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Penal Code 21810 PC - Possession of Brass Knuckles

Posted by Sam Israels | Jun 15, 2024

California Penal Code 21810 PC is the law making it a crime to manufacture, import, sell, give, lend, or have possession of metal or brass knuckles, a "wobbler" that can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony.

California Penal Code 21810 PC - Possession of Brass Knuckles
Penal Code 21810 PC makes it a crime to manufacture or possess metal or brass knuckles.

Simply put, it is illegal to possess, make, or sell brass knuckles, also called metal knuckles. These are metal objects shaped to fit around knuckles or fingers and sometimes attached to a knife. Brass knuckles are commonly used for fighting.

​"Possession" of brass knuckles means that you either had them on your person or they were within immediate physical reach. Constructive possession means you have the ability and access to control the brass knuckles.

​For example, suppose you had the brass knuckles in your pocket or your desk drawer. In that case, you would qualify as possessing possession for the law's purposes.

PC 21810 says, "Except as provided in Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17700) of Division 2 of Title 2, any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses any metal knuckles is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment under subdivision (h) of Section 1170."

Brass Knuckles - Quick Facts

Let's review some essential facts about the possession of brass knuckles law in the state of California:

  • Brass knuckles are metal objects worn on a hand to increase the power of a punch, which can be dangerous and lethal.
  • Penal Code 21810 PC prohibits brass knuckles, meaning possessing, manufacturing, and selling them is illegal.
  • It's illegal to carry brass knuckles in your pocket, buy them outside California, and then bring them back.
  • Brass knuckles are illegal under the state's law on generally prohibited weapons law defined under Penal Code 16590 PC.

What Are Related Crimes?

Several California crimes are related to Penal Code 21810 PC possession of brass knuckles, such as the following:

  • Penal Code 21510 PC - possession of a switchblade. This law prohibits you from carrying, possessing in public, selling, or giving away a switchblade, a misdemeanor. Penal Code 17235 gives a legal definition of a switchblade.
  • Penal Code 16470 PC - dirk or dagger. This law defines dirks and daggers as knives that can be used as stabbing weapons. It does not matter whether they have a handguard or how long the blade is.
  • Penal Code 20410 PC - belt buckle knives. This prohibits you from manufacturing, importing, selling, giving away, or possessing a belt buckle knife, a knife made as part of a belt buckle with a blade of at least 2 ½ inches.
  • Penal Code 20610 - lipstick case knife. This law makes it a crime to create, import, sell, give, or possess a lipstick case knife, a wobbler, that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
  • Penal Code 20710 PC - possession of a shobi-zue. This law makes it a wobbler crime to create, import, sell, give, or possess a shobi-zue or a pole with a knife hidden in it
  • Penal Code 22410 PC - possession of shurikens. This law makes it a wobbler crime to create, import, sell, give, or possess a shuriken.
  • Penal Code 24710 PC - wallet gun. This law applies to wallet guns or firearms mounted or enclosed in a case. It's illegal for someone to possess or manufacture them, import them into California, sell, give, or lend them.

What are the PC 21810 Penalties?

The laws on prohibited weapons are typically "wobblers" that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony, based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

If you are convicted of possession of brass knuckles as a misdemeanor, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to one year in county jail.
  • A fine of up to $1,000;
  • Informal summary probation upon conviction.

If the possession of brass knuckles is a felony, you will face the following penalties:

  • Pp to three years in state prison.
  • a fine of up to $10,000.
  • formal felony probation.

Judges have the discretion to sentence a defendant to probation instead of jail or prison.

A probation sentence for a felony conviction of PC 21810 is known as formal probation, which a probation officer monitors. Probation for misdemeanor convictions is known as informal, summary, court, or misdemeanor probation, which the court monitors.

For non-citizens, a felony possessing a brass knuckles conviction can impact their immigration status if they are green card holders or are in the United States on a visa.

What Are the PC 21810 Defenses?

As discussed below, a California criminal defense lawyer could use several strategies against Penal Code 21810 PC possessing brass knuckles.

Defenses for Possession of Metal Knuckles

We can argue that the object you possessed does not meet the statutory definition of brass knuckles, so perhaps we can say there was no "possession" of metal knuckles.

Perhaps we can argue that the police illegally seized the brass knuckles or other evidence in the case or that there was a forced or coerced confession.

If law enforcement uses overbearing techniques to get a confession, we might be able to use it as a valid legal defense, and the judge could dismiss the case.

The court could suppress illegally acquired evidence after a legal motion from the defense. If the evidence is suppressed, it could lead to a dismissal of the charges.

Perhaps we can negotiate prefiling to convince the prosecutor not to file formal criminal charges, called a "DA reject." Contact us for more information. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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