The case stems from a dispute over section 16470 of the California Penal Code, which defines a dirk or dagger as “a knife or other instrument…that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death.” But, for everyday pocketknives like the one at issue in Castillolopez, the definition applies only “if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.”
Castillolopez was convicted in 2012 by a San Diego County jury for illegally carrying a concealed dirk or dagger after law enforcement found a Swiss Army Knife with the blade open in his pocket following a traffic stop. The Fourth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal later overturned his conviction, holding that Castillolopez’ pocketknife didn’t meet the statutory definition of an illegally-carried ‘dirk’ or ‘dagger’ because it didn’t have a locking mechanism. California Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed that decision.
Doug Ritter, founder and Chairman of the Knife Rights Foundation, said, “Ultimately, our important brief is about protecting knife owners from prosecutorial overreach by maintaining the historical definition of a ‘dirk’ or ‘dagger’ in California. If the State wins this case with their expansive theory on how a ‘dirk’ or ‘dagger’ is defined, every Boy Scout and slipjoint folding knife owner in California might one day be guilty of a felony. With millions of Californians at risk, and a potential bad state precedent to be set, we were compelled to stand up for their rights as we have elsewhere in this country when the government attempts to overreach in cases against knife owners.”
The oral argument is open to the public. It is scheduled to be held Wednesday, April 6, 2016, at 1:30 PM at the Supreme Court’s courtroom in the Ronald Reagan State Office Building, 300 South Spring Street, Third Floor, North Tower, Los Angeles, California. If you would like to attend, leave your knives in your car or at home, all entering the building have to pass through security screening.
The Calguns Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition contributed assistance to the amicus brief’s preparation.
A copy of the filed Amicus Brief can be viewed at: http://www.kniferights.org/KRF-SAF_Amicus_Brief.pdf
The Opening Brief from California Attorney General Kamala Harris can be viewed at: http://www.kniferights.org/S218861_OBM_People.pdf
The Appellant’s Answer Brief can be viewed at: http://www.kniferights.org/S218861_ABM_Castillolopez.pdf
The State’s Reply Brief can be viewed at: http://www.kniferights.org/S218861_RBM_People.pdf