Modifications To A Baseball Bat Can Lead To Felony Charges (PC 22210)
A California man who was pulled over for a minor traffic violation found out that some minor modifications to a baseball bat can lead to felony charges!
Jack Davis’ Arrest
In 2010, Jack Davis was pulled over by Deputy Hernandez, of the Napa County Sheriff’s Department. Hernandez asked Davis to step out of his truck and asked if he had any weapons on him. Davis said he had a pocket knife. Hernandez found one knife clipped to the outside of Davis’ right front pants pocket, which Hernandez understood to be lawful because it was not concealed, and a second knife inside defendant’s vest.
Hernandez asked Davis if he had any other weapons, and Davis said he had a bat in the back seat of his vehicle. Hernandez found the bat with a number of holes had been drilled partially through the handle and a leather wrist strap. Hernandez believed that the holes would make the bat lighter or make it easier to grip it. The bat had been painted black, and had two red lightning bolts drawn on it.
Davis told Hernandez that he had the bat because he repossessed vehicles late at night and needed the bat for protection. Hernandez also found some tools in Davis’ vehicle, which had red “SS” lightning bolts imprinted on them. Davis told Hernandez he was an electrician and used the lightning bolts to mark his tools.
Davis was prosecuted for possession of a Billy Club under Penal Code section 22210. That statute prohibits possession of “any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.”
At his trial, Davis testified that he supplemented his income by repossessing vehicles for a finance company. In the course of his work, he had “been shot at, [had] had baseball bats swung at [him], [had] been hit in the face by girls, [had] been kicked, [and] punched . . . .” He kept the bat for self-defense, but under California law, that was not a defense to possession of a Billy Club. If the bat can reasonably be used as a weapon, it does not matter that it is only for the purpose of self-defense in a possession of a Billy Club case.
After Davis was convicted of possessing a dangerous weapon, he appealed his case. The Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction, saying in part: “Here, the bat had been modified in a way [that] the jury could reasonably conclude made it more useful as a weapon: the holes in its handle could reasonably be seen to make it easier to grip, and the strap could make it easier to carry and to swing. Moreover, defendant admitted to (Deputy) Hernandez at the time of his arrest that he needed the bat for protection—i.e., as a weapon. On this record, the jury could properly conclude the bat was a billy.”
Moral of the story: California’s laws relating to weapons and weapons possession are old and often make little if any sense given modern realities. We find that cops, prosecutors, and even Judges interpret these laws incorrectly on a regular basis!
California Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are charged with any type of weapons offense, call the California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. With over 40 years of experience successfully defending clients against weapons possession charges, we have the knowledge and skill to get you the best possible result for your case. We have offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Ventura, West Covina, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. Call us today at 877-4-NO-JAIL or 877-466-5245. We will be there when you call.