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Name: People v. Plumlee
Case #: F054363
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/10/2008

A switchblade knife defined in Penal Code section 653k can also qualify as a concealed dirk or dagger for purposes of Penal Code section 12020, even if it is in a closed position as long as it is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that could cause great bodily injury or death. An officer found a switchblade folded and closed in appellant’s front pants pocket. The knife had a three-inch blade which sprang open from the side of the handle when a button was activated with a thumb. The prosecutor filed a complaint alleging, inter alia, that appellant violated Penal Code section 12020, subdivision (a)(4), carrying a concealed dirk or dagger upon the person. But, the trial court dismissed, and later refused to reinstate, that count of the complaint finding that the knife was a “sideways knife” that did not conform to the statutory definition of a dirk or dagger. The prosecution appealed. Using rules of statutory construction, the Court of Appeal held that a closed switchblade knife could be a dirk or dagger if it can be readily used as a stabbing weapon capable of causing great bodily injury or death. The Court of Appeal directed the trial court to reinstate that count of the complaint.