State v. Ziska/Garza

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-07-2014
  • Case #: S060946
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Landau, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A person commits the crime of unlawful use of a weapon if he uses that weapon to threaten the victim even without any intent to harm the victim.

Defendants Ziska and Garza were both charged with unlawful use of a weapon when they used a crowbar and a knife, respectively, to threaten individuals in their vicinity. The trial court convicted both Defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Defendants argued that the lower courts committed an error by giving the word “use” too broad a definition. They argued that the Oregon legislature intended the word “use” in the unlawful use of a weapon statute to have a narrower meaning. After consulting the statutory text and the legislative history, and after applying common maxims of statutory construction, the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts that the meaning of the word “use” encompassed using the weapon to threaten with no actual intent to harm. Affirmed.

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