Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia weapons offense case, requiring the court to determine if a knife counts as a “weapon” under the language of Virginia Code section 18.2-308(A). Ultimately, the court concluded that a knife falls within the category of prohibited items, affirming the defendant’s conviction.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, a young boy was playing football near the defendant’s car. At some point, the boy nearly hit the car with the football. The defendant got upset, and told the boy, “hit my car again and see what happens.” The defendant left, returning with a metal knuckle knife. Initially, the defendant held the knife at his side, but raised it as he approached the boy. The defendant then lifted the boy up and pretended to stab him in the chest and stomach before putting the boy down.
Police later arrested the defendant, confiscating the knife. However, when the arresting officer seized the knuckle knife, he did not know that it was a knife, thinking it was a pair of brass knuckles. At trial, the defendant moved to strike the indictment, arguing that a knuckle knife was not included among the prohibited items in section 18.2-308(A).
Virginia Code section 18.2-308(A) prohibits a person from carrying a hidden weapon. The statute lists a number of prohibited items, including “any pistol, revolver… any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, sling bow, spring stick, metal knuckles, or blackjack…or any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection.”
The trial court rejected the defendant’s motion to strike, finding the defendant guilty. The defendant appealed.
On appeal, the court agreed with the lower court, affirming the defendant’s conviction. The court explained that a knuckle knife is nearly identical to a set of brass knuckles, except that it contains a spring-loaded blade. Specifically, both a knuckle knife and brass knuckles have a metal grip for the user’s hand to fit inside of, and a metal portion that protrudes past the user’s fist.
Given the similarities between a knuckle knife and brass knuckles, the court held that the knuckle knife the defendant possessed was “substantially similar” to bras knuckles, and fell within the scope of section 18.2-308(A). The court explained that the presence of the spring-loaded blade does not disqualify the weapon as a “weapon of like kind” under the terms of the statute.
Have You Been Arrested for a Virginia Weapons Offense?
If you have recently been arrested for a Virginia weapons crime, contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. At Robinson Law, our dedicated team of Virginia criminal defense lawyers has extensive experience handling a wide range of serious misdemeanor and felony offenses on behalf of our clients. We understand the significant stress that pending criminal charges have on your life, and will aggressively defend your rights at every step of the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 703-542-3616 today.