Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Collect a Restitution Award in California

If you've been the victim of a crime in California and the defendant has been convicted in criminal court, the judge may have ordered the defendant to pay restitution to compensate you for your economic losses arising from the crime.

The amount of restitution is determined at the time of sentencing or shortly thereafter.  A restitution award may cover your medical expenses resulting from a crime, mental health counseling, the value of stolen or damaged property and lost wages, plus interest. A restitution award may also include expenses incurred by the victim to relocate away from the defendant, to install or improve residential security and to retrofit a home or vehicle if the victim was disabled by the crime.

Restitution awards are criminal in nature, so they're treated a little differently than civil lawsuits. On one hand, they are cheaper and easier for victims to obtain because the District Attorney will handle most of the legwork in criminal court and they will not charge you any fee to do so. Unlike a civil lawsuit, however, restitution only covers economic losses, not "pain and suffering" or punitive damages. Obtaining a restitution award will not preclude the victim from additionally seeking compensation for non-economic losses in civil court.

Once you have a restitution order in hand, the hard part is often trying to collect your money. The order itself is only a piece of paper. Courts and prosecutors are not collections agents and they will not actively work to enforce an existing restitution order. To make matters worse, defendants often attempt to hide their assets to avoid paying you.

An aggressive attorney can help collect your money and put your back onto your feet.  Our firm can:

  • Order the defendant to personally appear and to answer questions about his assets under penalty of perjury. If the defendant fails to appear or lies about his assets, he can be arrested.  
  • Work with the courts and the sheriff to seize the defendant's assets and deliver them to you, or to liquidate them and to deliver the proceeds to you.  
  • Garnish a defendant's wages, intercept tax refunds and seize any cash bail that the defendant posted in his criminal case.  We can even seize money that a defendant earns while incarcerated. 
  • File a judgement lien against a defendant's assets which will give you priority over other unsecured creditors and will prevent the defendant from selling or disposing of those assets.
And here's the best part: often, our services cost you NOTHING. California law allows victims to recover compensation from defendants for the costs that they incur in trying to collect their restitution awards.  This includes reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses paid to private investigators.  

If you're having trouble collecting an existing restitution award, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.  Thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What We're Working on Now

I haven't been posting as frequently as I'd like recently because we've been busy crusading for justice.

Summer is usually a slow time of year for us. Vacation schedules mean that filing deputies at the DA's office aren't processing new cases, judges are out and prospective clients have less disposable income to invest in their own defense.  We're bucking the trend this year and keeping busy with a steady stream of great cases. Here's a summary of what we're working on now:

Restraining Orders

My year-long winning streak with restraining orders finally came to an end last month, but we're starting to string together some more "W"s.

Last week, I represented a woman in Chatsworth who had been served with a restraining order petition by her knucklehead ex-boyfriend. We beat that case and she left the courthouse with a restraining order against him.

She really did a great job of helping me prepare and making sure that I had the necessary documents to demonstrate that the petitioner was abusing the legal system. We put together a response that was clear, concise and easy for the judge to understand.  The hearing went quickly and my client emerged victorious because she followed my advice and presented herself in a very professional manner.

Yesterday, I represented a man who had been served with a restraining order by his own brother. The petitioner (the guy who was seeking the order against my client) came to court prepared with hundreds of pages of documents and photos, meticulously organized in 3-ring binders with color-coordinated tabs and everything. I was impressed with his organization. Unfortunately for him, he did not understand the rules of evidence and most of his exhibits were inadmissible at the hearing. This is why hiring a professional attorney will dramatically increase your chances of success.  We beat that case and my client avoided being slapped with an unnecessary restraining order.

Criminal Defense

This morning, we successfully petitioned the Downey Court to release my client from probation early in a DUI case.  He had been convicted before I represented him and his status on probation was having a severe financial impact for him.  He was demoted from a lucrative position at work and the demotion carried a $100K decrease is his yearly salary.  We showed the judge how my client was being disproportionately burdened by remaining on probation and why an early termination served the "interests of justice". The judge understood and agreed to release my client from probation prior to his scheduled termination date. Now he can get back to work earning good money and paying taxes to support the court system.

A client in San Bernardino had recently been falsely accused of committing serious sexual offenses against an underage girl.  I worked with police investigators and prosecutors to help them understand that the allegations were false and that the girl was merely seeking attention. The District Attorney declined to prosecute my client due to a lack of evidence.  In these types of cases, it is important to drive the investigation into a dead end before it builds momentum, snowballs out of control and destroys an innocent person's life.  I'm proud that we were able to mitigate the damage in this case.

We're still appearing regularly in the Catalina Courthouse.  More and more tourists are discovering Avalon and a few of them even get to see the inside of the Sheriff's holding cell. The most common incidents arising on Catalina include fishing violations, drunk in public and battery. We're also making special appearances on behalf of other attorneys who are unavailable to personally appear on the island. (Fun fact: Celebrity attorney Mark Geragos was arrested in Avalon and spent a night in jail during his honeymoon, nearly 30 years ago).

I'm currently working on a large-scale marijuana cultivation case, some DUIs, a handful of domestic violence matters, a few smaller-scale drug charges and a really interesting child abuse case. I can't discuss details until the cases are resolved, but check back for updates as they become available.

Medical Marijuana

We're continuing to work with medical marijuana dispensaries to form proper business entities and to ensure continued compliance with California's complicated regulatory structure. The laws are changing quickly and we're doing everything we can to help our clients operate in accordance with the rules.

I'm also contributing regular columns for thekindland.com, an online magazine devoted to marijuana culture. My pieces, entitled "Ask a Weed Lawyer", appear each Sunday. As the name suggests, I answer common questions about marijuana laws and I try to dispel some popular myths and misconceptions.  If you haven't done so already, follow the link and enter your email address to have daily issues delivered to your inbox completely free.  

That's what we've been working on, in a nutshell.  If you or a loved one has questions about criminal defense, restraining orders or medical marijuana in Southern California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

What is the Best Evidence to Present at a Restraining Order Hearing?

In the old days, restraining order hearings typically involved one person's word against another's. The petitioner would testify that her ex-boyfriend threatened her. The respondent would deny that he ever made any threats, and the judge would try to determine which party was more credible.

Today, more and more restraining orders involve electronically recorded statements. These may include text messages, emails, voice mails and messages sent over social media. The judge doesn't have to weigh a witness's credibility based on some arbitrary guess anymore; he or she can simply read the messages or listen to the voice mail recordings to determine who is lying and what was said.

A single message can make or break your case. It often does. In my experience, judges are looking for that "smoking gun" that makes their job so much easier. On any given day, the court has a lot of cases to get through. They don't have the time or the patience to conduct long, drawn-out hearings. If the petitioner comes to court prepared with a copy of a text message from the respondent that clearly conveys a threat of violence, the judge can quickly grant the restraining order and move on to the next case.

The same is true for the respondent. If you've been served with a restraining order but you have messages from the petitioner in which the petitioner admits to filing the case for an improper purpose, you should be prepared to show those messages to the judge. If the petitioner has some message from you in which you make some statement that could be construed as a threat, you should be prepared to justify, explain or deny the accusation.

If you have a very valuable message that clearly proves your case, print it out, make a couple copies, and bring it to your court hearing. The judge will not look at your phone, and your phone cannot be filed as evidence. Do not alter or edit the message in any way. Make sure that the message is legible and organized into some format so that the judge can make sense of it.

The judge is not interested in reading your entire email history since the beginning of time. He or she wants the short version of the story. If you have some valuable message, make it the centerpiece of your argument. Do not bury your best evidence in a sea of worthless nonsense. Remember, you have a very limited amount of time to present your arguments. Do not waste that time presenting useless evidence.

You should also consult with an experienced expert to determine whether or not your message is really as valuable as you believe. My regular readers are tired of hearing this, but always remember the "name of the game" in restraining order hearings: keeping it relevant and being concise. That means making sure that your arguments actually go to the issue and help prove your point. The issue at your hearing is whether or not the respondent has committed violence against the petitioner, has threatened to commit violence against the petitioner, or has engaged in a course of conduct against the petitioner that serves no lawful purpose except to annoy or harass the petitioner. The judge does not care if you're a good person, or if the opposing party is a bad person, or if you've done nice things for them in the past, or if they've done mean things to you in the past. The judge is not interested in determining who was at fault for your breakup or who drinks too much. Those arguments are a waste of your time and the judge's patience.

If you have questions about restraining orders in California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John. We have extensive experience litigating all types of restraining order cases, including cases based on domestic violence, civil harassment, workplace violence and elder abuse.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Restraining Order Lawyer

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What Counts as "Stalking" in California?

"Stalking" is one of those legal terms that seems to be misapplied more often than it's used correctly.  I see litigants throw it around loosely to describe any behavior that involves "following", "confronting" or "encountering by chance in a public place" if that behavior makes them feel uncomfortable.

The legal definition of "stalking", though, is a little more narrow.  Section 646.9 of the California Penal Code spells out the elements and the intent that must be proven before a person can be found guilty of the crime of stalking.  Here's the short version:
  • "Stalking" involves repeated following or harassing behavior. 
  • The following or harassing must be "willful" and "malicious". 
  • AND, the person doing the following must make a credible threat with the intent to place the victim in reasonable fear for his or her safety.  
The crime of "stalking", then, involves more than merely following, researching, investigating or surveilling a victim.  Those behaviors may cross the line into "stalking" if the prosecutor can prove that the defendant threatened the victim with the intent to cause fear.  

One element that is NOT included within the legal definition of "stalking" is that the crime be committed in person.  We think of "stalking" as physically following somebody or parking in front of their house, but the crime of stalking may be completed online or even through the mail.  If you send repeated, harassing messages and threats over social media with the intent to cause fear, you may be convicted of stalking in California.  You can be tried in California if the target of your harassment lives here, even if you live out of state.  

Even if your behavior does not technically rise to the level of criminal "stalking", you may still be charged and convicted for some "lesser included offense", like making criminal threats (PC 422) or annoying / harassing a minor (PC 647.6).  That behavior could also form the basis for a restraining order against you if a court finds that it constitutes a "course of conduct" that serves no legitimate purpose except to annoy or to harass the target.  

There are many possible defenses to charges of stalking, but only a qualified attorney can help you determine the best argument for your particular case.  If you or a loved one has questions about stalking in California, call our office for a free attorney consultation. (714) 505-2468. Ask for John.  

Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Some Pervasive Myths & Misconceptions Over Medical Marijuana in CA

I've written about a few of these misconceptions on this blog in the past.  These rumors are just so pervasive that I wanted to take another opportunity to set the legal record straight.

If you care enough about the law and the facts to educate yourself on this complicated subject, please read on.  If you prefer to remain willfully ignorant by disregarding information that offends your agenda, then crawl back into your hole now.  It's nice and warm in there.

Every day, I work with dispensary operators, growers, patients, investors and, unfortunately, some people who have been arrested and accused of violating California's byzantine marijuana laws. I hear the same questions constantly. A lot of my clients have gotten themselves into serious trouble by failing to adequately understand the rules, or by following terrible legal advice that they've heard through the rumor mill. Stop listening to your idiot friends. That's the first bit of free advice.

This is a collection of the most common myths and misconceptions that I hear daily regarding medical marijuana in California.

Myth #1: Marijuana is Still Illegal Federally, So Cities May Not Allow Dispensaries to Operate

The first half of that sentence is correct, but the conclusion is not.  Marijuana is illegal federally. And federal law trumps state law. If state or local laws directly conflict with federal laws in some legal dispute, the federal law will (usually) prevail. If the DEA sued the state of Colorado to block implementation of its recreational marijuana laws, for example, the DEA would (probably) win.

But that's not what anybody is talking about here. The feds have not taken any legal action to block state implementation of lenient weed laws. In fact, Obama has taken the opposite approach. He has directed the Attorney General not to aggressively pursue federal legal actions against individuals who comply with the marijuana laws of their respective states. The Justice Department has, in turn, ordered all US Attorneys to make efficient use of their limited resources and not to prioritize these types of cases.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill also prohibits the federal government from expending any resources to interfere with state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs.

While federal laws trump local ordinances, the US Constitution does not require states and municipalities to actually enforce federal laws.  If the DEA wants to shut down Santa Ana's licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, let them spend their own resources to try. The city of Santa Ana has no obligation to do so.

Myth #2: Storefront Dispensaries are Actually Illegal in CA

False. This was a gray area a few years ago, but the law is settled now. Storefront dispensaries are allowed.

The Medical Marijuana Program Act, AKA "SB 420", AKA HS 11362.7 et seq. expressly allows qualified patients to collectively cultivate marijuana and to buy / sell / trade it among patient members of a cooperative, collective, or dispensary.

Section 11362.768 of the California Health & Safety Code further dictates how and where dispensaries may operate (not within 600 feet of a school, etc.). It's clear from a plain reading of the text and from the case law that the authors intended to allow brick-and-mortar storefronts to distribute medical marijuana.

Cities may impose more restrictive zoning / land use regulations to govern locations of dispensaries and hours of operation. They may even impose blanket bans on commercial medical marijuana activity. To claim that all storefront dispensaries are illegal in California is just plain false, though.

Myth #3:  Your Doctor Has the Authority to Issue a "Cultivation Permit" That Will Legally Allow You to Grow Up to 99 Plants

Not quite. Your doctor may recommend the therapeutic use of marijuana to treat some medical condition. If you have a medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor, then you may cultivate and possess as much cannabis as your doctor says that you reasonably need to treat your condition.

That amount may not be "excessive", but there is no clearly defined criteria to calculate how many plants are excessive for a particular person. A patient who cultivates outdoors might harvest one crop per year. If that patient cooks the cannabis into edibles, he or she might consume much more than the average smoker. If the patient also has a high tolerance, then a relatively large number of plants might not be considered "excessive".

The law imposes some arbitrary limits on the numbers of plants that a patient may possess (6 mature / 12 immature), but those strictly-defined limits have been overturned by the courts.

You do not need special permission from your doctor to cultivate for your personal use if you hold a valid medical marijuana recommendation. Your recommendation is already a defense to a variety of marijuana-related crimes, including cultivation for personal use.

Your doctor may not grant you a "permit" to cultivate for sale or to distribute marijuana in any way. He or she may, however, form some professional opinion regarding how much cannabis you "need" to treat your condition. Some doctors charge an extra fee to "form the opinion" that your medical condition requires you to consume (and cultivate) a huge amount of weed. For the right price, your doctor might be "convinced" that you "need" 99 plants for your personal use. Good luck convincing a judge.

Myth #4:  Dispensaries are "Just in it for the money"

Isn't that true for any business?  Do you think your roofer loves hot tar? Or do you think "he's only in the roofing business for the money"?

If you're looking for a legal way to get rich quick, I would not recommend opening a medical marijuana dispensary. That's because dispensaries are legally prohibited from operating for profit. Operators may draw a salary and they may pay their employees, but those salaries must actually correlate to the fair market value of the labor performed.

The dispensary must be organized as a collective, a consumer cooperative, an unincorporated nonprofit association, or a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation.  However the club organizes itself, it must be operated for the benefit of its patient members. If the club has more money at the end of the day than it started with, it is doing something wrong (and illegal).

I'll save a few more of my favorite myths and misconceptions for another day.  Check back often for more valuable and up-to-date legal information about medical marijuana in California.

If you or a loved one has questions about medical marijuana in California, call our office for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.  Thanks for reading.

Orange County Marijuana Attorney

Friday, May 27, 2016

How NOT to Fight a Restraining Order in California

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about some specific strategies that I've successfully used to defend against restraining orders in California. I've previously published several posts explaining the legal procedures that are involved in restraining order hearings. If you haven't already done so, start by studying my old posts. They'll give you a good understanding of what to expect, how to prepare and what to say when you're standing in front of the judge.

Today, I want to discuss a few bad strategies -- what NOT to do at your big court date. These tips are all based on restraining order proceedings that I've personally observed in my career. You can guess how they turned out.

If you make these arguments in front of a judge, you will sabotage your own case. You'll probably get laughed at. You'll definitely lose, and then you'll wish you had taken my advice. Don't be a loser. Read this post carefully, then call my office for a free consultation.

Bad Advice #1:  Waste the Judge's Time With Irrelevant Arguments

Remember, the #1 rule at restraining order hearings is to STAY ON POINT. If you're responding to a restraining order petition (someone has filed a restraining order against you), the ONLY ISSUE that the judge cares about is whether or not you have engaged in some conduct that could form the basis for the issuance of a restraining order.  That conduct may include actual violence, threats of violence, or some course of conduct that serves no lawful purpose except to annoy or harass the petitioner. You must focus 100% of your energy and attention to proving that the alleged harassment did not occur.

The judge does not care if you're a good person, or if the petitioner is a bad person, or if you've done nice things for the petitioner, or if the petitioner has lied about something unrelated in the past, or if the petitioner is promiscuous, or if the petitioner stole money from you once or if the petitioner is an alcoholic. The judge is not interested in determining who was responsible for your breakup. All of that stuff might be important to you, but it is completely irrelevant to the one question on the judge's mind: have you harassed the petitioner?

If you're talking about anything in the world other than justifying, explaining or denying the accusations against you, you're wasting the judge's time with irrelevant arguments. Knock it off.

Bad Advice #2:  Ignore the Accusations That the Petitioner is Making Against You. Instead, Just Attack the Petitioner's Character

This goes back to my first point. If you're discussing anything other than the accusations against you, you are off topic.

When you're accused of harassing the petitioner, it is not helpful to argue that the petitioner is a terrible person. Those arguments are irrelevant because you're still not allowed to harass terrible people.

If you can prove that the petitioner is lying about something on the petition, then focus your attention on proving that the specific accusations against you are untrue. The judge will not allow you to introduce evidence that the petitioner has lied about something unrelated on another occasion, though. A 5-minute hearing would take 2 weeks if the judge allowed both sides to present evidence of every dishonest act that their opponent has ever committed since the beginning of time.

Here's an example that I see played out very often in restraining order hearings:

Petitioner:  Your honor, my ex-boyfriend was abusive toward me during our relationship. Since we broke up, he has been showing up at my house and my workplace unannounced. He has also been sending threatening messages to me and to my kids.

Respondent:  Your honor, the petitioner has 2 DUI convictions. She stole my checkbook one time and she cheated on me during the relationship. She cheated on her last boyfriend, too. I helped pay for her kid's private school and I made her car payments for 3 months. She never even said "thank you".

Judge:  I've heard testimony from the petitioner that the respondent committed acts of violence, threats, and harassment against her. Having had an opportunity to deny or explain the allegations, the respondent has declined to do so. Since the respondent has not denied the accusations, I will find that they are true by a preponderance of the evidence. The restraining order is granted and shall remain in the effect for a period of 5 years.  Next!

Bad Advice #3:  Continue Harassing the Petitioner While the Case is Pending

I understand that you're angry and frustrated about the restraining order that your ex has filed against you. Those feelings are natural. For many people, the first thought is retribution. You want to punish your lying, ungrateful ex-girlfriend for making all these ridiculous accusations.

You must resist the urge to retaliate.  Your revenge will be to beat the order and to walk out of court with a smile on your face.

Do not file frivolous legal claims against the petitioner before your court date. Do not post angry or defamatory messages online. Do not contact the petitioner's friends and family. If the petitioner is trying to provoke you, don't take the bait. Basically, don't do anything to make yourself look like the crazy one before your hearing.

If the judge finds that you made some mistakes in the past, but you've moved on and harassment is unlikely to occur in the future, then you have a good chance at beating the restraining order. If, on the other hand, you've demonstrated that you have some serious emotional issues, you have a tendency to engage in compulsive behavior and you're consumed by anger at your ex, then you will lose.

Keep it cool. Be the mature one and show the judge that this restraining order against you is unnecessary.

Bad Advice #4:  Show Up Unprepared 

If you have witnesses who will corroborate your alibi, bring them with you.  If you have documents or photos that you want the judge to consider, print them out and organize them before you come to court. All of your proposed exhibits should be in paper form so that they can be stored and cataloged in the court's files.

Study my previous posts about restraining orders. Take some quality time to understand the law, the rules of court and the issues that will be presented. Make some notes to organize your thoughts. Restraining order hearings go quickly and you will be nervous when you're on the spot. If your thoughts are scattered, the judge will have a hard time following your good arguments.

Try to predict the arguments that your opponent will present and prepare for those issues in advance. You cannot simply gloss over the bad facts; you must confront them with valid, rational, legal defenses.

Look respectable. If you have a suit, wear it. If you don't own a suit, at least put on a tie. If you don't own a tie, at least wear long pants, closed-toe shoes and a collared shirt. If you don't own those things, then you probably have bigger problems. Stop reading now and go buy some decent clothes.

Bad Advice #5:  Take Legal Tips From Your Non-Lawyer Friends and Family

It doesn't matter if your mom thinks you have a great legal argument. Your mom isn't going to be your judge, so she's not the one we need to convince.

It's your friends' job to be supportive and to tell you what you want to hear.  It's your lawyer's job to give it to you straight.  Your lawyer understands the law and the rules of evidence.  Your friends don't.

It drives me nuts when a client calls me and says, "I know you told me to stay away from my ex-girlfriend's apartment, but my mom thought it would a good idea for me to go try to talk to her one last time."  I also get a lot of this one: "I know you said that it was irrelevant, but all my friends think the judge really needs to know that my ex-girlfriend is crazy."  Stop listening to your friends. They're trying to help, but they're not helping.

Here's some good advice:  if you've been served with a restraining order in California, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 505-2468.  Ask for John.  We handle all types of restraining orders in all Southern California courts.

Thanks for reading.

California Restraining Order Lawyer

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What Kinds of Knives are Legal to Carry in California?

Everybody knows that California has some of the most complicated, restrictive gun laws in the country.  Our knife laws are slightly less complicated, but still pretty asinine.  Here's a quick overview of the rules regarding knives in California.

Folding vs. Fixed Blade

California distinguishes between fixed-blade knives and folding knives.  If the knife folds, it may generally be carried concealed, as long as the blade is not extended and locked into place while concealed.

If a blade is fixed, the knife is considered a "dirk or dagger".  In fact, any non-folding weapon that is capable of inflicting injury by stabbing is considered a "dirk or dagger", even if the object itself is not technically a "knife" (a hay hook, a sharpened toothbrush, etc.).  Dirks / daggers are legal to own, possess and carry, but they may not be concealed upon your person.  A knife is not considered "concealed" if it is worn openly in a sheath suspended from a belt.

In short: you may carry a folding knife in your pocket as long as the blade is closed.  If you want to carry a fixed-blade knife or any other stabbing weapon on your person, it must be visible and worn in a sheath attached to your belt.

Size Limits on Knives

There is no statewide size restriction on knives under California law, but some municipalities may have more restrictive local ordinances.  The City of Los Angeles, for instance, prohibits any person from carrying a knife in plain view.  The law includes any knife with a blade of three or more inches in length, any switchblade, and any other sharp stabbing tool affixed to a handle, regardless of length.  The Los Angeles law does not prohibit the concealed possession of knives in public, only their display in plain view.  The precise definition of "in plain view" is probably up for debate.

Check your local municipal code to determine whether or not your town imposes restrictions on knives that are more stringent than the statewide law.

Prohibited Knives

California prohibits the possession of any weapon that is disguised or not immediately recognizable as a weapon.  This includes knives that are hidden inside hairbrushes, lipstick tubes, writing pens, air gauges, belt buckles, canes, etc.

Californians may own switchblade knives in their homes, but they may not carry switchblades on their persons in public or in the passenger area of any car.  They also may not transfer them to any other person.  The same is true for gravity knives and butterfly knives, AKA "balisongs", AKA "batangas".

What Counts as a "Switchblade"?

Until a few years ago, there was a real debate among criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors regarding what actually constituted a "switchblade" knife.  The way the law was previously written, it seemed to prohibit public possession of common "assisted openers".  Assisted openers are pocket knives with spring-loaded blades that pop fully open once the user starts the process and overcomes some initial resistance.  There is no button or release lever, just a thumb stud on the front or on the side of the blade.  Assisted openers are a hugely popular "everyday carry" option for many people because of their ease and convenience, especially when working with one hand (on a ladder, for instance).

To clarify all the confusion regarding what did and didn't qualify as a "switchblade" in California, the legislature revamped section 17235 of the Penal Code by adding one sentence to the law.  The addition, in italics, was intended to clarify that assisted openers are legal to carry in the State of California.  Today, that code section reads as follows:

"A 'switchblade knife' means a knife having the appearance of a pocketknife and includes a
spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, gravity knife, or any other similar type knife, the blade or blades of which are two or more inches in length and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or by any type of mechanism whatsoever. 'Switchblade knife' does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position."


If you or a loved one have questions regarding knives or other weapons in California, call our office for a free attorney consultation. (714) 505-2468. Ask for John. We have extensive experience in defending against all types of criminal and weapons-related charges. 

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Weapons Lawyer