Many violent crimes in San Diego are committed using dangerous knives. In an effort to protect the public, state law prohibits anyone from carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. Violating state law by carrying a concealed knife can have serious consequences. When charged as a felony, the crime is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
If you have been arrested for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in San Diego it’s important to ask for help. At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, we have over 16 years of experience and have successfully represented thousands of clients. Call our San Diego criminal defense attorneys today to find out how we can help you protect your future.
Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger – Penal Code 21310 PC
California Penal Code 21310 PC prohibits carrying “concealed upon the person any dirk or dagger.” In other words, it is illegal to knowingly carry a concealed knife that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death. Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in San Diego.
What Are Dirks and Daggers?
Knives are not covered under the state’s general concealed carry laws. Instead, Penal Code 21310 PC is reserved for crimes involving dangerous knives. Specifically, dirks and daggers. So, what is a dirk? What is a dagger?
Dirks and daggers can be defined as “a knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death.” Put another, any knife that can inflict fatal wounds or substantial physical injury can be considered a dirk or dagger.
However, there are certain knives that may not be categorized as a dirk or dagger. A switchblade, for example, will only be categorized as a dirk or dagger if its blade is exposed and locked. It’s important to note that it’s still illegal to carry a switchblade, whether open or concealed, at any time in San Diego. Switchblades are knives with a retractable blade that is at least two inches long. If you have a switchblade in your possession, the charge will likely depend on whether it was (a) concealed and/or (b) open or closed.
When Is a Dirk or Dagger Concealed?
Penal Code 21310 PC only applies to dirks and daggers that are “concealed.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the knife must be entirely hidden or out of view. Courts have ruled that substantial concealment of a dirk or dagger is enough. As a result, any attempt to hide or shield a dirk or dagger can be considered unlawful concealment.
If a dirk or dagger is carried in compliance with the state’s open carry law, it will not be considered to be concealed. Penal Code 2020 PC explains that “a knife carried in a sheath that is worn openly suspended from the waist is not concealed.” You cannot be convicted of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger if you fully complied with open carry requirements.
Do I Have to Intend to Use the Dirk or Dagger?
No. Penal Code 21310 applies whenever you carry a concealed dirk or dagger on your person. However, the state must be able to prove that you had the requisite knowledge to commit the crime. Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is a crime if you:
- Knew that you had possession of the weapon on your person; AND
- Knew that the weapon was readily capable of causing a stabbing injury.
So, it’s not enough to know that you have the weapon in your possession. You must also be aware of the weapon’s dangerous nature. The fact that you didn’t intend to use the dirk or dagger is irrelevant for the purposes of 21310 PC.
What Does it Mean to Carry a Dirk or Dagger Upon the Person?
Penal Code 21310 PC applies when you carry a concealed dirk or dagger “upon the person.” Courts have explained that “upon the person” not only applies to weapons that are in your pockets or strapped to your body, but also to weapons that are in your immediate control. For example, a dirk or dagger concealed in your briefcase could be considered to be “upon the person.”
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
In California, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is a wobbler. This simply means that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The specific charge will depend on an analysis of factors relevant to your case. These may include your criminal record and whether anyone was harmed by your conduct. You may be more likely to be charged with a felony if you possess a dirk or dagger that is illegal under state law. These can include cane swords, shobi-zue, belt buckle knives, or writing pen knives.
Misdemeanor: When charged as a misdemeanor, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is punishable by:
- 12 months in a San Diego County jail;
- $1,000 in fines; and
Felony: When charged as a felony, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is punishable by:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a San Diego County Jail;
- $10,000 in fines; and
You will also be burdened with a criminal record if you do not already have one. Having a record can make it difficult to find and keep a job, rent or buy a home, and otherwise live a normal life. It’s important to defend yourself when you are accused of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in violation of state law.
Defending Criminal Charges for Concealed Carry of a Dirk or Dagger
You cannot be convicted for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger unless the state proves that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You can make the prosecutor’s job difficult by asserting a strong defense. Defenses that can help when you are accused of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger include:
- The knife could not have inflicted great bodily injury or death
- The knife cannot be categorized as a dirk or dagger
- You didn’t know you had the dirk or dagger in your possession
- You didn’t know the dirk or dagger could inflict immediate stabbing injuries, or
- The dirk or dagger was not concealed.
You can also argue that you have been falsely accused or are the victim of mistaken identity.
The best defenses will be backed with evidence and testimonial support. At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, our attorneys know how to investigate your case to get the evidence we need. Call us today to learn more.
San Diego Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger Attorneys
Have you been arrested for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in San Diego? Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj for immediate legal assistance. Our attorneys understand that a conviction can affect you for the rest of your life. We’re prepared to help you fight to protect your future. Call us today to schedule your free consultation with our experienced legal team. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get started on your defense.