What Are Considered Weapons Under California Law?
In California, state law limits what weapons can be carried or possessed in different scenarios. Penal Code 626.10 PC lists what type of weapons are prohibited from being carried on the grounds of schools at every level, including public and private universities.
PC 626.10 states that “anyone who brings any dirk, dagger, ice pick, knife with a blade longer than 21/2 inches, folding knife with a locking blade, razor, taser, or stun gun, any instrument that expels a metallic projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, or any spot marker gun, upon the grounds of any public or private school in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12.”
A violation of PC 626.10 is a wobbler that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony crime. Thus, under this statute, it is illegal to carry several types of weapons on school grounds, including:
- Dirks or daggers,
- Ice picks,
- Any knife with a blade longer than 2.5 inches,
- Folding knives,
- Stun guns.
Any items that shoot projectiles, such as BB guns or pellet guns, are also prohibited under this statute. Examples of illegal possession of a weapon on school grounds include:
- A student carrying a stun gun in their backpack for personal protection;
- A parent carrying a taser in their pocket when walking to pick up a child from elementary school
Many scenarios can result in criminal prosecution.
What are Potential Penalties for Penal Code 626.10 PC?
If someone is convicted of carrying a weapon on school grounds, they can face varying levels of punishment. This crime is known as a wobbler offense, which means that a prosecutor can charge an individual with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts and circumstances.
If the prosecutor charges someone with a misdemeanor, the maximum possible penalty is:
- one year in county jail,
- a fine up to $1,000,
- informal summary probation.
If the prosecutor charges a violation as a felony, the individual facing the charge can face up to:
- three years in a California state prison,
- a fine up to $10,000,
- formal felony probation.
The court can also order probation as an alternative to jail or prison. The presiding judge will evaluate each case to determine appropriate sentencing. A prior criminal history can result in significant consequences from the court.
What Are Some Related Offenses?
Other criminal laws in the California Penal Code prohibit the carrying of specific items in different places, such as a school. Some of these related criminal offenses include:
Penal Code 21310 PC - Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. Dirks and daggers include items such as a knife or other instrument that can easily be used as a stabbing weapon. If an individual is convicted of this crime, they can face either a misdemeanor or felony.
Penal Code 21510 - Possession of a switchblade. It is illegal to carry a switchblade on you, in your car, or transfer a switchblade to another person. If individuals are convicted of this crime, they face a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Penal Code 20410 PC – Belt buckle knives - it is against the law to make, possess, transport, manufacture, import, give, lend, sell, or distribute these knives. If you're charged with violating the belt buckle knife law, you could face up to 3 years in prison.
Penal Code 20510 – Cane swords law - it is a criminal offense to manufacture, sell, import, give, or possess a cane sword, which looks like an ordinary cane but has a sharp, bladed object inside. A felony conviction can carry up to three years in state prison.
Penal Code 171.7 PC - Weapons at a public transit facility - it is a crime to knowingly possess or carry a weapon into any "sterile area" of a public transit facility, such as firearms, imitation firearms, BB guns, and more. If convicted, you may face maximum penalties of up to 6 months in county jail and up to $1000 in fines.
Business and Professions Code 25608 - Bringing alcohol into a public school. This law prohibits anyone from bringing alcohol to a school or possessing alcohol on school grounds. If individuals are convicted of this crime, they face a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
What Are the Legal Defenses to This Charge?
Several defenses are available when facing a criminal charge of illegally carrying a weapon on school grounds. The defense that applies to your case depends on the facts and circumstances of the incident and who is involved. Common defenses are discussed below.
The item is not a prohibited weapon under the law: If the item is not listed under PC 626.10, then it is not a prohibited weapon and may legally be carried on school grounds.
The individual is free from prosecution: If the person carrying the weapon is listed under 626.10 as being immune from prosecution, they can legally carry prohibited weapons on school grounds. Examples of individuals who are free from prosecution include police officers, someone assisting a police officer, or a military member on official duties.
There is a Constitutional Violation: If the evidence obtained against an individual is done so in violation of their Constitutional rights, the illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against the individual in criminal prosecution. If the police search someone's home without a warrant or warrant exception, evidence obtained in that search can be excluded from any subsequent case upon a motion filed to the court.
Make sure that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your case to determine what potential defenses are available.
If our law firm is retained early in the case process, you are increasing the chances of a favorable case outcome. For instance, we might be able to negotiate with law enforcement and the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges, called a “DA reject.”
Eisner Gorin LLP are top-ranked criminal lawyers in Los Angeles County and provides legal representation for people charged with crimes across Southern California. You can contact us for an initial case consultation by calling (310) 328-3776 or filling out the contact form.