Shooting at a house where people are present or into any other inhabited dwelling or occupied car is a felony under California Penal Code Section 246. The act must have been done intentionally and maliciously.

Occupied Dwelling

An occupied dwelling for purposes of the law includes any house, building or car or even a garage attached to a house. It also is irrelevant that no one was present so long as someone was using the dwelling as a home.

Shooting At a Dwelling

Shooting at a dwelling also means firing close enough to it that a bullet could likely hit someone or something around it. This also includes shooting from inside a unit or apartment into an adjoining unit.

Malicious Intent

Another element of PC 246 is that you fired a gun into an occupied dwelling with malicious intent, or that you did so intending to scare someone or even to hurt them.

This offense imposes criminal responsibility for firing a weapon into an occupied dwelling onto anyone who is assisting you in some way to carry out the activity. If you drive someone past a home or dwelling where that person fires into or close to the dwelling, you are held as liable as the person who fired the gun for aiding and abetting.

Defenses to Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling

Under certain circumstances, you may have a defense to this crime:

  • • Self-Defense

If you have a reasonable belief that you or another person are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death, then you could fire a gun into an occupied dwelling or car to protect yourself.

Under these circumstances, you most probably would be faced with someone who is shooting at you or who has a deadly weapon that is about to be used on you or someone and you believe you are protecting yourself.

Firing a gun could be excessive force that would negate self-defense if you had an unreasonable belief that you were facing an imminent threat of serious bodily harm.

  • • Accidental Discharge

If you held up a gun or dropped it and it somehow discharged into an occupied home or car, there is no malicious intent. If the gun accidentally discharges while you were threatening someone with it, you could face a criminal charge of brandishing a weapon under PC 417.

Related Offenses

  • • Brandishing a weapon (PC 417)
  • • Disturbing the Peace (PC 415)

If you shoot into an uninhabited dwelling or car, you could still be charged with disturbing the peace along with any other gun possession charge.

  • • Negligent Discharge of a Firearm (PC 246.3)
  • • Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling in a School Zone (PC 626.9)
  • • Carrying a Loaded Firearm (PC 12031)
  • • Attempted Murder {PC 187(a)}

Penalties for Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling

This offense is a felony and includes mandatory incarceration. You face from 6 months to one year in county jail or 3, 5 or 7 years in state prison.

  • • Causing Death or Serious Bodily Harm

If your firing into an inhabited dwelling or car did kill someone or cause serious bodily harm, you face additional incarceration of 25 years to life, which is to be served consecutively or along with your sentence for firing into an inhabited dwelling. This is pursuant to California’s 10-20-life law.

  • • Criminal Street Gang

As a member of a criminal street gang, you face sentencing under the 10-20-life law and the state’s street gang sentencing enhancement under PC 186.22 that carries more prison time of 5,10,15 or 25-years to life.

Immigration Consequences

For legal aliens or other non-citizens, shooting at an inhabited dwelling can have severe consequences regarding your legal status. Although in some cases a gun crime can be reduced or dismissed, in most instances you face an increased risk of deportation since this is considered a serious crime and one of moral turpitude.

Call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis

Any gun crime conviction, including shooting at an inhabited dwelling can result in serious prison time and have long range or permanent adverse consequences on your life. If you have been charged with a gun crime, call the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis today for a free, confidential initial consultation at (213) 687-4412.