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California Penal Code 21510 Carrying a Switchblade

May 14, 2019 | Criminal Law

Under California Penal Code 21510 it is criminal offense to carry a switchblade knife on one’s person, possess in the driver’s area of a vehicle in a public place, sell or offer to sell or provide a switchblade to another person.

What is Unlawful under PC Section 21510?

PC Section 21510 makes it illegal to:

  • Carry a switchblade knife on person
  • Possess a switchblade knife in the driver’s area of a vehicle in a public place
  • Sell or offer to sell or expose a switchblade knife
  • Loan or provide a switchblade to another person

Prosecutor must establish the following elements to prove that a defendant is guilty of carrying or providing a switchblade.

  • Defendant possessed or offered to sell or provide a switchblade knife to another person
  • Defendant did this intentionally
  • Defendant was aware that the knife had the characteristics of a switchblade

Definition of a Switchblade Knife

California Penal Code Section 17235 defines switchblade knife as following:

  • A knife with an appearance of a pocketknife with a blade or blades that at least two or more inches in length
  • That can be released automatically with by flicking of a button, pressuring on the handle, or flipping of the wrist.

There are many types of knives that can qualify a switchblade, such as gravity knives, butterfly or batanga knives, spring blades and snap blade knives. A “switchblade knife” does not include a type of knife that can be opened with one hand by putting thumb pressure on a stud which is attached to the knife.

Legal Defense for PC Section 21510 Charges

  • The knife is not a switchblade

California PC Section 17235 provides an exact description of a switchblade and in case the knife lacks the characteristics of the legal definition, defendant can’t be held criminally liable.

Lack of knowledge of presence

Defendant must be aware of carrying a switchblade on his person or vehicle. In case he didn’t know that it was in his bag or car then this defense can be applicable. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor, but defendant will have to show some evidence that the bag, coat or car belonged to another person.

Penalties for Violating California Penal Code 21510

Under Penal Code 21510 Carrying a switchable is a misdemeanor and can be punished by:

  • Up to six months in a county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Misdemeanor probation

Aggravating Factors in Penal Code 21510 Charges

Defendant is more likely to be sentenced to jail time instead of probation in case the following aggravating factors are present:

  • Defendant has prior criminal history
  • Defendant has a history of violence
  • Defendant had intention to use the switchblade as a weapon
  • Defendant is a gang member
  • Defendant resisted arrest or not cooperative

Related Offenses

  • Brandishing a Weapon: California PC Section 417
  • Carrying Dirk or Dagger: California PC Sections 21310 and 16470
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon: California PC Section 245
  • Possession of Prohibited Weapons: California PC Section 16590

Glendale Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with Penal Code 21510 carrying a switchblade we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation with a skilled and experienced Glendale criminal defense lawyer.