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Penal Code 21810 PC - Possession of Brass Knuckles

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Apr 12, 2024

Brass knuckles are metal objects worn around a hand to increase a punch's power and destructive ability. They are shaped to fit around a clenched fist. The force from these punches can be perilous and even lethal. 
California Penal Code 21810 PC prohibits brass knuckles (BK) by making it a crime to possess, sell, or manufacture them. You can violate this law by carrying brass knuckles in your pant pocket or buying a flat piece of metal to machine it to fit around your fist.
California Penal Code 21810 PC - Possession of Brass Knuckles
PC 21810 makes it a crime to sell, manufacture, import, or possess brass knuckles.
California Penal Code 16590 PC is the statute on generally prohibited weapons, which include brass knuckles, cane swords, switchblade knives, dirk and daggers, and belt buckle knives.

PC 21810 says, “Any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses any metal knuckles is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

Prohibited weapons are typical “wobblers” that can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the details. Let's review this state law further below.

What Are the Related Crimes? 

In California, several crimes are related to the PC 21810 possession of brass knuckles, such as the following: 
  • Penal Code 21510 PC – switchblade knife,
  • Penal Code 22010 PC – nunchucks,
  • Penal Code 21110 PC – ballistic knife,
  • Penal Code 20610 PC – lipstick case knife,
  • Penal Code 16470 PC – dirk or dagger,
  • Penal Code 20410 PC – belt buckle knives,
  • Penal Code 24410 PC – cane gun,
  • Penal Code 22410 PC – shurikens,
  • Penal Code 243(d) PC – aggravated battery.

What are the Penalties for PC 21810? 

Penal Code 21810 PC states that possession of brass knuckles can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony (wobbler), depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Suppose you are convicted of a PC 21810 misdemeanor, then a judge can impose the following penalties:
  • up to one year in jail,
  • a fine of up to $1,000, and
  • informal summary probation. 
The judge could also grant misdemeanor probation instead of jail. If the conviction is for a felony, the penalties can include the following: 
  • up to three years in state prison,
  • a fine of up to $10,000 upon conviction, and
  • formal felony probation. 
Again, the sentencing judge can grant felony probation instead of jail or prison. 
A conviction could affect your immigration status if you are a green card holder or in the United States on a visa. In addition, crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies might result in deportation or being deemed inadmissible. If deemed inadmissible, you will be denied entry into the United States.
A PC 21810 misdemeanor conviction can be expunged. California Penal Code 1203.4 PC defines an expungement. Felony possession of brass knuckles cannot be expunged in California. 

What are the Defenses for PC 21810? 

As discussed below, a California criminal defense lawyer could use different strategies to fight a possession of brass knuckles charge.
Perhaps we can argue that the object used does not meet the statutory definition of brass knuckles or that there was no actual possession. 
Perhaps we can argue that you are free from prosecution under Penal Code 22010 PC. On the other hand, maybe we can show that the police illegally seized the brass knuckles or other evidence in the case or that there was a forced or coerced confession.
After a legal motion by defense counsel, the court might suppress illegally obtained, which could lead to a dismissal of the charges. 
Suppose enforcement used overbearing techniques in their investigation. In that case, we may be able to argue that there was police misconduct. However, the judge could dismiss the case if we show you were coerced into confessing.
Suppose you retain our law firm early in the case process.  In that case, you are increasing your chances of a favorable outcome. 
Perhaps we can negotiate with law enforcement and prosecutors to persuade them not to file formal criminal charges in the first place, called a “DA reject.” You can contact our law firm for a case review by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, CA. 
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About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...

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