California v. Russell

144 Cal. App. 4th 1415 (2006)


Foster was riding his 1982 Yamaha motorcycle when it stopped running. He pushed the motorcycle to a repair shop. The repair shop was closed. Foster parked the motorcycle next to a fenced area near the repair shop; trash bins were located inside the fenced area. Foster did not leave the keys with the motorcycle, however, he did not lock the forks to the motorcycle. When he called the shop on Tuesday to arrange repairs, it was discovered that the motorcycle was missing. He called the police. Officers found the motorcycle in D’s possession. D claimed it was his. D as arrested. D told the officer he found the motorcycle around 4:00 a.m. on March 7, 2005, in a commercial parking lot. D contacted an employee in a nearby shop, who told him a man had left the motorcycle there. D “punched the ignition” and rode off. The officer searched D and found a traffic citation dated March 14, 2005, for a traffic violation involving the motorcycle. The citation listed Foster as the registered owner of the motorcycle. D claimed that the motorcycle was abandoned: (1) the front right turn signal was covered with packing tape; (2)there was rust on the mirror, the post to the mirror, the exhaust pipes, and fenders; (3) there were cobwebs and leaves in the front wheel; (4) the aluminum cast blocks on the motor were severely tarnished; (5) the motorcycle was located next to the trash area; (6) the registration tags had expired 22 months before; (7) the forks on the motorcycle were not locked. D knew the repair shop's policy was to bring all the motorcycles that were being repaired inside the shop at night. D assumed someone left the motorcycle there for the repair shop to use for parts or that the owner had told the repair shop not to do the work because it was going to cost more than the motorcycle was worth. After D got it running, he was stopped by an Officer for a traffic violation, and it had not yet been reported as stolen. D got the ticket and was sent on his way. D even went to Foster’s address listed on the citation. He hoped Foster would sign over the cycle. Foster had not lived there for 18 months. At trial, D did not request a mistake of fact instruction. D was convicted and appealed.