People v. Fannin

In People v. Fannin (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1399, the police found a "two-foot length of metal chain, with a heavy padlock attached to one end" in the defendant's jacket pocket after he consented to a search. (Fannin, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at p. 1401.) The defendant was convicted of possessing " 'any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a . . . slungshot' " and he appealed on the ground that " 'slungshot' is an archaic term that is no longer commonly known, and therefore the statute fails to meet the due process requirement of providing reasonable notice of what it prohibits." (Ibid.) The Fannin court rejected the defendant's due process claim, explaining that case law provided a "clear definition" of " 'slungshot.' " (Ibid.) It also noted that two dictionaries provided a nearly identical definition. (Id. at p. 1402, fn. 1.) The Fannin court then addressed the defendant's contention that "it would be unconstitutional to read the statute so broadly as to encompass such an ordinary useful object; otherwise, any student carrying a bicycle chain and lock would be subject to arrest and prosecution at the whim of the police." (Fannin, supra, 91 Cal.App.4th at p. 1402.)