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Name: People v. Castillolopez
Case #: D063394
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/15/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/30/2014: S218861

Concealed, opened Swiss Army knife is not a dirk or dagger because its blade cannot be locked into position. Police officers conducted a pat-search during a traffic stop and found appellant carrying a concealed Swiss Army knife with the blade in the open position. He was convicted of carrying a dirk or dagger (Pen. Code, § 21310) and appealed. Held: Reversed. There was no substantial evidence from which a trier of fact could conclude the knife was prohibited by the statute. Although the prosecution expert testified the knife was open and locked into place, he did not testify the blade was fixed in place so as to be immovable. The expert said the knife was more of a tool and had limited effectiveness as a stabbing instrument because if the knife hit something hard, like bone, it would collapse on the user. There is insufficient evidence the open blade of the collapsible knife is capable of being “locked into position” as required by Penal Code section 16470, which defines dirk or dagger.

The definition of dirk or dagger in section 16470 is not void for vagueness. The due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and California Constitution article I, section 7, requires a “reasonable degree of certainty in legislation,” both to apprise people of what is required under the law and to avoid arbitrary enforcement of the law. So long as a statute does not infringe upon First Amendment or other constitutional rights, a party challenging a statute as vague must demonstrate it is vague in all its applications. Section 16470 prohibits possession of a concealed, opened “nonlocking” knife when it is “locked into position.” Appellant claimed the statute is vague because it fails to define “nonlocking” or “locked into position,” and is ambiguous in prohibiting a “nonlocking knife” when “locked.” Based on the plain language of the statute, it provides that “nonlocking folding knives” are not dirks or daggers unless “the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.” “Locked into position” means “firmly fixed in place or securely attached so as to be immovable,” which is sufficiently definite to provide fair notice regarding what is prohibited. A “nonlocking” folding knife could be altered to firmly fix the blade.