Brandishing a Weapon in California

Brandishing a Weapon in California

Just a few days ago, a case involving brandishing a weapon in California cropped up in San Jose. At this point, very little is known about the case other than the police responded and the legal phrase “brandishing a weapon” was used.

If brandishing a weapon charges are filed against the person, it means that there’s evidence to support the idea that they violated California Penal Code 417 PC. This law reads:

“Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or who in any manner, unlawfully uses a firearm in any fight or quarrel is punishable.”

It’s important to understand that there is a big difference between getting a legally owned weapon out and showing it to your friends and family. As long as this is done in a safe manner that everyone is comfortable with, you have no worries. However, you do have to be careful about how you handle things. You must make the entire situation very harmless. If you’re in your yard or anywhere else where you could be casually observed by a passerby, you don’t want that person to think you’re brandishing a weapon. 

It’s also important to note that if you’re using the weapon because you’re afraid for your safety, you can’t be accused of brandishing a weapon in California, though you will likely have to prove that you did feel that you were being threatened. 

Brandishing a weapon in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted you could be sentenced to a full year in a county jail. The good news is that once you have successfully completed the sentence, you can arrange to have the matter expunged from your criminal record.

If you are brandishing a firearm it’s possible that the guilty verdict will impact your immigration status and your ability to own a gun.

It is rare for a brandishing a weapon charge to be the only thing a person is charged with. Most of the time other charges such as blackmail, endangerment, and kidnapping, are connected to the case.

Read more >

Can you Legally Carry a Knife in California?

Can you Legally Carry a Knife in California?

California has a reputation for having some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. The intensity of the laws combined with the legal consequences if you’re caught breaking any of the laws while carrying a firearm has prompted many people to leave their firearms at home and explore other means of self-protection while they are out and about. 

A desire to stay out of jail and also have a means of self-protection at their fingertips has prompted many people to wonder if they can legally carry a knife in California?

If you’re considering carrying a knife, the first thing you should know is that California lawmakers have already divided knives into three different categories. These categories are:

• Knives you can’t legally carry
• Knives that you can carry as either an open carry or concealed weapon
• Knives that you’re only allowed to open carry

The general rule of thumb is that if you’re carrying a folding knife, you can openly carry or carry it concealed it provided it’s in the folded position. The blade length isn’t an issue. The only exception to this is switchblades.

Dirk and dagger-style knives fall into the category of knives that you’re allowed to openly carry but not carry concealed. These have blades that are fixed to the handle. They can’t be folded. The law surrounding open carry of dirks and daggers is that if you do have one on your person, it must be properly sheathed.

There are three types of knives you’re not allowed to legally carry (or even own) in California. These knives are:

• Belt Buckle knives
• Switchblade knives
• Ballistic knives

Exactly how much trouble you’ll get in for illegally carrying a knife depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. For example, you’re not allowed to legally carry a switchblade knife in California. If you’re caught with one, you’ll be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum sentence includes six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However, if you were carrying the switchblade while also committing a crime or if you actually threatened someone with the switchblade additional charges will be filed against you and the eventual sentence will be considerably more severe.

In addition to gaining a criminal record and potentially paying a hefty fine and/or spending time in jail, you’ll also have to forfeit the switchblade knife. Since you can’t legally own the knife in California, the court does not have to return it to you.

Read more >

Brass Knuckle Possession in California

Brass Knuckle Possession in California

Brass knuckles are designed to be worn over your hand/fingers. While some people claim to wear brass knuckles for decorative purposes, the real reason brass knuckle are worn is to increase the force of a punch. In addition to maximizing the wearer’s punch force, the brass knuckles also help protect their hands from sustaining injuries during a fight.

It’s believed brass knuckles first became commonplace during ancient Rome when gladiators wore a type of glove called a caestus which gave them an edge on their competition. Since those early days, brass knuckles have evolved. 

California lawmakers aren’t fond of brass knuckles. Penal Code 21810 not only prohibits you from using brass knuckles during a fight but also makes it illegal for you to even own a pair single pair of brass knuckles.

When you read through the law, you’ll discover that you’re strictly prohibited from having anything to do with brass knuckles. You’re not allowed to make brass knuckles, give brass knuckles to another person, sell them, import them, or be in possession of them. 

It’s important to note that you can be in trouble just for grabbing an item and turning it into a makeshift pair of brass knuckles as you prepare for a fight.

Obviously, if you’re caught with brass knuckles, you’re going to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. While the issue seems cut and dry, there are some legal defenses you can use in cases involving brass knuckles, especially when the case merely involves the possession of brass knuckles.

If you haven’t used the brass knuckles and are simply facing a charge of having them in your possession, potential defenses include:

• That the device wasn’t actually brass knuckles, but actually fulfilled a different purpose
• That there wasn’t probable cause for the search the revealed the brass knuckles
• That you’re free from prosecution

In cases involving brass knuckles, free from prosecution indicates a person who has a strong connection to law enforcement who has a legit reason for having/selling/transporting brass knuckles. A majority of the time, charges are never brought against a person who is free from prosecution.

One of the interesting things about cases involving brass knuckles in California is that they are wobbler cases. The prosecutor looks at the details surrounding the case and decides whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

If convicted of misdemeanor brass knuckle possession, the maximum sentence is a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in a county jail.

The maximum sentence connected to a felony brass knuckle possession case in California is three years of imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.

Read more >