California Court of Appeal. 154 Cal. App.3d 261, 201 Cal. Rptr. 136 (1984)
Facts: D was riding a bike and carrying a rifle when he was stopped by a police officer. The case had a rifle with one round of ammunition inside the chamber and six rounds inside the cylinder. 7 more rounds were loose in the case. D testified that the rifle belonged to him and that he picked it up from his stepfather’s house 3 hours before. He did not open the case between when he picked it up and when he was stopped. The lower court ruled inadmissible and irrelevant evidence that D did not know that the gun was loaded and that his stepfather had never returned it loaded in the past (citing People v. Harrison), stating that it does not require knowledge that loaded.
Procedural History: Jury of the lower court found D guilty of a misdemeanor offense of carrying a loaded gun firearm on his person in a public place in violation of Penal Code Section 12031. D appealed.
Issue: Is knowledge that a firearm is loaded an element of the offense of carrying a loaded firearm in a public place?
Holding: Yes, it is an element of the offense.
Reasoning: Certain kinds of regulatory offenses enacted for the protection of the public health and safety are punishable despite the absence of culpability or criminal intent in the accepted sense (People v. Vogel). Need to determine if it was the legislative intent to exclude knowledge that the weapon is loaded as an element. Court finds that carrying of a loaded weapon in public falls within the class of “acts that are so destructive to the social order, or where the ability of the state to establish the element of criminal intent would be extremely difficult if not impossible of proof, that in the interest of justice the legislature has provided that the doing of the act constitutes a crime, regardless of knowledge or criminal intent on the part of the defendant” (In re Marley)>>>it is a public safety statute. D was presumed to know that it is unlawful to carry a gun in a public place.