance companies who know that we mean business.

Husband and Wife Funeral Farewell

Our main goal is to diligently assist the survivors and beneficiaries of wrongful death victims to achieve the full compensation that they deserve.  Here is a list of the cases for which we have achieved outstanding results:

 

  1. Car accidents.
  2. All pedestrian and crosswalk accidents.
  3. Bicycle accidents of all kinds.
  4. Motorcycle and other motor vehicle accidents.
  5. Truck and big rig accidents including logging trucks.
  6. Fire/explosions and burns.
  7. Automobile and other manufacturing defects.

We respectfully invite you to call us at (855) 247-3190 or call us directly at either one of our conveniently located offices in  either San Rafael (415) 492-4507 or Santa Rosa at (707) 571-8600. THERE is NO obligation. You pay nothing until we win.

Gun Laws In California-The Facts

Gun Laws/Weapon Charges

GUN LAWS (PENAL CODE SECTIONS 23500-34370)

As most people know, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves the individual’s right to possess firearms:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.

While this language is simple enough, there exists a network of laws in each state regulating the use and possession of firearms, from the size, type and power, to the ammunition, location and access to that firearm. The gun laws in California are among the toughest regulations in the nation.

Many Californians do not understand their legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to gun ownership. Gun ownership and possession is very tightly regulated by the State of California and, as is often the case with the tax code, it is often difficult to know if one is correctly following the law.

The gun laws in California are complex, encompassing hundreds of distinct code sections, some of which carry the potential for severe penalties. It is impossible to review all of the laws regulating the sale, possession, and use of firearms here.

If you find yourself charged with violating any of these statutes, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Michael A. Fiumara is an experienced criminal defense attorney and I will defend your rights under the law. Our firm has seen many cases to a successful conclusion, including those in which a person is charged with violating one of the many gun law statutes in the State of California.

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GUN OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION

Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that a California resident who buys a gun in California must register that gun with the state. In effect, a gun legally purchased in California is already registered in the state’s database since a resident of California can buy a gun only from a licensed dealer (in most cases) and the information about the new gun owner and the gun are added to the state’s database. A new gun purchaser must also pass a written handgun safety test.

There is a ten-day waiting period before possession of a purchased gun may be taken. During this waiting period, the background of the gun purchaser is checked through the state database in order to make sure that person is legally entitled to possess a gun under the laws of California. If a gun is brought in from another state, the new resident must submit a New Resident Ownership Report to the California Department of Justice. As of January 1, 2014, this requirement applies to both long guns and hand guns.

There are many categories of persons who are not allowed to possess a gun in the State of California, including but not limited to:

Anyone who has been convicted of a felony or any violent offense;

Anyone who is ordered to not possess firearms as a condition of probation;

Anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor listed under Penal Code section 29805;

Most persons subject to a temporary or permanent restraining order or injunction;

Anyone who is found by a court to be a danger to himself, herself, or others because of a mental illness;

Anyone who is adjudicated to be a mentally disordered sex offender;

Anyone who is placed on a conservatorship because of a mental disorder or impairment due to chronic alcoholism;

Anyone who is taken into custody as a danger to self or others under Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150, assessed under Welfare and Institutions Code section 5151, and admitted to a mental health facility under Welfare and Institutions Code sections 5151, 5152, or certified under Welfare and Institutions Code sections 5250, 5260, and 5270.15;

Anyone who is addicted to the use of narcotics;

Anyone who receives a dishonorable discharge from the military; and

Anyone who is not legally residing in the United States.

Although there are some exceptions, in most cases it is illegal to possess automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns and rifles (barrel length of less than 16″), assault weapons, .50 Browning machine gun caliber rifles, and large capacity magazines in California. All other firearms are, generally speaking, legal.

California utilizes a database known as the Armed Prohibited Persons System, which continually updates with those persons no longer eligible to possess firearms. For example, someone who has been committed on a “5150” may find the police knocking on the door because he or she legally bought a gun in the state at some time prior to his or her commitment.

The State is allowed to confiscate guns legally purchased by someone who subsequently becomes a person not allowed to possess a gun in the state. It is not unheard of for the police to confiscate guns, due to errors in the database, from persons who are actually allowed possession.

CARRYING OR TRANSPORTING A FIREARM

A person who legally possesses a concealable firearm in California may transport the firearm in a motor vehicle as long as the firearm is unloaded and stored in a fully enclosed, secure, and locked container. A trunk is considered such a container, but a glove compartment is not. A concealable firearm is any firearm capable of being concealed such as a pistol or revolver.

A non-concealable, legally owned firearm, such as a rifle, may be transported in a vehicle without the need to secure the firearm in an enclosed container. The firearm must be unloaded when being transported.

These are just the basics. There is a labyrinth of laws in California regulating where the guns may be stored, how the guns may be transported, concealed weapon regulations, and so on. Violation of any of these laws can result in criminal charges, from simply neglecting to file a “New Resident Ownership Report” (a misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to six months in county jail and/or fines) to the sale or transfer of an assault weapon (which is a felony with a potential sentence of up to eight years imprisonment).

Anyone charged under the complicated gun statutes in California should consult with an experience criminal defense attorney immediately.

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WEAPONS CHARGES

SALE, POSSESSION AND USE OF ASSAULT WEAPONS

The most common weapons charges fall under the category of the sale or possession of an illegal assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle. The sale and possession of these weapons is made illegal under Penal Code sections 30600-30675. There are some limited exceptions to the sale and possession of these weapons, which will not be discussed here.

SENTENCING

Someone charged with the illegal sale or transfer of an assault weapon or a .50 BMG rifle faces a felony charge punishable by imprisonment for four, six, or eight years. A person charged with simple possession of an assault weapon may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.

A misdemeanor assault weapons charge carries a potential sentence of imprisonment for up to one year and/or probation plus fines. If charged as a felony, the sentence is 16 months, two, or three years imprisonment plus a fine. Simple possession of a .50 BMG weapon is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment and/or probation plus fines.

SENTENCING ENHANCEMENTS

California law provides for sentencing enhancements for the possession or use of a gun during the commission of a felony. Possession of a simple handgun during the commission of any felony will trigger the sentencing enhancement statute with the minimum of an additional and consecutive term of one year imprisonment.

Consecutive means that the sentence will be added to, not served with, the sentence for the underlying crime. The enhancement penalties can be much more severe depending on the type of weapon used and the circumstances of the crime and can carry up to a life term under certain conditions.

Under Penal Code section 12022, a person who is armed with an assault weapon, a machine gun, or a .50 BMG weapon during the commission of a felony or an attempted felony faces an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment for three years.

Under certain circumstances, the enhancement is even greater. For example, someone charged with the sale or transport of drugs while personally armed with any of these weapons faces a sentencing enhancement of three, four, or five years imprisonment.

OTHER GUN CRIMES

There are many other laws in the State of California that make it criminal to use or possess a gun in certain areas or in certain ways.

Examples of gun crimes in California include, but are not limited to:

Bringing a gun on public or private school property, or even within 1000 feet of the school grounds, is an offense punishable by up to seven years imprisonment;

Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or fines;

Assault with a firearm carries stiffer penalties than simple assault. It is almost always charged as a felony (although assault with a simple revolver can be charged as a misdemeanor) and carries a sentence of up to twelve years imprisonment.

These examples are but a few of the many charges under California’s gun laws. The State of California often punishes gun crimes severely and if you find yourself charged under any of these statutes, you should consult immediately with Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507.

 

                                           CONVEAT/ WARNING:
 
This is information is ONLY provided to you as a general explanation of the enormity and complexity of the firearms and weapons related offenses, enhancements and possible priors that each gun related case can present to the potential criminal defendant.  Superimposed upon the complex and interlocking and overlapping laws, regulations and case law pertaining to this subject, each criminal case MUST be first evaluated by an experienced criminal defense  attorney before rendering an opinion as to your specific case.  It is imperative for the Attorney to first  KNOW all of the facts and criminal history from the defendant before the attorney can be expected to provide a legal opinion as to how much jail or prison exposure is possible under California’s very strict gun laws. Each case needs to be carefully evaluated on its own merits.  We don’t practice cookie cutter law and not one shoe fits all!  Therefore, you are encouraged to make an appointment with any one of the experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation.