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Name: People v. Ristau
Case #: H025445
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/10/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 2/23/05: S130191

Appellant sold shares of his company’s stock to purchasers, and the securities were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After his claims about the company’s product proved false, he was indicted for securities and tax violations, including selling unregistered securities, in violation of Corporations Code section 25110. The jury was instructed that it need not find that appellant knew the securities were not exempt from registration, but only that he intentionally sold them. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that some degree of scienter had to be found in order to convict him of those offenses. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed. The relevant statute has no scienter requirement. Although a scienter requirement must be read into a law prohibiting the making of false statements in the sale of a security, that rationale does not extend to Section 25110. Unlike making statements which prove to be false, the act of selling unregistered securities carries an intrinsic risk of legal consequences and is inherently hazardous to the public good. The Legislature intended to create a statute that required no more than a showing of general intent, and therefore there was no error.