Review of California Penal Code 21810 PC
Brass knuckles are metal objects worn around a hand to increase the power and destructive ability of a punch. Many brass knuckles are shaped to fit around a clenched fist.
The force from a punch by an individual using brass knuckles can be very dangerous and even lethal. Brass knuckles (BK) are prohibited in California under Penal Code 21810 PC, which states that it is a criminal offense to manufacture, sell, or possess them. Some examples of what would be considered illegal include:
- Carrying brass knuckles in your pocket;
- Buying a flat piece of metal and machining it to fit around your fist;
- Buying brass knuckles outside the state and bringing them back.
Brass knuckles are prohibited in California under the state's statute on generally prohibited weapons. This statute can be found in the California Penal Code 16590 PC.
Penal Code 21810 PC states, “anyone in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale or offers for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses any metal knuckles are punishable by county jail imprisonment not exceeding one year.”
If you are caught with prohibited weapons in California, you could be facing harsh consequences. Examples of illegal weapons include cane swords, switchblade knives, dirk and daggers, nunchucks, stun guns and tasers, and belt buckle knives.
The statutes on prohibited weapons are usually “wobblers” that can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of your case. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will examine this law in greater detail below.
What are the Potential Penalties for a Brass Knuckles Conviction?
As noted, possession of brass knuckles is considered a wobbler offense. In California, a wobbler offense is a criminal offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
This decision will be made depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Wobbler crimes are unique in that respect. If the prosecutor charges the possession of brass knuckles as a misdemeanor, then a judge can impose:
- up to one year in jail,
- a fine of up to $1,000, and
- informal summary probation upon conviction.
The sentencing judge can sentence a defendant to misdemeanor probation instead of jail. If the possession of brass knuckles is charged as a felony, then a judge can impose:
- up to three years in prison,
- a fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction, and
- formal felony probation.
The sentencing judge can sentence a defendant to felony probation instead of jail or prison.
How Does a Conviction Affect Immigration Status?
A conviction for possession of brass knuckles may affect your immigration status if you are a green card holder or in the United States on a visa.
Crimes of moral turpitude, or aggravated felonies, can result in the deportation of an individual or the individual being deemed inadmissible. If an individual is deemed inadmissible, they will be denied entry into the United States.
Can this Offense Be Expunged?
Yes, in certain situations. An expungement for a conviction for the possession of brass knuckles is possible under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC.
Possession of brass knuckles convictions can only be expunged if they are misdemeanors because felonies cannot be expunged in California. If the case resulted in a felony conviction for possession of brass knuckles, then it is not expungable under California law.
What Are Some Related California Statutes?
In California, there are several state criminal offenses related to the possession of brass knuckles. The related crimes include illegal acts with a shobi-zue, lipstick case knife, shurikens, etc. They are defined as:
- Penal Code 21510 PC – possession of a switchblade,
- Penal Code 22010 PC – possession of nunchucks,
- Penal Code 21110 PC – ballistic knife,
- Penal Code 22210 PC – possession of a baton,
- Penal Code 20610 PC – lipstick case knife,
- Penal Code 16470 PC – carrying a dirk or dagger,
- Penal Code 20410 PC – belt buckle knives,
- Penal Code 20910 PC - writing pen knives,
- Penal Code 24410 PC – possessing a cane gun,
- Penal Code 22810 PC - unlawful use of tear gas,
- Penal Code 626.10 PC - weapons on school grounds,
- Penal Code 11418 PC - weapons of mass destruction,
- Penal Code 12556 PC - Imitation Firearms Law,
- Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace,
- Penal Code 647(f) PC – public intoxication,
- Penal Code 243(d) PC – aggravated battery,
- Penal Code 29800 PC - felon in possession of a firearm,
- Penal Code 20710 PC - possession of a shobi-zue. A shobi-zue is a pole with a knife concealed inside.
- Penal Code 22410 PC - possession of shurikens. Shurikens are sharp metal objects, also known as throwing stars.
All of the above offenses are wobblers that can result in up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if a misdemeanor charge, three years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000 if a felony charge.
What Are the Possible Defenses for a Brass Knuckles Charge?
A few defenses can be employed to defend the possession of brass knuckles charge. The typical defenses for this kind of offense include:
- The object used does not meet the statutory definition of brass knuckles;
- No possession of brass knuckles;
- The individual is free from prosecution under Penal Code 22010 PC;
- The police illegally procured the brass knuckles or other evidence in the case; or
- Forced or coerced confession.
The court can suppress illegally obtained evidence upon the legal motion of the defense. If the evidence is suppressed, it could lead to a dismissal of the charges.
Similarly, if law enforcement used overbearing techniques to coerce a confession, we could potentially exploit this police misconduct as a legal defense. If we can show you coerced him into confessing, the judge could dismiss the case.
If someone is free from prosecution, the law allows them to possess brass knuckles. Law enforcement members are free from prosecution due to the possession of brass knuckles.
If our law firm is retained early in the case process, you will increase your chances of a favorable outcome on the case. For example, we might be able to negotiate with law enforcement and the prosecuting agency to convince them not to file formal criminal charges in the first place. This is known as a “DA reject,” simply declining to prosecute the case.
The top-rated Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm of Eisner Gorin LLP provides legal representation for people across Southern California. To contact our office for an initial case review, call (310) 328-3776, or fill out the contact form.