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Name: People v. Gaitan
Case #: E028064
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/25/2001
Subsequent History: None

Following a court trial, appellant was convicted of a violation of Penal Code section 12020, subdivision (a)(1), possession of metal knuckles. Appellant admitted wearing the metal knuckles, but described them as a piece of jewelry, not a weapon. The arresting officer testified that he knew appellant was a gang member, that he was in the company of gang members when arrested, and that based on his experience, metal knuckles are used as a weapon. On appeal, appellant argued that the court improperly applied a general intent standard, and that the prosecution had not proved he intended to use the metal knuckles for an improper purpose. The appellate court affirmed. The intended use of metal knuckles is neither an element of Penal Code section 12020, subdivision (a)(1), nor a defense to its commission. The evidence showed that appellant knew he was wearing metal knuckles, and a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that he knew the instrument could be used for offense or defense. The general intent standard was properly applied, and there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict.