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Brass Knuckle Possession in California

Brass knuckles are designed to be worn over your hand/fingers. While some people claim to wear brass knuckles for decorative purposes, the real reason brass knuckle are worn is to increase the force of a punch. In addition to maximizing the wearer’s punch force, the brass knuckles also help protect their hands from sustaining injuries during a fight.

It’s believed brass knuckles first became commonplace during ancient Rome when gladiators wore a type of glove called a caestus which gave them an edge on their competition. Since those early days, brass knuckles have evolved. 

California lawmakers aren’t fond of brass knuckles. Penal Code 21810 not only prohibits you from using brass knuckles during a fight but also makes it illegal for you to even own a pair single pair of brass knuckles.

When you read through the law, you’ll discover that you’re strictly prohibited from having anything to do with brass knuckles. You’re not allowed to make brass knuckles, give brass knuckles to another person, sell them, import them, or be in possession of them. 

It’s important to note that you can be in trouble just for grabbing an item and turning it into a makeshift pair of brass knuckles as you prepare for a fight.

Obviously, if you’re caught with brass knuckles, you’re going to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. While the issue seems cut and dry, there are some legal defenses you can use in cases involving brass knuckles, especially when the case merely involves the possession of brass knuckles.

If you haven’t used the brass knuckles and are simply facing a charge of having them in your possession, potential defenses include:

  • That the device wasn’t actually brass knuckles, but actually fulfilled a different purpose
  • That there wasn’t probable cause for the search the revealed the brass knuckles
  • That you’re free from prosecution

In cases involving brass knuckles, free from prosecution indicates a person who has a strong connection to law enforcement who has a legit reason for having/selling/transporting brass knuckles. A majority of the time, charges are never brought against a person who is free from prosecution.

One of the interesting things about cases involving brass knuckles in California is that they are wobbler cases. The prosecutor looks at the details surrounding the case and decides whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

If convicted of misdemeanor brass knuckle possession, the maximum sentence is a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in a county jail.

The maximum sentence connected to a felony brass knuckle possession case in California is three years of imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.