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Knuckle knife was concealed weapon

The trial court correctly determined that appellant’s “knuckle knife” was a weapon within the meaning of  Code § 18.2-308(A) and thus could not be concealed on his person. Appellant’s conviction for carrying a concealed weapon is affirmed.

J.B., a 10-year-old child, and his adult neighbor, Jamal, were playing with a football. Jamal threw the football over J.B.’s head, almost hitting appellant’s car. Appellant was outside. He “warned, ‘hit my car and see what happens.’”

He went inside his house and came back out with a knuckle knife and walked toward Jamal. “J.B. saw the knuckle knife in appellant’s hand once appellant got near the sidewalk, and appellant began swinging the knife at a tree. Appellant then put the knuckle knife in his pocket.”

J.B. testified that appellant came toward him and “ mentioned how quickly he could stab someone.” Appellant then lifted J.B., made stabbing motions and sounds and then “dumped” him on the ground. J.B. told his mother what happened. She called the police.

“Stafford County Sheriff’s Sergeant J.P. Aubry responded to the incident and spoke with appellant. Aubry asked appellant if he owned brass knuckles. When appellant confirmed that he did, Aubry asked where they were located; appellant removed them from his pants pocket.

“The blade of the knife was closed, so it looked more like knuckles. Based on his view of the knife, Aubry did not think that it was spring operated. Aubry also testified that the weapon appeared to have the same operation as brass knuckles; in Aubry’s definition, a blunt object that you hold in your hand to inflict pain on someone.”

Appellant was charged under the concealed weapon statute. He moved to strike but the trial court concluded the knuckle knife was covered by the statute and denied the motion. Appellant renewed his motion in closing argument. The court denied the motion and convicted appellant. He appealed.

Weapon of ‘like kind’

“Appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding that the knuckle knife he possessed fit one of the enumerated definitions of weapons prohibited from concealment by Code § 18.2-308(A).

“Code § 18.2-308(A) provides in pertinent part: ‘[i]f any person carries about his person, hidden from common observation, … (ii) any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, sling bow, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack; … or (v) any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor[.]’ …

“‘If the bladed item in question meets the definition of an enumerated item within Code § 18.2-308(A), the evidence is clearly sufficient for a conviction under the statute.’ … But where, as here, the item is not one of those expressly enumerated in the statute, we must determine if it is a ‘weapon of like kind.’ …

“In making that determination, we note first that the item must be a weapon. … ‘[T]o be a weapon,’ under the statute, ‘the item must be designed for fighting purposes or commonly understood to be a ‘weapon.’ … The statute does not define ‘metal knucks,’ but this Court has previously equated brass knuckles with metal knucks. …

“By definition, brass knuckles are a weapon because they are designed for fist-fighting purposes. Sergeant Aubry testified that in his experience, brass knuckles are used to inflict pain upon another. Appellant testified that his knife is used in the same manner as brass knuckles. Therefore, we hold that there is sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that appellant’s knuckle knife is a weapon.

“Finally, if the item is a weapon, ‘it must then be determined if the item possesses similar characteristics to the enumerated items in Code § 18.2-308(A), thus, making its concealment prohibited.’ … That is, the evidence must prove that appellant’s weapon was ‘substantially similar’ to one of the weapons enumerated in Code § 18.2-308(A). … We hold that it does.

“The knuckle knife has similar characteristics of metal knucks. As seen in the photos of the weapon, there is a grip for the hand to fit in, with a large block of metal or other material that extends well above the holder’s hand. This weapon also has a knife blade that appears to fold in.

“While the addition of the blade is not included in the definition of metal knucks, this differing characteristic does not disqualify the weapon as a ‘weapon of like kind.’”


Williams v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0224-20-4, Dec. 22, 2020. CAV (Clements) from Stafford County Cir. Ct. (Levy). Jason M. Pelt for appellant, Mason D. Williams for appellee. VLW 020-7-245, 5 pp. Unpublished.

VLW 020-7-245

Virginia Lawyers Weekly