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Name: People v. Aznavoleh
Case #: B231434
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/06/2012

Street racer who deliberately runs red light at busy intersection need not be subjectively aware his conduct would probably and directly apply physical force to another, to sustain conviction of assault with a deadly weapon. Appellant was convicted of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (ADW; Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1)), reckless driving causing injury (Veh. Code, § 23105, subd. (a)), and inflicting great bodily injury (Pen. Code, § 12022.7, subd. (a)). He challenged his convictions for ADW, claiming that his conduct amounted to mere recklessness. Affirmed. A defendant may not be convicted of ADW “without actual knowledge of facts sufficient to establish that his or her act by its nature will probably and directly result in the application of physical force against another.” However, this does not mean a defendant must be subjectively aware of the risk he might inflict a battery, so long as he is aware of what he is doing and a reasonable person in appellant’s position would foresee that the act will probably and directly result in an application of physical force to another. Here, appellant raced with another vehicle and made no effort to stop or avoid the vehicle he hit. Based on the evidence, an objective person would appreciate that an injurious collision would result.

The court’s further instruction to the jury that appellant must subjectively know his acts would result in injury to another was error. As set forth in People v. Williams (2001) 26 Cal.4th 779, assault does not require the intent to commit a battery. Thus, the instruction given in appellant’s case, which required such a finding, was error. However, the instruction was beneficial to appellant and was therefore harmless.