California Penal Code Section 21310 PC: Carrying A Concealed Dirk Or Dagger
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
People carrying concealed weapons pose a significant danger to the public at large. As a result, it is illegal to carry a concealed dirk or dagger pursuant to California Penal Code Section 21310 PC.
In order to prove a defendant is guilty of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, the prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:
- The defendant carried on his or her person a dirk or dagger
- The defendant knew that he or she was carrying it
- The dirk or dagger was substantially concealed on the defendant’s person
- AND the defendant knew that it could readily be used as a stabbing weapon.
A dirk or dagger is 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. Most pocketknives and folding knives are not considered to be dirks or daggers unless the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.
A knife carried in a sheath and worn openly on the wearer’s waist is not considered to be concealed. It is not necessary that the defendant intended to use the dirk or dagger as a weapon in order to be criminally liable for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger under California Penal Code Section 21310 PC.
2. Related Offenses
Similar offenses include the following:
- Manufacturing, Selling or Possessing Dangerous Weapons - California Penal Code Section 16590 PC
- Carrying a Switchblade - California Penal Code Section 21510 PC
- Brandishing a Weapon – California Penal Code Section 417 PC
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon – California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) PC
A line cook at a restaurant finishes his shift and has a few drinks with his coworkers before driving home. The cook has a paring knife that he takes home with him and carries in his jacket pocket because he lives in a dangerous area and likes having extra protection. The cook is stopped at a DUI checkpoint on the way home and is ultimately arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. During a search incident to arrest, the police find the paring knife in his jacket, which the cook was wearing at the time of arrest. In addition to the DUI charge, the cook could be charged with carrying a concealed dirk or dagger. The fact that he did not intend to use the knife as a weapon would not be relevant, as long as he knowingly kept it concealed on his person. If the chef had kept the knife on the front seat of his car, or in the trunk, he would not be guilty of this offense.
In another example, a man keeps a folding knife in his pocket, in the folded position. This man would not be criminally liable for carrying a concealed dirk or dagger because folding knives do not fall under the definition of what is a dirk or dagger.
4. Defenses to Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
If the knife was not concealed, if it was worn in a sheath on the defendant’s waist, or if the knife does not fall under the definition of what a dirk or dagger is, a defendant would not be guilty of this offense.
Additionally, if the dirk or dagger is discovered as part of an illegal search, the defendant may be able to argue that law enforcement lacked sufficient probable cause to conduct the search. In these cases, the dirk or dagger could be suppressed in court and could not be used as evidence against the defendant.
Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sent to prison for up to three years.
6. Criminal Defense for Carrying a Concealed Dirk or Dagger
If you have been charged with carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, it is important that you meet with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience. Mr. Kraut is highly skilled at defending those charged with weapons offenses and works hard to ensure his clients’ rights are fully protected.
For more information about carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.