Penal Code 417: Or Why is Our Legal System so Soft on Crime?

Warning, in this post, I will talk about the law which will probably make me look stupid. You have been warned.

“I will crush you with my car.” Haha, very funny, yes?

Kind of.

The thought of a large wheel rolling over my head and popping it like an over ripe water melon does make me laugh.

On the other hand, sometimes saying stuff like this is a breech of the law and as is my policy, I URGE READERS TO FOLLOW THEIR LOCAL LAWS AT ALL TIMES!

Recently, I found this interesting law:

“In order to prove that you brandished a weapon under Penal Code 417 PC, the prosecutor must prove the following facts (otherwise known as “elements” of the crime):

that you drew or exhibited a deadly weapon or firearm in the presence of another person,

that either

you did so in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or

you did so unlawfully in a fight or quarrel, and

that you were not acting in self-defense or in the defense of another person at the time.”

Come on. Every time a motorist shouts something stupid at a cyclist is not a crime is it? After all, this is a gun law, right? An automobile is not a deadly weapon is it?

Usually, no.

But in context, it could be:

“A deadly weapon is “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury”.3 “Great bodily injury” is a significant or substantial physical injury.4

Deadly weapons do not include body parts, as deadly weapons are necessarily extrinsic to the human body.5

Examples: Examples of everyday “innocent” objects that qualify as deadly weapons when used to harm another person include (but are not limited to):

a pillow (which can be used to suffocate a person),

a razor blade, and

a dog (when trained to attack people).”

So if a deadly weapon could be a pillow, I feel it most certainly be considered to be an automobile.

So why are we doing so little about it?

I have a few guesses.

If you asked why it is not being addressed, you will get the answer that many of these threats are harmless which is false as LTRs know that being number one in the amount of deaths does not make something “harmless”.

In other cases, this would be considered an “epidemic”, and we’d throw more money at this problem.

The reason I can see this being ignored is that the Powers that Be can relate more to those tossing off the threats rather than those being threatened even though, again, this actually not true.

At any rate, those of us who think that “better laws” or “more enforcement”, ONLY, is the answer to cycling nirvana, think about the existing laws that we have to “protect” us that are going totally ignored as the system is soft on crime when it comes to certain people and certain crimes.

Next time a politician says he will crack down on crime, ask him if he will enforce this law on all motorists, and you will see how soft (and small) he is. 🙂


3 Responses to “Penal Code 417: Or Why is Our Legal System so Soft on Crime?”

  1. Aaron Garland Says:

    In the video explaining this law the lawyer lists “self defense” as a common defense for cases for persons accused of code 417. If a driver was accused of breaking the law by threatening a cyclist with their vehicle, then “self defense” seems like a poor defense because this would imply that they were threatened by the cyclist. I know that you have recently written extensively about this kind of absurdity, so maybe my logic is flawed. However, as a cyclist I often feel threatened by motor vehicles. I thought you might appreciate this video a friend of mine made concerning cycling and self defense.

    • Fred Says:

      Thanks for this Aaron, I miss you! We do need more input on these legal issues as INAL.

      Also, one of the biggest problems is that motorists really, really do feel threatened. I was going to address this in a future blog post titled:

      “My Biggest Enemy: Innocent Victims”

    • Fred Says:

      FYI, although this video was nice and enlightening, I would not endorse carrying a gun to make the roads safer. I’m not advocating against guns either, however. I find the whole gun thing to be a bit boring, personally.

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