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State v. Pinkham

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

February 6, 2018

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
GLEN H. PINKHAM, Petitioner.

          KORSMO, J.

         This court granted discretionary review of this district court prosecution to determine if the crime of unlawful possession of a loaded rifle in a vehicle requires a mental state. We conclude that the legislature did not impose a mental state and that this safety regulation does not require one. Accordingly, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Petitioner Glen Pinkham was charged in the Yakima County District Court with one count of possession of a loaded rifle in a vehicle in violation of RCW 77.15.460(1) after being seen field dressing an elk by a wildlife officer. The complaint charging the crime alleged that he "knowingly" committed the offense.

         The case proceeded to jury trial; the officer was the sole witness. Despite the knowledge element alleged in the charging document, the court, over defense objection, gave the State's proposed "to convict" instruction that did not include a knowledge element. The jury convicted as charged. The superior court affirmed on appeal.

         This court granted discretionary review to resolve the mental state question.[1] A panel considered the matter without oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         The sole question presented by this appeal is one that was not discussed or resolved in State v. Olney, 117 Wn.App. 524, 72 P.3d 235 (2003), review denied, 151 Wn.2d 1004 (2004).[2] Did the legislature intend that prosecution of the offense of possessing a loaded weapon in a vehicle require proof of a particular mental state, such as knowledge?

         The statute provides:

A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a loaded rifle or shotgun in a motor vehicle, as defined in RCW 46.04.320 ... if:
(a) The person carries, transports, conveys, possesses, or controls a rifle or shotgun in a motor vehicle . . . except as allowed by department rule; and
(b) The rifle or shotgun contains shells or cartridges in the magazine or chamber.

RCW77.15.460(1).[3] This offense is a misdemeanor. RCW 77.15.460(3). It was enacted in 1998. Laws OF 1998, ch. 190, § 28.

         Like the statute itself, legislative history materials are silent on the question of whether a mental state was intended. Petitioner argues that the crime should not be treated as a strict liability offense, likening the situation to State v. Anderson,141 Wn.2d 357, 5 P.3d 1247 (2000). There, our court determined that the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in ...


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