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Monday, September 22, 2014

Knife Laws in California: Is It Legal to Carry One ? By Jim March and also Sy Nazif, Esq.

OFF THE WIRE
 The information posted below is from a well-known article written by Jim March on 5/16/2002 titled, "California Knife Laws: A Comprehensive Guide," url:
http://www.ninehundred.com/~equalccw/knifelaw.html
Also Sy Nazif, Esq. article is from the Bailingwire, newsletter.
ML&R
Philip & Bill

FOR THOSE OF US HERE IN O`SIDE CA, it is written out below.
THE LAWS  VARIE  FROM CITY TO CITY, TOWN TO TOWN,
 COUNTY TO COUNTY ALSO....
 California Knife Laws, Since Oceanside PD follows the state statue here it is,
Oceanside City Code 20. 10
Sec. 20.10 – Weapons - Possession in Public - Prohibited
No person shall be or appear in any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or any public place or place open to public view while carrying upon his person, or having in his immediate possession, any dangerous or deadly weapon. This section shall not be construed to duplicate prohibitions of California state statute, or to prohibit the possession of weapons expressly authorized by California state statute.

1. 
SECTION FIVE: DEALING WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT WHEN PACKIN' STEEL
First thing: don't get nervous. If you've read this, you're not going to be breaking any knife laws.  California's knife laws are actually pretty decent, better than most states (even the shall-issue gun permit ones).  If you're nervous, the cop will read that, and he won't know what to think - but the conversation WILL go downhill.
If you're walking past a cop with a legally concealed knife, DO NOT "pat the knife" to make sure the concealment is still effective.  That's the number one way cops spot people packing guns illegally.  They'll think that's what you're doing.  The resulting conversation won't be pleasant.
If there's any chance at all that the guy is gonna search you, politely declare that you're carrying a "pocketknife legal under state law".  Got that?  Tell him where it is on you, let him take control of it.  DO NOT SCARE THE DUDE WITH THE BADGE AND GUN.  Don't reach for nuthin' unless he tells you to do so.  At all times, act like this is just a normal business transaction.
So what if he/she thinks your piece(s) is/are illegal?
You explain that California knife law has changed a bunch of times starting in 1997 and twice more that you know of, so you're not terribly surprised there's confusion.  Calmly explain as much of the relevant Penal Codes as you can recall...if you're into big folders, PC653k and the bit in 12020 about "not readily available if concealed in the closed position" is a start.  If he ain't buying, calmly ask for a supervisor.
If he wants to confiscate your cutlery, ASK FOR A RECEIPT.  If he says anything about "that'll mean you'll get a ticket too, and/or an arrest", stand your ground and calmly ask for a receipt.  He's bluffing because he wants your knife.  Sorry if any cops reading this are offended, but it happens - I've met enough people it's happened to to be a believer, although it hasn't happened to me.  If he just plain takes it without a receipt, get his badge number and/or car number (if the latter is all you can get, record the TIME).  If it was a city or county cop, make a THEFT complaint in detail with your nearest California Highway Patrol station (they investigate local wrongdoing).  If it was CHP, hmmm...complain to the CHP supervisors maybe, or the Sheriff, but for God's sake don't let 'em off clean.
IF YOU HAD TO THREATEN AN ASSAILANT WITH A DRAWN BLADE:
You have two choices: get the hell out of there ASAP and travel far and fast, because odds are, crooks that get chased off by an armed citizen love to file a "he threatened me" complaint and bust YOU.  Bug out.  NOTE: we're talking about a situation in which you haven't committed a crime, and since no actual violence occurred neither did anybody else.  So "fleeing the scene" rules don't really apply.  And you also don't want the SOB coming back with reinforcements and/or heavy artillery.  Time to go!
If that's not possible, because the crook knows where you are or who you are (or have your car's license plate number), jump on 911 and report an attempted crime, pronto.  There are too many lazy cops that just believe the first complaint.  Make yours first.  You'll probably have one major advantage: the crook will have a violent record and you won't.
IF YOU HAD TO ACTUALLY DRAW BLOOD IN DEFENSE:
When the cops show up, there are only three things you should say: I was in fear of my life, I'm too shaken up to talk, I want a lawyer.  (If there are witnesses you know of, point them out to the cops and tell the cops to talk to them.)
Bernie Goetz didn't do that.  He was furious at the four attempted muggers, he made that anger plain in a long discussion down at the station, and he ended up getting charged with murder and attempted murder when it was absolutely clear-cut self defense.
When a cop gets involved in a shooting, they understand that immediately afterwards, he's too shaken to explain clearly what happened.  So most departments give him 24 hours to settle down before talking to him.  But if you're involved in lethal force, some will take advantage of your rattled state to pry garbled statements out of you.  You HAVE the right to remain silent.  Use it.
I'm assuming here that if you drew or used steel, you had a damned good reason.  That's a subject for a much more detailed (not to mention PROFESSIONAL) treatment - see Introduction for some reference works.

Oceanside City Code 20. 10
Sec. 20.10 – Weapons - Possession in Public - Prohibited
No person shall be or appear in any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or any public place or place open to public view while carrying upon his person, or having in his immediate possession, any dangerous or deadly weapon. This section shall not be construed to duplicate prohibitions of California state statute, or to prohibit the possession of weapons expressly authorized by California state statute.

 Knife Laws in California:  Is It Legal Carry One?

Written by Sy Nazif, Esq Taken from the BAILING WIRE,

 was given to me by John, From ABATE,  of CA 



For my first Bailing Wiring Column, I was asked to write about knife laws in California.  After researching the law, I certainly understood why some confusion exists as to what is legal to carry and what isn’t: there are over a dozen statutes on the subject, as well as numerous municipal codes, and inconsistent court decisions that further muddy the water.  This article is intended to shed some light on the rules and inconsistencies in California knife laws.


Of course, I wouldn't be a very good attorney without giving a few caveats before I begin.  First, remember that carrying any weapon, even one that’s legal, can cause you a lot of grief with law enforcement.  Cops routinely write tickets and make arrests for things they incorrectly think is illegal.  Being found “not guilty” will not make up for the time and aggravation of getting arrested and missing work -- not to mention the cost of hiring an attorney.  Also, this article only covers California law.  State laws can vary greatly, and taking a knife that is legal in California over state lines may get you into trouble with federal laws or laws of other states.  Local ordinances may also impact the legality of your knife.

With those warnings out of the way, California laws covering switchblades, daggers, and disguised blades are discussed below.  For those of you with a short attention span, here is the summary: 

In California, the following are illegal:  (1) Any knife with a blade of 2" or longer, that can be opened with a button or the flick of your wrist; (2) concealed possession of any "dirk" or "dagger," i.e., any stabbing device with a fixed blade, regardless of blade length; (3) possession or sale of any disguised blades, i.e., cane swords, writing pen knives, lipstick knives, etc., or any knife that is undetectable to metal detectors; (4) possession of a knife with a blade longer than 2 1/2" on any school grounds; (5) possession of a fixed-blade knife with a blade longer than 2 1/2" on any college or university grounds; and (6) flashing or waiving any knife or weapon in a threatening manner.  Also, certain municipalities have their own laws that may affect the legality of carrying a knife.  In Los Angeles, for example, it's illegal to openly carry any knife with a blade longer than 3". 

Each of the above issues is discusses in greater detail below.

Switchblades  - Penal Code § 653k


Switchblades and other spring-loaded knives are generally illegal in California. Included in the legal definition of switchblade is "[any] knife having the appearance of a pocketknife and includes a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, gravity knife or any other similar type knife, the blade or blades of which are two or more inches in length and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or by any type of mechanism whatsoever."  The statute expressly excludes pocket knives that can be opened with one hand by pushing the blade open with one's thumb, as long as

the knife "has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position."

The statute further states that it is unlawful to : (1) to possess a switchblade in a vehicle, (2) to carry a switchblade anywhere upon one's person, or (3) to transfer or attempt to sell a switchblade to another person. In the 2009 case of People v. S.C., the Court of Appeals held that possession of a switchblade in a person's pocket, boot, etc., is unlawful, even if even if in one's own home.  In other words, it’s illegal to have a switchblade with a 2" or longer blade – period.

It should also be noted that a pocketknife that was legal when manufactured, but is broken or modified so that it will open freely, is a switchblade within the meaning of the statute. For example, in the 2008 case of People v. Angel R., the Court of Appeals examined a conviction over a pocketknife that, as originally manufactured, had a hole in the back of the blade that prevented it from flicking open. The trial court found, however, that the knife had been modified or damaged, and the resistance mechanism did not function so that the knife would open with a flick of the wrist.  Despite the original design of the knife, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction.

Concealed Knives, Dirks, and Daggers - Penal Code § 12020

In California, it is illegal for any person to carry concealed, certain knives, legally described as "dirks" and "daggers," i.e., any fixed-blade knife or stabbing weapon.  Pursuant to the statute, it is illegal to carry concealed upon one's person any fixed-blade knife.  This does not include a legal (non-switchblade) pocketknife, as long as that knife is closed.  Carrying a knife in an openly-worn sheath is not concealment within the meaning of the statute.  As discussed below, however, this law may be impacted by local ordinances.

Cane Swords and other Disguised Blades - Penal Code § 20200 et seq


Any knife or blade that is disguised so as to not look like a weapon is also illegal in California.  This includes, cane swords, belt-buckle knives, lipstick case knives, air gauge knives, writing pen knives, etc.  Blades that are undetectable to metal detectors (e.g., ceramic blades) are also illegal.

Possession of Knives on School Grounds - Penal Code § 626.10


It is illegal for any person to bring or possess "any dirk, dagger, ice pick, knife having a blade longer than 2 1/2 inches, folding knife with a blade that locks into place, [or] razor with an unguarded blade . . . upon the grounds of, or within, any public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12 . . ."  The law with regard to college campuses is similar, but less restrictive.  Subsection (b) of the statute provides that it is illegal for any person to bring or possess "any dirk, dagger, ice pick, or knife having a fixed blade longer than 2 1/2 inches upon the grounds of, or within, any [college or university]."

Brandishing Knives - Penal Code § 417


In California, it is illegal to brandish any deadly weapon, including knives.  The law states that it is unlawful for any person to "draw or exhibit any deadly weapon . . . in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or . . . to unlawfully use a deadly weapon."  This does not include use of such a weapon in self defense.

Local Ordinances - Here's Where the Law Gets Messy


If the laws above seem confusing, as the saying goes, "you ain't seen nothin' yet."  Local ordinances vary from city to city, and county to county.  Worse, California courts have been inconsistent in ruling on the enforceability of these local laws.

For example, in the City of Los Angeles, it is illegal to publicly carry, in plain view, any knife, dirk or dagger having a blade 3" or more in length, any ice pick or similar sharp tool, any straight-edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle.  (There are certain exceptions, such as where the knife is for use in a "lawful occupation, for lawful recreational purposes, or as a recognized religious practice.") The County of Los Angeles has a similar rule, which makes it illegal to openly carry, in public, "any knife having a blade of three inches or more in length; any spring-blade, switch-blade or snap-blade knife; any knife any blade of which is automatically released by a spring mechanism or other mechanical device; any ice pick or similar sharp stabbing tool; any straight-edge razor or any razor blade fitted to a handle."  In other words, it is illegal in Los Angeles County to openly carry any knife with a blade of 3" or longer. 

It gets worse.  Los Angeles Code section 55.01 also makes it illegal to carry any weapon concealed on one's person.  As such, in Los Angeles, you can't openly carry a blade over 3", but you can't carry such a weapon concealed, either.

Interestingly, the Courts have held that the Los Angeles law forbidding carrying a concealed weapon is invalid.  In the 1968 case of People v. Bass, a man was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed folding knife.  The Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, holding that the Los Angeles law conflicted with the state law, and was therefore invalid.  Nonetheless, the Los Angeles law is still on the books.

What is even more interesting is that other, more recent cases completely contradict the decision in People v. Bass.  In the 1985 case of People v. Gerardoi, the defendant was charged with violating a local law of the City of Commerce that is nearly identical to the Los Angeles local law prohibiting carrying blades over 3".  On appeal, the defendant cited the Bass case, arguing that the city code was invalid.  The Gerardoi court rejected the holding of Bass, and found that the city code was valid.

Where does all this information leave us?  The short answer is, in a mess.  There are certainly things that are illegal: any switchblade with a blade 2" or longer, or concealed possession of any knife with a fixed blade.  Other knives may or may not be legal,

depending on how and where you carry them, and where you are in California.  The best this to do is to check local ordinances before deciding to carry a knife or any other weapon in California.  Better yet, think twice before carrying a knife.  As you know, some cops look for any excuse to hassle bikers.

Ride safe, and stay legal.  If either of these fail, call me!

ABOUT SY NAZIF, ESQ.
Sy Nazif is a life-long motorcyclist and an attorney who specializes in biker’s rights and representing motorcycle accident victims in California.  He is a graduate of the esteemed University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, and has worked with AIM, NCOM, and the COC.  He later founded RiderzLaw.com and began his own firm, which is quickly becoming one of the leading motorcycle rights and injury firms in the state.

1-888-5-RIDERZ
This article is written for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sec. 20.10 – Weapons - Possession in Public - Prohibited

No person shall be or appear in any street, alley, sidewalk, parkway or any public place or place open to public view while carrying upon his person, or having in his immediate possession, any dangerous or deadly weapon. This section shall not be construed to duplicate prohibitions of California state statute, or to prohibit the possession of weapons expressly authorized by California state statute.

Oceanside California Knife Laws. As always I am not a lawyer and these videos are strictly for informational Purposes only if you need legal Advice Seek out A Criminal Lawyer. As always read and keep a copy of all pertaining knife laws for yourself, practice stating them so you sound confident and intelligent, you're your best advocate. Stopping the process at the initial contact is better than wining a court case after lots of legal action.

No Length Law for Folding Knives in California
 http://youtu.be/pKlXR1x9xFU

True in general, but some areas like gov buildings, airports have them but if you're smart you won't be carrying any knives into those places to avoid the hassel. For the rest of the state just remember to check out your local ordinaces and Municipal Codes they might have length laws you might need to comply with. This is just merely information to keep yourself a Legal Knife carrying Citizen of California. This video has the Laws you should know and some definitions for terms for with in the laws. Remember these videos are for strictly informational purposes only if you need legal advice seek a Criminal Lawyer.

Over View of California Knife Laws
http://youtu.be/IA54WFX5eww

An Overview of Knife Laws in California, see other videos in series for more detailed information on each law. Do watch parts 1 - 7 because they pertain to all of California, your City / County laws "add" to not "take away" from the overall California laws. Reviewing PC 12020 & PC 653k are "a must" in my opinion because they define what's legal EDC (Every Day Carry). Link, pass on or just show friends these videos, the more people know the less "bad law enforcement" can mess with legal knife carrying citizens. Remember when you travel to other parts of the state those laws pertain to you, so you must know the laws of the area you are "staying in" if you are just passing through an area it's something you can fight in court, the "pass through law" you can't expect to know and follow every municipal code in areas you are passing through. but you should and must abide by the laws in the areas you are staying in. As always I am not a lawyer and these videos are strictly for informational Purposes only if you need legal Advice Seek out A Criminal Lawyer. As always read and keep a copy of all pertaining knife laws for yourself, practice stating them so you sound confident and intelligent, you're your best advocate. Stopping the process at the initial contact is better than wining a court case after lots of legal action.

THANK YOU AGAIN , TO CHECK OUT MORE GO TO JM`S
article written by Jim March on 5/16/2002 titled,
"California Knife Laws: A Comprehensive Guide," url:
http://www.ninehundred.com/~equalccw/knifelaw.html