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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: D055087
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/09/2010

Discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle (Pen. Code, sec. 246) occurs when a person stands outside the vehicle but extends the gun into the vehicle before pulling the trigger. Following a disagreement over reimbursement for sexual services between Jones and the victim, Jones produced a firearm and fired, hitting the victim twice. During deliberations, the jury sent the court a note asking if, for the purpose of section 246, it mattered whether the defendant was outside the vehicle but her hand was inside when the firearm was discharged. The trial court responded, “No.” Utilizing the rules of statutory construction in interpreting section 246, the appellate court, found no error. The relevant inquiry in determining the meaning of the word “at” in the statute (i.e., discharge of firearm “at”) is whether the person is within the vehicle when she discharges the firearm. To be considered within a vehicle, a person’s entire body, or a large portion of it, would have to be in the vehicle, not merely a hand. (Compare People v. Stepney (1981) 120 Cal.App.3d 1019 [person inside his apartment who shoots his television is not guilty of section 246 as he is wholly within the structure and, thus, could not shoot at the structure].)