New York Penal Law 265.01(1): The “Metal Knuckle” & Brass Knuckle Criminal Dilema

One of the most common weapon crimes prosecuted in New York City is the misdemeanor offense of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. This crime, New York Penal Law 265.01(1), sets forth and establishes certain objects that are automatically considered weapons regardless of whether or not you had the intent to use that object unlawfully against another person. In other words, if you possess any of these specified weapons, including the infamous “metal knuckle,” the police in New York City can arrest you or issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket for innocently possessing the object. Compounding matters, guidelines at District Attorney’s Offices may not permit an offer for even a first time offender.

In the realm of weapons set forth under NY PL 265.01(1), the most frequent weapon crime or arrest prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys in New York City is probably an offense related to a switchblade knife or gravity knife. Often times, an individual is arrested or given a Desk Appearance Ticket after an undercover police officer observes the knife clip on the outside of the pocket. Once they stop and frisk that person, police officers confirm the knife opens with the force of gravity or springs open (your New York criminal lawyer should confirm this). Having said that, other weapons are also vigorously prosecuted including the “metal knuckle.”

Unlike switchblade knives, gravity knives and even lesser known chucka sticks, the New York State legislature did not define metal knuckle in the New York Penal Law. This fact makes it more difficult for individuals to know what they are permitted and not permitted to possess. In an attempt to rectify any ambiguity, courts must define the objects that the statutes do not. Recently, a Rockland County Supreme Court Justice did just that in addressing whether or not an object constituted a “metal knuckle.”

In People v. Laurore, 10-252, NYLJ 1202483040232, at *1 (Sup Ct. Rockland Decided February 15, 2011), the defendant was charged with numerous crimes including New York Penal Law 265.01(1) for possessing an alleged “metal knuckle.” In finding that the item was a metal knuckle, the Court examined the following:

People v. Singleton, 127 Misc. 2d 735 (Crim. Ct. New York 1985.)

The New York Criminal Court found that an instrument worn on the hand that had leather straps and metal spikes was a “metal knuckle.” In determining that the leather strapped and metal spike instrument was in fact a “metal knuckle,” the court established a three prong test (the following test is directly quoted from the case).

1. Whether a blow by a fist wearing the instrument in question causes metal to come into contact with the victim’s body.

2. Whether the instrument is designed so that it readily can be used offensively against the human body and

3. Whether the design is such that it cannot reasonably be put to any use other than to enable the wearer to inflict a blow with a fist covered by metal or pieces of metal.

Applying the above test to the object recovered from the defendant, the court determined that the item was in fact a weapon and a “metal knuckle.” Here, the item had two holes that a person could slide their fingers into and two metal pointed spikes. When worn, these “metal knuckles” sit on the hand so that the metal spikes point forward from the front of the hand where they would strike another person if used by the defendant when he threw a punch. Although “metal knuckles” may come in different sizes and shapes, if their characteristics meet the requirements as set forth above, the object will likely qualify as a weapon.

For in depth information regarding New York weapon crimes including Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, please follow the associated link to Saland Law PC’s New York Weapon Information Page. At the bottom of that page are related blog entries and a link to the New York Weapon section of the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog. The New York Criminal Lawyer Blog contains additional information on criminal statutes, legal decisions and analysis of interesting cases in the news.

The New York criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC served as Manhattan prosecutors before starting the criminal defense firm. Saland Law PC represents defendants throughout the New York City region in all stages of criminal litigation.

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