Dirk or Dagger Possession – Prosecution (Penal Code Section 21310)
Dirk or dagger possession in California involves four elements, each of which a prosecutor bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be found guilty of violating California law prohibiting unlawful possession of a concealed weapon pursuant to Penal Code Section 21310 (PC 21310).
In this section, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich identify and explain these elements so that you may better understand how you can be prosecuted for this offense.
1. You Possessed a Weapon
The first element that must be proven is whether you actually possessed an object that can be defined as a dirk or dagger somewhere on your person or in your property. A knife is fairly obvious. However, other objects, such as a screwdriver, may be considered a dirk or dagger, if it was carried on your person and it was substantially concealed.
Other factors, such as where you were at the time when the object was discovered may contribute to your guilt. Carrying a concealed screwdriver on a construction site might not qualify as dirk or dagger possession, whereas doing so late at night near someone using an ATM machine may contribute to your being found guilty.
2. You Substantially Concealed the Weapon
If you carried a knife in a sheath outside your clothing on your waist, you are not concealing it. However, if the knife was in your pocket, or tucked into the waistband of your pants or inside your socks or boots, this could satisfy the element of being substantially concealed.
Substantially concealed does not mean the knife must have been completely hidden. For example, let’s say you tucked the knife into your waistband, but left the handle exposed. As long as the weapon is at least partially concealed, you could be held liable for this offense. Similarly, as long as the weapon itself is at least partially concealed in a case or by some other means, it is irrelevant if could be identified.
3. You Knowingly Possessed the Weapon
Perhaps the most important element that must be proven in a prosecution for unlawful dirk or dagger possession is that you had to have known you were carrying a prohibited knife.
If you carried a knife in your waistband, a prosecutor will not have trouble proving you knew it was there.
Additionally, it does not matter if you openly carry a knife on your body, or it is inside something you own, such as a tool chest. Dirk or dagger possession doesn’t mean you carried it on or near your body. Rather, dirk or dagger possession simply means having control over the object.
Even if you possessed the knife for a good reason, such as work or self-defense, you still had knowledge of it and could be in violation of California law. It does not matter how you intended to use it.
However, let’s say you borrowed someone else’s backpack, and he or she left a knife or similar instrument capable of use as a stabbing weapon inside it. The police stop you for a speeding ticket and you consent to a search of the belongings in your car. During the search, the weapon is found; however, you did not know it was there. It may be difficult for the prosecutor to prove you had knowledge of the weapon’s existence.
4. You Knew the Object Could Be Readily Used as a Stabbing Weapon
A jury may consider other facts of the case in order to decide whether you knew the object in your possession could be used as a stabbing weapon. Again, where you were at the time the object was discovered will go a long way towards determining your guilt. Additionally, if there have been alterations made to the object that would make it into a weapon, this may also be a factor in determining your guilt.
For example, let’s say you fastened a handle to a razor blade with duct tape, to make it easier to wield. This could be described as a “shank” and may meet the definition of a stabbing weapon. In this case, the prosecutor may be able to prove that you knew the object could be used to stab someone.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight a Dirk or Dagger Possession Charge
If you or someone you care about has been charged with unlawful dirk or dagger possession in violation of Penal Code 21310, you should contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. You could be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of your offense.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending clients facing weapons-related charges. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich is your best chance to avoid the serious consequences of violating California weapons laws such as jail time, heavy fines and potential loss of your right to carry a firearm.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the very best legal representation. We will help you get the best result possible in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
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