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Possession of Metal Knuckles

PC 21810 Law & Defense

Information on the crime of possession, manufacture, sale, or gifting, of metal knuckles is found at California penal code section 21810.


Basically, it is illegal to possess, make, or sell, metal knuckles (commonly called brass knuckles). Metal knuckles are metal objects shaped to fit around knuckles or fingers and sometimes attached to a knife. Metal knuckles are used for fighting.

Possession Defined: Possession of metal knuckles means that the defendant either had the metal knuckles on his or her person or within his or her immediate physical reach (Actual Possession), or that the defendant had the ability and access to control the metal knuckles (Constructive possession).

For example, if the defendant has metal knuckles in his pocket, he has actual possession of the metal knuckles. On the other hand, if the defendant has metal knuckles in his office, but he or she in not presently in his or her office, then the defendant has constructive possession of the metal knuckles. Either type of possession qualifies as possession for purposes of PC 21810.


Possession of metal knuckles is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony (wobbler). When PC 21810 is charged as a felony, the accused could face up to 16 months, 2, or 3 years in jail, depending on the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors found in the facts of the case. When PC 21810 is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 21810 cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant will be granted a probation sentence after a conviction for possessing of metal knuckles depends on many factors, including the defendant's criminal history.

Probation sentences can include a condition that the defendant serve some time on work release (manual labor), or house arrest (electronic monitoring). Other conditions of probation would certainly apply. 

Note: A probation sentence for a felony conviction of PC 21810 is called formal probation, which is monitored by a probation officer. Probation for misdemeanor convictions of PC 21810 is called informal, summary, court, or misdemeanor probation, which is monitored by the court.

PC 1170(h) Sentencing: If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for possession of metal knuckles he or she will serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail (as opposed to a state prison). In addition, that incarceration may be split (served partially in custody and partially out of custody on work release or house arrest), or suspended (not served at all unless the defendant violates a condition of his or her out of custody sentence.

Strike Crimes: Possession of metal knuckles (aka brass knuckles) is not a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law.

CIMT: PC 21810 is not a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT); however, this does not mean that any conviction will not have a negative affect on the defendant's immigration status or professional licensing status, if any. The fact that PC 21810 is not a CIMT means that the possession of metal knuckles is not a crime involving deceit or is otherwise considered inherently immoral, which means the impact on immigration or professionally licensing is generally less severe than it would be if the crime was classified as a CIMT.

Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) [San Bernardino County 2020]

Note: Bail is an amount of money or property staked with the court, usually through a bail bondsman, that is intended to ensure that the defendant appears as ordered for court process (criminal prosecution). If the defendant does not appear as ordered after paying bail the defendant could forfeit the money or property staked with the court. In some cases, the defendant may be release from custody without the need for bail (Own Recognizance Release [OR]); in other cases, bail may be increased or decreased depending on the defendant's perceived danger to the community and his or her risk that he or she will not show up for court if release from jail pending the criminal process.

In addition the penalties listed above, if found guilty of possessing of metal knuckles , the defendant could face the following punishments: fines and fees, denial of entry into the armed services (Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, Space Force, etc.), criminal protective orders, and more.


Common defenses to PC 21810 charges include: Insufficient evidence , mistake of fact, feeling possession (only momentary possession to protect self or others), duress, insanity, entrapment, illegal search and seizure, and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with possession, manufacturing, or selling metal knuckles (brass knuckles), or PC 21810, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free and discreet consultation. Call today!



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