COA upholds conviction of man whose gun license expired six days before arrest

A man convicted of carrying a handgun with a license that had expired six days prior to his arrest has lost his appeal of his conviction, with the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling there was sufficient evidence to prove the license was no longer valid.

In William Wilson v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1704-CR-841, William Wilson was in possession of a handgun when he was pulled over by a police officer, whom he told he had a license for the gun. However, the license Wilson showed the officer was expired, so he was arrested, charged and convicted of Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without being licensed.

On appeal, Wilson argued the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed. Writing for the unanimous appellate panel in a three-page opinion, Judge Melissa May said Wilson had admitted to being in possession of the gun on March 18, 2016, while the license he gave the officer had expired six days priors.

“Therefore, Wilson possessed a handgun without being properly licensed,” May wrote. “Without a valid license, Wilson was in violation of the law.”

In a footnote to the Monday opinion, May also addressed Wilson’s argument that Indiana Code section 35-47-2-1 “’requires proof of a culpable mental state.’” The appellate court rejected that argument, with May writing that “Wilson’s knowledge (of) whether his license expired is not an element of the crime” of possession without a license. She specifically referenced R.T. v. State, 848 N.E.2d 326, 330-31 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), which held that “because the crime is defined as carrying a handgun without also possessing a valid license, only presentation of a license that was valid at the time the handgun was carried would negate the crime.”

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