Conviction Upheld for Disassembled AK-47 Assault Rifle?
In March, 2010, Orange County Sheriffs went to the auto repair shop owned by Tien Due Nguyen. Law enforcement was interested in investigating evidence of auto theft.About This Article Briefly: A conviction for attempted possession of a firearm is proper when one has a disassembled firearm, as the following case summary explains.
As part of their standard questions asked prior to any inspection, officers asked Nguyen if he had any weapons at the shop. Nguyen, a convicted felon with a prior strike, told officers that he had a fully-assembled .50-caliber DTC rifle and a disassembled AK 47. Nguyen explained that he had the weapons because he hunted pigs.
Nguyen was apparently happy to show off his weapons and explain to police how he obtained the weapons. He described how he was able to purchase the weapons from the Internet. He apparently thought the police would appreciate the weapons like car enthusiasts approve unusual cars. Nguyen even lamented the fact that the AK 47 still needed to be put together.
Officers noted that the .50-caliber rifle had no serial number or even a manufacture name on it. This suggests the weapon might be stolen as it could not be registered. Officers also noted that Nguyen had a large amount of .50- caliber ammunition.
The AK-47 also had no serial number, suggesting it also may have been stolen. Officers then told Nguyen about this and Nguyen responded by showing him AK-Builder.com, where he told officers he bought the weapon’s receiver. Nguyen admitted to officers that he knew it was wrong to have an AK-47. Nguyen also inventoried the parts he had, showing officers that he did have all the parts to complete the AK-47.
Nguyen was then arrested. In the Westminster Superior Court, he was accused of attempted possession of an assault weapon (Penal Code §§ 664(a) and then 12280(b)), possession of a firearm by a felon (then Penal Code § 12021(a)(1) and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person (then Penal Code § 12316(b)(1)). There were three counts for each weapon.
Nguyen appealed his conviction, arguing that he could not be convicted of possessing the AK-47 when it was not fully assembled to allow it even to be fired.
The Fourth Appellate District, in People v. Tien Due Nguyen (2013 DJDAR 926), began its analysis with a comment that likely will be repeated by other courts:
Beware of the dangers of the Internet. It makes semiautomatic assault weapon kits available at the click of a mouse. Furthermore, it would appear to provide guidance on assembling the weapons, as well as suggestions for avoiding criminal convictions arising out of the possession of the parts, their assembly and even possession of the completed weapons. But woe betides the consumer who trusts every scheme espoused on the Internet.
The Fourth Appellate District then noted that, in general, under California law, an attempt to commit a crime is itself a crime and [is] subject to punishment that bears some relation to the completed offense. Moreover, Penal Code § 664 states “every person who attempts to commit any crime, but fails, or is prevented or intercepted in its perception is punishable as set for on that provision.”
For more information about possession of firearm crimes, click on the following articles:
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