Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. I?m
sure you have read our disclaimer at the bottom of this page which
says that our answers are not intended to substitute for informed
professional legal advice. With that thought in mind it is most
prudent of course to consult an attorney about legal issues but I will
gladly point out to you what published law state on the matter. Let me
It seems that you have misread the statute you are quoting from or, at
the very least, you misunderstand the statute?s intent. Let?s examine
what the law states in this regard (I will capitalize certain portions
for emphasis sake):
724.4 Carrying weapons.
1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who goes
armed with a dangerous weapon concealed on or about the person, OR
who, within the limits of any city, goes armed with a pistol or
revolver, OR any loaded firearm OF ANY KIND, whether concealed or not,
OR who knowingly carries or transports in a vehicle a pistol or
revolver, commits an aggravated misdemeanor.
You will note that the statute appears to address those who carry
concealed firearms on their person OR those who knowingly carry
concealed weapons in their vehicles. The statute however addresses
BOTH issues in an ?and/or? manner. This is evident by the 1999
amendment (House File 414) which effectively merges the two issues of
carrying on a person and carrying in a vehicle.
This amendment gave new rise to Iowa Code 483A.36 (Manner of
conveyance) which clearly and unequivocally states:
?NO PERSON, except as permitted by law, shall HAVE OR CARRY a gun IN
OR ON A VEHICLE on a public highway, unless the gun is taken down or
totally contained in a securely fastened case, and its barrels and
magazines are unloaded.?
You?ll notice that here the statute makes absolutely no mention of
?knowingly? doing so.
In a court of law however you may be able to use the defense that
because there was no INTENT to commit a crime (a prerequisite to most
criminal acts) there could have been no crime. In other words, if you
didn?t know the crime might happen, would happen or was happening, you
are not responsible for its occurrence nor were you a party of the
commission if it. Unfortunately the potential success and end result
of this defense would rest almost entirely on the discretion of the
judge (or jury, if the matter is tried that way) and ? this is most
important - how he interprets the law in his court.
In summary, it is hard to defend the issue when a loaded and concealed
firearm comes out of your car. In my opinion (based on by 20+ years of
professional law enforcement experience) the ?ignorance? defense is
probably your best bet in hopes that this will appeal to the judge and
make complete sense. On the other hand, there is always the general
rule that ?ignorance of the law is no excuse? so you do run a very
real risk of being convicted anyway. The bottom line though is that
pleading guilty will certainly result in a criminal conviction while
pleading not guilty due to ignorance of the situation will at least
put you in a position to have your case dismissed on this basis if the
judge is so inclined to do so.
It is also possible that you might argue that the case should be
dismissed on a technicality; that being that the officer who charged
you with violating Iowa Code 724.4 may have more accurately charged
you with Iowa Code 483A.36 instead. Personally I don?t recommend this
because doing so may require you to admit that you did indeed violate
the law but you should not be convicted on the basis that the officer
made a technical error in his reporting of it. Only an attorney can
tell you if the officer actually made an error or not, but assuming he
did, officer error sometimes results in the dismissal of charges. In
other instances this risky defense tactic backfires and the judge
finds that the error is not that great and simply overlooks it. If
that happens you?ll be left standing there to explain why you
admittedly broke the law.
You really should consider consulting at attorney. My guess is that a
clever lawyer can help you get out of this situation to the
satisfaction of everyone involved. Don?t be surprised however if part
of the ?deal? involves the forfeiture of the weapon. If it isn?t yours
this shouldn?t really matter to you, but boy won?t it teach the guy
who left it there a valuable lesson?
I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher
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Carrying a weapon