OR Self-Defense Case of the Month (2/2014): State v. Clemente-Perez

State v. Clemente-Perez, 2014 Ore. App. LEXIS 201 (OR Ct. App. 2014)

February 20, 2014, filed

Overview

The defendant, Fernando Clemente-Perez, got angry enough at his wife’s cell phone that he retrieved a pistol from his pickup truck parked beside his home and shot the phone dead. He then wrapped the pistol in a towel and placed it in a lockable—but not locked—storage container under the seat of his truck.

At trial the defendant was convicted of second-degree criminal mischief for the shooting of the phone. He did not appeal this conviction.

He was also convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) § 166.250. The defendant here appeals this conviction on the grounds that §166.250 provides an exemption for firearms that are possessed within one’s place of residence. In this case, he argues, the pickup truck parked beside his home constituted part of his residence.

The question on appeal, then, was how broadly to define the scope of the “residence” carve out for the purposes of §166.250.

Facts in Evidence

All parties conceded that the home beside which the defendant’s truck was parked was his actual place of residence. The truck was parked under a stand-alone awning structure a few feet from the garage. It is also agreed that at all relevant times the defendant’s truck was parked under the awning near his driveway and never left his property.

The Law

The relevant portion of §166.250 provides that:

[A] person commits the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm if the person knowingly . . .

(b) Possesses a handgun that is concealed and readily accessible to the person within any vehicle . . .

(2) This section does not prohibit:

(b) Any citizen of the United States . . . from owning, possessing or keeping withing the person’s place of residence . . . any handgun . . .

On appeal the defendant argued that the trial court should have granted his motion for judgment of acquittal under section §166.250(2)(b) because, he argues. there was uncontroverted evidence that he met that “place of residence” exception. In particular, the defendant argued at trial that a person’s “place of residence” includes a vehicle parked in the driveway of the person’s house.

Legal Analysis

The Oregon courts have previously examined the “place of residence” exception to §166.250(20(b) in two previous cases. State v. Leslie, 132 P.3d 37 (2006) and State v. Wolf, 317 P.3d 377 (2013).

In Leslie, the defendant owned a pickup truck with a cover over the bed. When arrested, the defendant had been living in the truck for several years, considered it to be his home, and normally ate, slept, and studied for college there. His arrest occurred when police discovered several concealed handguns in the truck and confirmed that the defendant did not have a concealed handgun license.

Appealing his conviction, the defense argued that the truck qualified as his “place of residence,” while the state argued that the “place of residence” exception should apply only to fixed and permanent structures.

The appellate court ruled that by “place of residence” the legislature intended to refer to any actual residence in which a person normally engaged in particular activities of daily life—sleeping, eating, and drinking. Thus the court concluded that “place of residence” under §166.250(2)(b) meant “the place where a person actually lives, i.e., where he or she regularly eats, drinks, and sleeps,” even if that place is not a building or other structure. Because it was undisputed that the defendant did, in fact, live in his truck, the truck qualified as his “place of residence.” His conviction was reversed.

In Wolf, the defendant had rented a campsite with the intention to stay about a week. He had pitched a tent and had made a pot of coffee when he was approached by a Forest Service officer while outside of his tent. When asked, the defendant admitted he had a pistol in his pocket and that he did not possess a concealed handgun license. He was consequently arrested and charged under §166.250.

As in Leslie, the defendant here argued that he fell within the “place of residence” exception of §166.250(2)(b). The state conceded that the legislature intended to allow people to possess concealed handguns in their “place of residence,” but argued that this would have limited the scope of defendant’s right to the interior of his tent.

On appeal the court noted that both the truck in Leslie and the tent in Wolf “are temporary structures in which daily living activities may be conducted and, therefore, both can function as a person’s ‘place of residence.’”

The question that remained in Wolf was whether areas outside of such structures could also be included within the scope of a person’s “place of residence.” The court decided that the answer was “yes,” so long as there was evidence that the outdoor area could be considered to be within a defined “place” and that daily living activities would be conducted there.

Further, they decided in the case of Wolf that there was such evidence of “daily living activities” to infer that the area immediately adjacent to his tent ought to be included as part of his “place of residence.” This evidence included the defendant’s intention to stay there for a week, the presence of firewood for heat and cooking fuel, the presence of picnic tables, and the defendant’s testimony that he had made a pot of coffee shortly before the officers arrived.

The appellate court in the instant case then applied Leslie and Wolf to the defendant’s argument. Unlike in Leslie, the defendant here did not contend that the truck itself is his place of residence but that his place of residence includes the truck because it was parked in close proximity. And unlike in Wolf, the defendant here did not contend that the awning area where the truck was parked was part of his place of residence because he engaged in daily living activities there, but only because of its physical proximity to his place of residence.

The court then noted:

Defendant presented no evidence on the purpose of the awning structure, its fundamental relationship with the house, or the amount of time he spent within that structure. As defendant does not argue that he used the area in which the truck was located for daily living activities, it was not his place of residence for purposes of §166.250(2)(b). Accordingly, he was not entitled to a judgment of acquittal on that basis.

Holding

Defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) § 166.250 was affirmed.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

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