California Penal Code Section 247(b) PC: Shooting At An Unoccupied Vehicle Or Building

California Penal Code Section 247(b) PC: Shooting At An Unoccupied Vehicle Or Building

Discharging a firearm can be an inherently dangerous activity that can lead to death, injury or property damage. Not only is it illegal to shoot at an inhabited building or occupied car under California Penal Code Section 246 PC, it is also against the law to shoot at an unoccupied vehicle or building under California Penal Code Section 247(b) PC. Discharging a firearm in this manner is a serious offense that can result in felony charges.

In order to prove a charge of shooting at an unoccupied vehicle or building, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  • The defendant unlawfully discharged a firearm
  • AND the discharge of the firearm was directed at an unoccupied motor vehicle or an uninhabited building, dwelling or house.

The statute would not apply to shooting at an abandoned vehicle, unoccupied vehicle, uninhabited building, or dwelling house with the permission of the owner. Consent is a valid defense against charges under PC 247(b).

Penalties for Shooting at an Unoccupied Vehicle or Building

Shooting at an unoccupied vehicle or building is a “wobbler” offense that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When making a filing decision, the prosecutor will consider:

  • The defendant’s criminal history
  • The circumstances surrounding the offense
  • Whether the defendant was in lawful possession of the firearm
  • Whether anyone was harmed

If filed as a misdemeanor, the offense is punishable by:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Informal probation

If charged as a felony, the potential penalties include:

  • 16 months, two years or three years in state prison
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Formal probation

The court can also order the defendant to pay restitution to the vehicle or building owner for the cost of repairing any damage caused by the shooting.

Legal Defenses to PC 247(b) Charges

There are several legal defenses that a California criminal defense attorney could raise to challenge PC 247(b) charges. Some of the most common defenses include:

  • Falsely accused – The defendant didn’t actually commit the shooting and is being wrongly accused. Eyewitness misidentification is a common cause of false accusations.
  • Self-defense – The defendant shot at the vehicle because he/she reasonably believed it necessary to defend himself/herself or someone else from imminent danger.
  • Defense of property – The defendant discharged the firearm to protect his/her property from imminent harm. This defense only applies if the force used was reasonable.
  • No criminal intent – The defendant did not willfully or maliciously shoot at the vehicle or building. For example, the gun accidentally discharged.
  • Insufficient evidence – The prosecution lacks solid evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence may have been collected improperly or is unreliable.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the details of the case and develop an effective defense strategy. Having skilled legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome.

Related Offenses

There are other firearm offenses in California law that are related to PC 247(b). Some of the most common include:

  • PC 246 – Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied vehicle
  • PC 246.3 – Discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner
  • PC 417 – Brandishing a firearm
  • PC 626.9 – Gun-Free School Zone Act violation
  • PC 12021 – Felon in possession of a firearm

A conviction under PC 247(b) can also lead to sentencing enhancements for the illegal use of a firearm under PC 12022.5 and PC 12022.53.

Hiring an Attorney for Firearm Offenses

Being charged with shooting at an unoccupied vehicle or building can have devastating consequences on a person’s life and future. The complexity of California’s firearm laws make it essential to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. A skilled attorney will thoroughly examine the evidence, identify the best defenses and work tirelessly to achieve the most favorable outcome in your case.