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Name: People v. Trujillo
Case #: E045598
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/09/2010

If a defendant has the requisite mental state for assault, it is not necessary that he have actual knowledge of each specific victim of the assault to sustain a conviction for assault against victims of whom he had no actual knowledge. One evening, appellant and his two friends, Valdez and Ruano, were at appellant’s house drinking beer and tequila. Valdez told the other two that he wanted to confront his girlfriend’s former boyfriend A. because A. had tried to pick a fight with him. The three agreed to confront and fight A. and drove to A.’s house. Appellant was in the front passenger seat. Before leaving his house, he got a rifle which he hid underneath his coat. When the three got to A.’s residence, they stopped in front and a black Honda Civic with tinted windows pulled up behind them and then veered around and turned the corner. Yelling, “That’s them,” appellant shot four or five shots at the Civic. At trial, appellant was convicted of assault with a firearm of the two occupants of the Civic, the driver and rear seat passenger. On appeal, appellant argued that there was insufficient evidence as to the assault of the rear seat passenger as he did not know of his presence. The conviction was upheld. Assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on another. A defendant guilty of assault must be aware of the facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that a battery would directly, naturally and probably result from his conduct. A person with the requisite intent for assault is guilty of the assault of all persons actually assaulted under the following theories: (1) zone of harm – where the means used to commit the crime against a primary victim creates a zone of harm around that victim, the jury can reasonably infer that the defendant intended harm to all in the anticipated zone; (2) reasonably foreseeable victim – a person with actual knowledge that he is shooting indiscriminately at a moving vehicle would know that his conduct would directly, naturally and probably result in a battery to anyone and everyone inside the vehicle regardless of his awareness of the presence of each person.