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Are Brass Knuckles Illegal?

Brass knuckles are illegal in most states.

Illegal in many states, brass knuckles are dangerous weapons. Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles of any kind. Also called "knuckle dusters" and "knucks," brass knuckles were often attached to knives used in trench warfare in World War I and World War II. Used on one or both hands, brass knuckles are illegal in most states.

Brass Knuckles and the Law

Views on this weapon differ from one state to the next. For example, states such as California, Michigan, Illinois, and Vermont prohibit the possession, sale, or use of brass knuckles. Other states, like South Carolina, make possession of brass knuckles illegal only if someone uses them with an intention to commit a crime.

Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles of any kind. Materials that are used to make hardened knuckles include brass, steel, hard plastics, and acrylic. Although the possession of a pair of brass knuckles is usually only penalized as a misdemeanor crime in states where they are against the law, using brass knuckles in a violent crime can often lead to felony charges.

Outside the U.S., countries like Switzerland make buying, trading, or the possession of brass knuckles against the law. In an apparent attempt to suggest that they are pieces of art, some people sell brass knuckle jewelry to be worn as a necklace. Brass knuckle jewelry worn on a chain around your neck could negate concealed weapons charges. This applies in states where concealing brass knuckle weapons is illegal. Brass knuckles frequently appear in mass media. As a result, many people glamorize these dangerous weapons.

Brass Knuckles Dangers

Injuries from brass knuckles can be severe, as the weapons are composed of hardened material. Often, they are made of brass, chrome, or hard plastic. Being struck with brass knuckles can inflict broken bones, cuts, concussions, and injuries to the eyes and nose.

Although injuries from brass knuckles are usually serious but non-fatal, there are some cases where the use of brass knuckles has resulted in death.

Brass Knuckles and Your Legal Rights

There are state and federal laws about brass knuckles that people are required to understand and observe. If you are charged with possession of brass knuckles or are the victim of a brass knuckle-related crime, you should contact an attorney 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 to be charged with violating your state's brass knuckle law, including elements of the crime, potential defenses, and negotiating any possible plea deal
  • If you or a loved one has been the victim of brass knuckle violence, whether you can recover damages from the assailants, their employers, or a third party that may have had a duty to prevent brass weapons from being used

Brass Knuckles Safety Tips

If you use brass knuckles or own a pair or pairs, 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, be sure to 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 someone is injured or property is damaged while you are using brass knuckles, you could be held liable in a civil lawsuit and/or face charges in a criminal court.
  • Never let children play with brass knuckles.
  • Never use brass knuckles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Still Concerned? Contact an Attorney!

If you've been charged with a crime related to possession or use of brass knuckles, it can be stressful to handle facing criminal charges. In the event you are in such a situation, consider contacting a qualified criminal defense attorney near you. An attorney can assist in resolving any legal issues you may be facing.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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