Are nunchakus ("nunchuks") legal in California? (Penal Code 22010)

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jul 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

Penal Code 22010 makes it generally illegal to own or possess nunchakus (commonly referred to as "nunchucks") in California. A "nunchaku" is a traditional martial arts weapon consisting of two rods or sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope.

Exceptions to Penal Code 22010 are:

  • Possession of nunchucks by schools holding a regulatory or business license if:
    • The school teaches the art of self-defense, and
    • The nunchucks are kept on the school's premises;
  • Taking someone else's illegal nunchucks to the police;
  • Possession of antique or “curio” nunchakus by someone authorized to own them;
  • Ownership by an authorized historical society, library, or museum; or
  • Possession of nunchucks for use in movie, television, or video productions.

The penalty for unlawful possession of nunchucks in California

Unlawful possession of nunchakus is a California “wobbler” offense. A “wobbler” is a crime that can be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony, in the prosecutor's discretion.

As a misdemeanor, illegal possession of nunchakus in California can be punished by:

  • Up to one year in county jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

Penalties for felony possession of nunchakus can include:

  • 16 months or two years or three years in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


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