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Are Brass Knuckles Illegal?

Brass knuckles are illegal in most states.

Brass knuckles are dangerous weapons. They are illegal, in some respects, in almost every state. Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles. These weapons are capable of causing severe injuries. Depending on where they connect with a victim, they can even lead to death.

Brass knuckles were first called "knuckle dusters" and "knucks." Soldiers used them, along with trench knives, during World War I and World War II. Today, some people carry brass knuckles for self-defense. Others have every intention of using them to hurt other people intentionally.

This article will discuss whether brass knuckles are illegal and what circumstances it may be legal to carry or use them.

Are Brass Knuckles Legal Anywhere in the United States?

The laws regarding the use and possession of brass knuckles vary from state to state. Many states consider them prohibited weapons. For example, California, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, and Vermont prohibit possessing, selling, or using brass knuckles. New York is the same. The New York Penal Code Section 265.01 explicitly prohibits possessing and using brass knuckles.

Other states, like South Carolina and Georgia, make possession of brass knuckles illegal only if someone uses them intending to commit a crime. The legislatures in Florida, Oregon, and Alabama have not banned them, but you need a permit to carry them if you wish to keep them concealed.

Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles. The primary materials used to make hardened knuckles include brass, steel, rigid plastics, and acrylic.

In other states, such as Arizona and Texas, it's not illegal to carry or use brass knuckles. However, if you use them to commit a crime, your brass knuckles will be treated as a deadly weapon.

Possessing a pair of brass knuckles is usually only penalized as a misdemeanor charge. However, in states where it's against the law to have them, using brass knuckles in a violent crime can lead to felony charges.

In either case, you will be facing potential jail time and fines.

Some People Circumvent the Law

In an apparent attempt to suggest that they are art, some people sell brass knuckle jewelry and wear them as necklaces. Brass knuckle jewelry worn on a chain could negate concealed weapons charges. This applies in states where concealing brass knuckle weapons is illegal.

Be careful in states where the penal code lists brass knuckles as illegal. If a police officer stops you and finds a set of brass knuckles, law enforcement may charge you with a misdemeanor. It won't matter whether you're wearing them as a belt buckle or jewelry. If you can access them, the police will treat them as a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Why Are Brass Knuckles Dangerous?

While brass knuckles are nowhere near as dangerous as guns or knives, injuries from brass knuckles can be severe. The weapons are composed of hardened material. Manufacturers often make them with brass, chrome, or rigid plastic.

Being struck with brass knuckles can inflict serious bodily injuries such as broken bones, cuts, concussions, and eye and nose injuries. Although injuries from brass knuckles are usually severe but nonfatal, there have been cases where the use of brass knuckles has resulted in death.

Brass Knuckles and Your Legal Rights

Some state laws and federal laws ban the use and possession of brass knuckles. You need to know the laws in your jurisdiction. Ignorance of the law will not be a valid defense.

If the police charged you with possession of brass knuckles, you should contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include:

  • What it means for the state to charge you with a violation of your state's brass knuckle law
  • Elements of the crime, potential defenses, penalties, and negotiating any possible plea deal
  • What to do if you or a loved one has been the victim of brass knuckle violence

Safety Tips for Using Brass Knuckles

If you use brass knuckles or own a pair, consider the following safety tips:

  • Follow your state's brass knuckle laws. Even if they are not illegal in your state, you must still use extreme care when handling them.
  • If you are outside your home state, check the applicable local and state regulations governing the use of brass knuckles.
  • Like any dangerous weapon, brass knuckles always have the potential to hurt others, whether purposely or accidentally.
  • If you injure a person or their property using brass knuckles, the judge could hold you liable in a civil lawsuit. The state may also charge you with a criminal offense.
  • Never let children play with brass knuckles.
  • Never use brass knuckles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Still Concerned? Contact an Attorney

It can be stressful to face criminal charges related to possessing or using brass knuckles. Consider contacting a qualified criminal defense attorney near you to discuss your legal options. An attorney can assist in resolving any legal issues you may be facing.

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