Wednesday, October 17, 2012

People v. Brown (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 17, 2012)

Do you think a B.B. gun is a "deadly weapon"?

To be more precise:  Does a B.B. gun qualify as a "deadly weapon" pursuant to the definition of that term in California's statute relating to assaults with a deadly weapon, which say that an item qualifies if it is "any object, instrument or weapon that is used in such a manner as to be capable of producing and likely to produce, death or great bodily injury"?

The Court of Appeal says yes.

Which is entirely consistent with the absurd way in which this statute has been interpreted by the California judiciary.  Brown shot a dude with a B.B. gun and hit him in the back, causing a welt.  Is it possible that the pellet would have accidentally hit the victim in the eye?  Sure.  Does that fact mean that the B.B. gun was "likely to produce death or great bodily injury?"  The Court of Appeal thinks so.  Which interprets the term "likely" in such a way to be unrecognizable to anyone who uses this same term in everyday language.

Are there a plethora of other California cases that do the same thing?  Sadly, yes.  So I'm not saying this one's an outlier.  The problem is instead that it's entirely mainstream.

Because, in my view, that's not what the words mean.  Not even close.