People v. Dillard

154 Cal. App. 3d 261, 201 Cal. Rptr. 136 (1984)

 

RULE:

A mere belief, unsupported by a showing of due care and bona fide, reasonable effort to ascertain the facts, is insufficient to constitute a mistake of fact defense.

FACTS:

Appellant was convicted of the misdemeanor offense of carrying a loaded firearm on his person in a public place, in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 12031(a). The court noted that knowledge that the weapon was loaded was not an element of the misdemeanor offense of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, thus lack of knowledge that the weapon was loaded was not a defense. Accordingly, the court affirmed the holding of the lower court.

ISSUE:

Did appellant sufficiently establish his defense of reasonable mistake of fact?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Appellant's contention that to dispense with the requirement of knowledge violates his due process right to present a defense is meritless.  Since knowledge that the weapon is loaded is not an element of the offense of violation of section 12031, subdivision (a), lack of such knowledge is not a defense. Hence, no right of appellant's was infringed.Whether a good faith and reasonable mistake of fact would be a defense (see § 26, subd. Three) is not an issue presently before us. Appellant's offer of proof was deficient in that it showed only lack of knowledge, i.e., that he was unaware that the rifle was loaded and that, based on past experience with his stepfather, he believed it to be unloaded. A mere belief, unsupported by a showing of due care and bona fide, reasonable effort to ascertain the facts, is insufficient to constitute a mistake of fact defense. 

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