Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
Knives can cause a lot of damage, and the state will aggressively pursue criminal charges if it believes that you intentionally tried to conceal a dirk or dagger on your person. Since the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, the consequences of a conviction can be incredibly harsh. If you have been arrested for carrying a concealed knife you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
At The Rodriguez Law Group, our attorneys have experience both prosecuting and defending criminal cases. This dual-experience provides us with a unique perspective and understanding of criminal law and procedure in California. As your attorneys, we will use the benefit of our unique experience to your advantage. Contact our San Diego weapon defense lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case and answer any questions you have.
Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger – Penal Code 21310
California has some of the strictest weapon-related laws in the country. Under Penal Code 21310 PC, it is generally illegal to intentionally carry a concealed a concealed dirk or dagger on your person. It’s important to note that the law refers specifically to “dirks” and “daggers” rather than knives. This is because it can be legal to carry certain concealed knives. Dirks and daggers are considered to be more dangerous and pose a bigger threat to public safety.
When you are arrested for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty. In order to do this, it must prove each element of the crime:
- You carried a dirk or dagger on your person
- You knew you had a dangerous weapon in your possession, and
- The dirk or dagger was substantially concealed.
Dirks and Daggers
In California, a dirk or dagger is defined as “a knife or other instrument…that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death.” It does not matter whether or not the dirk or dagger has a handguard. In most situations, switchblades are not considered to be dirks or daggers unless the blades are exposed and locked into position.
Knowledge You Had a Dangerous Weapon
It is only a crime to carry a concealed dirk or dagger if:
- You knew that you were carrying the concealed weapon; and
- You knew that the dirk or dagger could readily be used as a stabbing weapon.
You cannot be convicted if you didn’t know that you had the weapon in your possession or if you didn’t know it could be used at a moment’s notice as a stabbing device.
The dirk or dagger in your possession must also be concealed. However, this does not necessarily mean that the entire weapon must be out of sight. Under 21310 PC, the dirk dagger must only be “substantially concealed.” In truth, you could be charged with the crime if your dirk or dagger is even partially concealed on your person.
Open Carry Exception: There are certain exceptions to the “substantial concealment” requirement. Under Penal Code 20200 PC, a dirk or dagger will not be considered to be “concealed” if it is “carried in a sheath that is worn openly suspended from the waist.” The open carry exception does not apply to illegal weapons or switchblades.
Carrying a Switchblade in Los Angeles
Switchblades can be, but are not always, classified as dirks or daggers. Is it legal to carry a switchblade if it is not considered a dirk or dagger? No. State law makes the possession of a switchblade, whether open or concealed, a crime.
What is a switchblade? Penal Code 17235 PC defines “switchblade knife” to mean a knife:
- Having the appearance of a pocketknife;
- With a releasable blade at least 2 inches in length.
“Releasable” means that the blade can be triggered by “the flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist” or other mechanisms. However, knives that can be opened with resistance using one thumb are not considered switchblades.
Switchblades can include:
- Swing-blade knives
- Snap-blade knives; and
- Gravity knives.
Carrying a switchblade in Los Angeles is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
Knowingly carrying a concealed dirk or dagger can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The charges you face will likely depend on careful consideration of many factors, including:
- Your criminal record
- The type of weapon you concealed
- The degree to which it was concealed, and
- Any harm caused by your conduct.
Certain dirks and daggers are illegal in California. These include cane swords, belt buckle knives, writing pen knives, and shobi-zues. You are more likely to be charged with a felony if you are found in possession of an illegal concealed dirk or dagger.
As a misdemeanor, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is punishable by:
- 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines.
As a felony, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is punishable by:
- $10,000 in fines and
- 2, 3, or 5 years in a California state prison.
A sentence for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger can also include probation, for which you may be required to complete community service and mandatory counseling.
Defending Charges for Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
Don’t panic if you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. You have the right to defend yourself against any criminal charges you may face. A strong defense can make it difficult for the state to build a strong case against you.
Defenses that can help you when you have been accused of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger include:
- The knife does not qualify as a “dirk” or “dagger”
- You did not know you had the weapon in your possession
- You did not know that the weapon could be readily used as a stabbing device, or
- The knife was not unlawfully concealed.
You can also challenge the state if your Constitutional rights have been violated. Evidence gathered as a result of an illegal search, seizure, or arrest can be excluded from your criminal case. Contact an attorney immediately if you believe that your fundamental rights have been violated.
Los Angeles Concealed Dirk and Dagger Defense Attorneys
Have you been arrested for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in Los Angeles? You have the right to defend yourself, and our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can help. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule a free consultation. We know that your future is at stake and will do everything we can to protect it. Call today to learn more.