PC 30315: Possession of Armor Piercing Ammunition: Law, Penalty, & Defense

PC 30315 Law, PC 30315 Penalty, PC 30315 Defense

PC 30315 Law

In California, it is illegal for any person to knowingly possession ammunition that is intended to pierce metal or armor. The law related to this crime is found at PC 30315, which reads:

Any person, firm, or corporation who, within this state knowingly possesses any handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor is guilty of a public offense and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or in the county jail for a term not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment (PC 30315).

Any person, firm, or corporation who, within this state, manufactures, imports, sells, offers to sell, or knowingly transports any handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor is guilty of a felony....(PC 30320 Abbrev.).

Ammunition Defined: The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm (18 USC 921(17)(A).

Armor Piercing Ammunition Defined:

A projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium (18 USC 18 921(B)(i); or

A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile (USC 18 921(B)(ii).

Note: The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating (USC 18 921(C).

Note: Essentially, armor piercing ammunition is designed to have a bullet penetrate ballistic armor or ballistic shields that intended to stop conventional bullets. It is not necessarily the caliber of the bullet that is at issue in PC 30315 cases, but rather the design of the bullet (material and design used), and the bullet’s cartridge or gun propellant characteristics (type of combustion material, accelerants, or chemical used, and the bullet’s intended gun barrel use.

Example: A bullet possessed by a non-authorized person, which is designed to penetrate a bullet proof vest, an armored shield, or a law enforcement’s armored vehicle, is a violation of penal code 30315.

PC 30315 Penalties

The crime of possessing armor piercing ammunition is classified as a “wobbler.” This means that PC 30315 may be charged either as a felony, or alternatively as a misdemeanor.

Felony PC 30315 Jail Sentence: When PC 30315 is charged as a felony, the defendant could face any of the following sentences: 1) A probation sentence (see Probation Sentence below for further information); 2) a “low term” jail sentence of sixteen (16) months; 3) a “middle term” jail sentence of two (2) years, or 4) a “high term” jail sentence of three (3) years (PC30315-F).

Note: Whether or not a defendant, who is convicted of any PC 30315 violation, is sentenced to either probation, or any of the three terms listed above, depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the defendant’s criminal history, the disposition of any plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney (or court), the facts and circumstances of the case, the presence of any injury or other criminal allegations, and more.

Misdemeanor PC 30315 Jail Sentence: When PC 30315 is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to one (1) year in the county jail, or a probation sentence (with or without jail) (PC30315-M) [See Probation Sentence below for further information.

Note: Whether or not a defendant who is charged with a misdemeanor PC 30315 violation receives either a probation sentence (with or without jail), or an actual jail sentence, depends largely on the factors similar to the granting of a probation sentence in a felony case (see above).

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to an actual jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in both felony and misdemeanor cases of PC 30315 violations. Whether or not a defendant who is convicted of a PC 30315 violation receives either a probation sentence, or an actual jail sentence, depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the circumstances and facts of the case, the disposition of any plea agreement (plea bargain) between the defendant and the district attorney (or the court), the presence of any injury to third persons, the sophistication of the offense, and more.

Note: A probation sentence carries terms of probation which must be complied with by the defendant in order to remain on probation. Those conditions vary from case to case depending on the circumstances but almost all probation sentences will include the following terms: violate no law while on probation (misdemeanor or felony), pay court fines and fees, fulfill some type of community service, work release, or house arrest, and more.

Also, a term of probation can include an actual jail sentence; however, when an actual jail sentence is a term of probation, the jail sentence is generally much shorter than the jail sentence would have otherwise been had the defendant not been granted probation and that actual jail sentence may sometimes be served alternatively on house arrest or work release. For more information, see Felony v. Misdemeanor Probation, House Arrest & Work Release, and Violation of Probation Crimes.

Suspended & Split Jail Sentence: If a defendant is convicted of a felony violation of PC 30315, and he is not placed on probation, then his jail sentence may sometimes be served partially in actual jail and partially out of actual jail (split sentence), or his actual jail sentence may have to be served only if he violates a condition of his post-conviction supervision (suspended jail sentence). Also, any incarceration that is served by the defendant after a conviction for possession of armor piercing ammunition may be served in a local count jail, as opposed to a California state prison (PC 1170). This is true even if the defendant is ordered to serve more than a year on a felony PC 30315 conviction.

Firearm Prohibition: If the defendant is found guilty of possessing armor piercing ammunition then he will be forbidden by law from owning or possessing any firearm ammunition (armor piercing or otherwise). The firearm and ammunition prohibition for felony PC 30315 violations is lifetime; the firearm and ammunition prohibition for misdemeanor PC 30315 violations is ten (10) years.

Note: Post conviction relief might be able to restore firearm rights after a felony conviction in some cases (See Certificate of Rehabilitation & Restoring Firearm Rights).

Three Strikes Law: A violation of PC 30315 is not considered a “strike offense” under California’s Three Strikes Law. PC 30315 is not classified as a “serious” offense or a “violent” offense according to PC 1192.7(c) and PC 667.5(c), respectively. As such, PC 30315 is eligible for Prop 57 reduced jail sentencing (with some limitations) [See Prop 57].

CIMT: Mere possession of armor piercing ammunition, without evidence of sale or manufacturing, is likely not considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). A CIMT is a classification of crimes that are considered inherently immoral or otherwise involve some type of deceit, fraud, or dishonesty. CIMT carry negative and collateral consequences, especially for non-U.S. citizens as it relates to their immigration status (deportation, denial of entry into the U.S., denial of naturalization, and more). Of course, a non-CIMT crime, including PC 30315 violations, may also have negative impact on immigration proceedings for non-U.S. citizens, but a conviction for CIMT tends to have greater negative impact on a non-U.S. citizen’s ability to remain in the county.

Note: Immigration law is constantly changing and evolving and it is possible that any criminal conviction, regardless of CIMT status or not, can lead to severe negative consequences, for immigration related cases and non-immigration cases. For more information, see CIMT and contact a lawyer without delay.

Other Penalties: In addition to any possible jail or probation sentence, anyone convicted of possession of armored piercing ammunition may suffer other penalties, including, but not limited to, the following: court fines and fees, restraining orders (criminal protective orders), military service penalties (discharge, ineligibility to enter, veterans’ benefits, etc.), immigration consequences (deportation, denial of reentry, denial of naturalization, and more), professional licensing consequences (See Professional License & Criminal Convictions), family law consequences (denial of right to adopt, child custody concerns, etc.), reputation damage, possible civil lawsuits, future probation or parole violations, and more.

Bail: Bail is an amount of money staked with the court, usually through a bail agent, that is intended to secure the defendant’s presence in court. If a defendant’s stakes the bail, then he is allowed to be free from custody during the pendency of the criminal proceedings (subject to conditions of release form custody on bail). The payment of bail is not really a penalty or punishment associated with the crime of PC 30315; however, bail requires a payment in advance of possible conviction in order to be released from jail. Therefore, we have included in this section on penalties associated with the criminal charge of possession of armored piercing ammunition (See Bailing out of Jail for more information).

PC 30315 Defense

While no single defense necessarily best fits a particular type of criminal charge, there are some common defenses that commonly related to a criminal allegation of PC 30315. These include, but are not limited to, the following: statute of limitation (a period of time under which the district attorney is required to bring formal criminal charges against the defendant), duress, insufficient evidence, coerced confession, violation of a the defendant’s right to unreasonable searches and seizures, entrapment, and more.

Fleeting Possession: As stated, the crime of PC 30315 requires the defendant to have knowingly possessed the armor piercing ammunition. As such, the defendant is not guilty of the crime unless the district attorney can prove that the defendant knew he possessed the armored piercing ammunition. Possession of an object can be actual (on his person), or constructive (right or ability to control the object but not on the defendant’s person). However, sometimes a person can have actual possession of armored piercing ammunition, while knowing that he has actual possession of armored piercing ammunition, but nevertheless, that person is not guilty of the crime; this is because the possession of the ammunition might be only momentary or fleeting.

For example, if a defendant is handed armored piercing ammunition, and the defendant realizes that he has been handed armored piercing ammunition, and thereafter he safely discards the ammunition because he does not want to have actual possession of the contraband, then his possession could be determined to be “fleeting.” Of course, every case is different, but the important part of a fleeting possession defense is that the defendant, immediately as he can safely do so, discard or relinquish possession of the contraband.

Specific Statutory Defenses: The law has carved out exceptions to the rule listed in PC 30315. In other words, it is sometime legal for a person to take knowing possession of armored piercing ammunition. These exceptions to PC 30315 are as follows:

Nothing in this article shall apply to or affect the possession of handgun ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor by a person who found the ammunition, if that person is not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 30305, Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 29800) or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 29900) of Division 9 of this title, or Section 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and the person is transporting the ammunition to a law enforcement agency for disposition according to law (PC 30325).

Nothing in this article shall apply to or affect the sale to, purchase by, possession of, or use of any ammunition by any member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps of the United States, or the National Guard, while on duty and acting within the scope and course of employment, or any police agency or forensic laboratory or any person who is the holder of a valid permit issued pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 18900) of Chapter 1 of Division 5 of Title 2 (PC 30330).

Nothing in this article shall prohibit the possession, importation, sale, attempted sale, or transport of ammunition from which the propellant has been removed and the primer has been permanently deactivated (PC 30335).

Note: Other PC 30315 exceptions might apply.

Reduction of the Criminal Charges: In some cases, where a felony is charged in a PC 30315 case, the defendant might be able to have his attorney argue that the criminal charge should be reclassified as a misdemeanor. While the reclassification of a criminal charge from a felony to a misdemeanor is not a true defense in the sense the reduction does not vindicate the defendant, it is listed here as an option in PC 30315 defense because there is usually no negative outcome that flows from arguing that the classification of a criminal charged should be reduced before, or even during, the criminal proceedings. In fact, even after a felony conviction, the defendant may motion the court to have his felony reduced to a misdemeanor before sentencing. This reclassification of the criminal charge is only allowed in “wobbler” crime cases, including PC 30315.

For example, after being charged with felony possession of armored piercing bullets, Greg has his defense attorney argue to the court that the criminal case should be refiled as a misdemeanor because Greg has no criminal history, the possession of the armored piercing bullets was temporary and minimal, no person was physical injured by Greg’s possession of the bullets, and there was no complex sophistication behind Greg’s possession (no other crime alleged). If Greg’s attorney is successful, the criminal case does not conclude, but rather, the criminal case moves forward as a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony charge.

Note: Keep in mind that misdemeanor PC 30315 charges can be increased to felony charges in some cases. For more information, see Wobbler Crimes.

For more information on the crime of possession of armored piercing ammunition, or PC 30315, contact our criminal defense lawyers without delay. There is no charge for a consultation in-office, for first time visits. In some cases, for a minimal fee, we can travel to local jails for a first time consultation (West Valley, CDC, and Adelanto Jail only).

Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in all Inland Empire criminal courts, including San Bernardino, Victorville, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Banning, and more. We represent clients charged with any gun or ammunition offense, including PC 30315, and we serve all Inland Empire cities, including Redlands, Yucaipa, Ontario, Hesperia, Colton, Rialto, and more. Call today!


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Penal Code 30315 Possess Armor Penetrating Ammunition
PC 30315 Possession of Armor Piercing Ammunition & Bullets