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Name: People v. Pitto
Case #: S139609
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/07/2008

Under Penal Code section 12022, subdivision (c) (personally armed in the commission of specified drug offenses), defendant’s purpose in placing the firearm near the drugs is irrelevant. During a probation search of appellant’s vehicle, drug task officers found a garbage bag between the driver’s seat and a rear bench seat. Inside the bag was a cigarette package containing 12.09 grams of methamphetamine. Behind the driver’s seat, one foot from the bag containing the drugs, was a cardboard box containing an unloaded revolver and six rounds of ammunition. At trial, the appellant denied that there was any connection between the firearm and the drugs, claiming he had purchased the gun several months earlier because he was suicidal and considered using it to kill himself. The trial court declined to instruct that the firearm must be readily available for offensive or defensive use in the charged crime. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court and held that under the public safety purpose, a defendant’s motive at the time he placed the firearm is irrelevant. The location of the weapon and the drugs, alone, creates the dangerous situation section 12022, subdivision (c) seeks to deter, regardless of the defendant’s intent. (Upholding People v. Bland (1995) 10 Cal.4th 991.)