Conviction Reversed: Firearm Was Not Available For Immediate Use
People v. Sanchez Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: H047350 (Sixth Appellate District), Opinion Date: June 30, 2021. During a traffic stop, Sanchez was driving a pickup truck with methamphetamine in its cab; in its open bed, police found a loaded rifle inside a bag that was partially covered by a board. Sanchez was charged with possession of a short-barreled rifle or shotgun (Pen. Code 33210); possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm (Health & Safety 11370(a)); and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle (Pen. Code 25850(a)). "Armed with” means “having available for immediate offensive or defensive use.” An officer testified that, at five foot nine inches tall he could easily reach into the bed and grab the bag while standing next to the truck. He estimated that Sanchez was about five feet and six or seven inches tall. Although the gun was rusted, a criminalist determined it was operational. A jury found Sanchez not guilty on count 1, but guilty on counts 2 and 3. The court of appeal reversed. Based on plain meaning, the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that the firearm was available for immediate use because Sanchez could not have used it without exiting the truck, retrieving the bag from under the board in the truck bed, and taking the gun out of the bag.
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