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Name: In re David V.
Case #: B203840
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 09/08/2008
Subsequent History: rev. granted 12/17/08 (S167716)
Summary

Possession of a bicycle footrest can constitute possession of “metal knuckles” prohibited by Penal Code section 12020, subdivision (c)(7). An officer stopped appellant, who was riding a bicycle, and searched him, finding a bicycle footrest in appellant’s rear pants pocket. Although the system of attachment of the footrest was fairly basic, the officer was unable to affix it to appellant’s bicycle, or find a device to secure it on the bicycle, or locate a place on the bicycle where the footrest could be attached. At trial, the officer testified that a bicycle footrest was commonly used as a “metal knuckle.” The appellate court rejected appellant’s sufficiency of evidence challenge, noting that with amendments to section 12020, subdivision (c)(7), the Legislature had evinced an intent to reach objects such as bicycle footrests that can be held in the hand and used for offensive or defensive purposes. Further, although section 12020 does not define a strict liability crime, the prosecution need only prove that the item has the characteristic such that it falls within the statutory description and that appellant knew of the characteristic. If the item is one of ordinary, innocent usage, the prosecution need not prove appellant’s intent to use it against a specific victim, but only prove appellant’s general intent to possess it. Lastly, the burden is on appellant to establish innocent usage.