How to Prove That a Gun Was Loaded (Criminal Trial) ?
In People v. Rodriguez (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1, the defendant was convicted of committing assault with a firearm based on testimony he had placed a gun under the chin of a witness who had seen him shoot someone else the day before and told the witness to keep his mouth shut or "'I could do to you what I did to them.'" ( Id. at p. 15 (dis. opn. of Kennard, J.).)
The appellate court concluded the evidence was insufficient to support a finding the gun was loaded, but the Supreme Court disagreed.
According to the Supreme Court, the jury could reasonably have found the gun was loaded because:
(1) the defendant had shot another person the day before;
(2) the jury could have inferred the defendant, a gang member, logically would not carry an unloaded gun in an area where gang violence was prevalent;
(3) the jury could reasonably have interpreted the defendant's warning to the witness as an admission of his present ability to harm the witness. ( Id. at pp. 10-11.)