Use of a Deadly Weapon After a Sex Offense in California

In People v. Jones (2001) 25 Cal.4th 98,, the court addressed the following question: "Can the use of a deadly weapon after the completion of a sex offense constitute its use 'in the commission of' the offense for purposes of Penal Code sections 12022.3, subdivision (a), and 667.61, subdivision (e)(4)?"

Guided by its decisions in cases construing other Penal Code provisions that use the phrase 'in the commission of' or substantially similar language- specifically the provisions defining felony murder-the court concluded that "the 'commission' of a sexual offense specified in Penal Code section 12022.3, subdivision (a), does not end with the completion of the sex act, but continues as long as the assailant maintains control over the victim." (People v. Jones, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 109.)

The court held:

"The legislative intent to deter the use of firearms in the commission of specified felonies requires that 'use' be broadly construed.

In the case of a weapons-use enhancement, such use may be deemed to occur 'in the commission of' the offense if it occurred before, during, or after the technical completion of the felonious sex act. The operative question is whether the sex offense posed a greater threat of harm-i.e., was more culpable-because the defendant used a deadly weapon to threaten or maintain control over his victim." (People v. Jones, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 110.)