On California Penal Codes 21310 & 16470 – Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
The History and Legalities Surrounding Knives in California
Knives have been an integral tool for humankind for millennia, beginning with stone and progressing to the Bronze and Iron ages. However, throughout history, knives have also served a dual purpose as both practical appliances and deadly weapons. It all depends on the user’s intentions. This is why California has strict legislation concerning the possession and brandishing of a dirk or dagger. Whether you have unknowingly carried a cutlass, or have been attacked with a shiv, our law firm can confidently and consistently help you navigate the Californian justice system in accordance with your specific needs.
The term “dirk” originated during the 16th century, referring to a type of short, pointed edge that Scottish highlanders carried with them throughout their day. In modern times, “dirk” and “dagger” are used interchangeably in a legal sense. Under California Penal Code 16470 PC, a dirk or dagger is defined as a knife or instrument, with or without a hilt, that is readily used as a stabbing weapon and has the potential to cause significant physical injury or death.
Even folding knives are considered deadly weapons if the blade is exposed and locked into position (excluding switchblade knives). You are allowed to carry a folded pocket or utility knife with a closed blade, or an open blade that cannot lock into position. Straight knives and folding knives that are opened and locked can also be carried under California’s ‘open carry’ knife law (Penal Code 20200), as long as the knife is carried in an open sheath attached to your waist. On the other hand, spring-loaded knives such as switchblades and ballistic knives are strictly forbidden, as are “novelty” blades like those found inside a cane handle or a false tube of lipstick.
Violating California law by improperly carrying or concealing a knife can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the specifics of the situation. A misdemeanor charge can result in up to a one-year county jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. On the other hand, a felony charge carries a stiffer penalty of 16 months to three years imprisonment in county jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Given the complexity and severity of this area of law, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation. At our firm, we are adept at both prosecution and defense, and we stay up-to-date on the latest case precedents. Our team of lawyers has dedicated their careers to ensuring that our clients receive the and most just outcome in any case. We at (blank) firm uphold those virtues of justice and fairness, and we are determined to represent our clients with unwavering commitment. Allow us the privilege of representing your cause.
Knife Type | Definition | Legality
— | — | —
Dirk or Dagger | A knife or instrument, with or without a hilt, that is readily used as a stabbing weapon and has the potential to cause significant physical injury or death | Illegal
Folding Knife (excluding switchblades) | Considered a deadly weapon if the blade is exposed and locked into position | Legal with restrictions
Pocket or Utility Knife | Can be carried as long as the blade is closed or if the knife cannot be locked into an open position | Legal with restrictions
Straight and Folding Knives Locked in the Open Position | Can be worn under California’s ‘open carry’ knife law if carried in a sheath worn openly on the waist | Legal with restrictions
Spring-loaded knives, such as switchblades and ballistic knives, and novelty blades | Prohibited | Illegal
Offense | Penalty
— | —
Improperly carrying or concealing a knife (misdemeanor) | Up to one year in county jail or up to a $1,000 fine
Improperly carrying or concealing a knife (felony) | 16 months to three years imprisonment in county jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine
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