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Name: People v. Adams
Case #: F054047
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/27/2009

For the purpose of Penal Code section 12303.2 (prohibited possession of a destructive device), Penal Code section 12301 defines “destructive device” as a “breakable” container, but does not require that the container be one that would shatter. Appellant was convicted of arson, possession of a destructive device in public (i.e., styrofoam devices with match heads), and felony vandalism. Evidence presented at trial was that he became angry at police after being evicted from an illegal campground and burned a police car and spray painted other ones. Police officers responding to the arson call saw appellant drop bags as he ran from the scene. Inside one of the bags were two styrofoam cups compressed together with isopropanol sealed between the cups. An expert testified that the liquid was flammable. The appellate court rejected appellant’s argument that styrofoam was not a breakable container as it would not shatter because the language of section 12301 required only that the container be breakable, which styrofoam is. As the word “breakable” is one of common usage, the court had no sua sponte duty to define it for the jury.