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21310 PC Carrying Concealed Dirk or Dagger

Penal Code 21310 PC makes it a criminal offense in California to carry a concealed dirk or dagger. A dirk or dagger is a knife or other instrument, with or without a handguard, capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon.  If the its use could inflict great bodily injury or death, it fits the description. The most pocket knives are not included in this statute unless the blade is locked into position.

Some examples are stiletto knives and pocket knives with their blades locked into position.

The statute 21310 PC is worded as follows “any person in this state that carries concealed upon the person any dirk or dagger is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment.”

Defenses to this crime include demonstrating that there was no dirk or dagger, the knife was not concealed, and/or the search and seizure was unlawful.  A violation of this code section is a wobbler offense which means that a prosecutor can charge it as misdemeanor or felony.

In this article, the California criminal defense attorneys of Spodek Law Group will teach you the following:

  1. When is carrying a dirk or dagger illegal?
  2. What legal defenses are there to 21310 PC?
  3. What penalties are there for 21310 PC?
  4. Can a concealed dirk or dagger conviction be expunged?
  5. Does a carrying concealed dirk or dagger conviction affect gun rights?
  6. What related offenses are there to 21310 PC?

1. When is carrying a dirk or dagger illegal?

21310 PC is the California law that makes it a crime for a person to carry a concealed dirk or dagger.  To get a conviction, prosecutor is obligated prove that the defendant carried on his person a dirk or dagger, the defendant knew that he was carrying it, it was substantially concealed on the defendant’s person, and the defendant knew that it could readily be used as a stabbing weapon. That fourth element is a question of fact. This means a judge or jury would have to decide it based on all of the facts of a case.

On the other hand, the District Attorney does not have to prove that the defendant used or intended to use the dirk or dagger as a weapon.

Under this statute, the meaning of “dirk” and “dagger”  according to 21310 PC defines a dirk or dagger (sometimes called a dirk knife) is a knife or other instrument, with or without a handguard, that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon, and can indict great bodily injury or death.

Great bodily injury – significant or substantial physical injury.

For the purposes of this statute, folding knives (other than switchblade knives) are considered a dirk or dagger only if the blade is exposed and it is locked into position.  In fact, a person can legally carry a concealed pocketknife if it is closed or if the blade can’t be locked.

A person can also legally carry a dirk or dagger if it is carried in a sheath and it is worn openly, suspended from the waist.

2. What legal defenses are there to 21310 PC?

Skilled defense attorneys can employ a number of legal tactics in a 21310 PC case. Three common defenses are no dirk or dagger, not concealed weapon and/or unlawful search and seizure.

Saying that the defendant carried the concealed knife for self-defense is not a defense to this charge.

This statute only applies to concealed dirks and daggers, and California criminal law has a technical definition of these knives. Therefore, it is a defense for the accused to show that while he may have had a concealed knife, it does not meet the legal definition of a “dirk” or “dagger.”

Also, a defendant can show that he was lawfully carrying a dirk according to the statute.

For the third defense tactic, it is relevant that the police cannot conduct a search or take property without a valid search warrant.  If law enforcement officials obtain evidence through an illegal search and seizure, then the defense can bring a motion to suppress any evidence of the illegal weapon.  This could lead to a dismissal of the charges.

3. What penalties are there for 21310 PC?

Remember that violation of this statute is charged as a wobbler offense.  If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by probation, custody in county jail for up to one year, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000.

On the other hand, if it is charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by felony (or formal) probation, imprisonment in county jail for up to three years, and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.

4. Can a concealed dirk or dagger conviction be expunged?

Indeed, a person can get a criminal record expungement after a dirk or dagger conviction.  This is true as long as the defendant successfully completes probation or a jail sentence, whichever applies.

5. Does a carrying concealed dirk or dagger conviction affect gun rights?

A conviction under this statute may negatively impact a defendant’s gun rights. In California, Convicted felons cannot legally own or possess a gun.  As a misdemeanor, it would not impact gun rights.

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6. What related offenses are there to 21310 PC?

The three crimes related to carrying a concealed dirk or dagger are other prohibited knives, special restrictions on knives in public buildings and schools – PC 171b and 626.10, and brandishing a weapon – PC 417.

The State of California prohibits the possession, sale, manufacture or import of air gauge knives, belt buckle knives, cane swords, undetectable knives, lipstick case knives, shobi-zues and writing pen knives.

Similarly to PC 21310 violations, crimes involving these knives are charged as wobblers.

Penal Code 171b PC makes it illegal for a person to bring any prohibited knives into any state or local public building.

Penal Code 626.10a1 PC makes it a criminal act to bring certain knives, including dirks and daggers, and ice picks onto public or private school grounds.

The brandishing law, Penal Code 417 PC prohibits drawing, exhibiting, or using a weapon in a threatening manner.  If a person brandishes a concealed dirk or dagger, he or she can be charged under both crimes.

For further guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, you are welcome to contact us at Spodek Law Group. We serve clients in Los Angeles, Riverside, Torrance and throughout the Golden State.


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"Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them..."

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"Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet."

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"Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind."

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