California Penal Code § 626.10 PC makes it a crime to bring dangerous weapons onto school grounds, including K-12 schools and any private or public university or college. The offense is a wobbler that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Some prohibited weapons under the statute include:
- dirks or daggers,
- ice picks,
- stun guns, and
- BB guns.
The language of the statute reads:
626.10. (a) (1) Any person, except a duly appointed peace officer as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, a full-time paid peace officer of another state or the federal government who is carrying out official duties while in this state, a person summoned by any officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while the person is actually engaged in assisting any officer, or a member of the military forces of this state or the United States who is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, who brings or possesses any dirk, dagger, ice pick, knife having a blade longer than 21/2 inches, folding knife with a blade that locks into place, razor with an unguarded blade, taser, or stun gun, as defined in subdivision (a) of [Penal Code] 244.5, any instrument that expels a metallic projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, through the force of air pressure, CO2 pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun, upon the grounds of, or within, any public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, is guilty of a public offense, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
- Abdul hides a dagger in his pocket and walks on the playground of a public school during recess.
- Kim is a freshman at the University of California and takes a stun gun into one of her classes.
- Paco walks into his son’s grade school with a hunting knife in his briefcase.
Luckily, there are several legal defenses you can raise if accused of a crime under Penal Code 626.10. These include showing that you:
- did not have a prohibited weapon;
- are free from prosecution; and/or,
- were arrested without probable cause.
A violation of PC 626.10 is a wobbler offense under California law. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.
If charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the California state prison for up to three years.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is prohibited under Penal Code 626.10 PC?
- 2. Are there legal defenses to PC 626.10 violations?
- 3. What are the penalties, punishment, and sentencing?
- 4. What are the related offenses?
1. What is prohibited under Penal Code 626.10 PC?
Penal Code 626.10 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to bring some weapons onto, or within, certain school grounds. This includes:
- K-12 schools, and
- any private or public university or college.1
Weapons banned from schools under PC 626.10 include:
- ice picks,
- folding knives with a locking blade,
- stun guns, and
- BB guns or pellet guns.2
2. Are there legal defenses to PC 626.10 accusations?
If you are accused under Penal Code 626.10, you can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.
Three common defenses to PC 626.10 accusations are:
- no prohibited weapon
- free from prosecution; and/or,
- no probable cause.
2.1. No prohibited weapon
Penal Code 626.10 only bans certain weapons from California schools. These objects are all listed within the statute.
This means it is always a legal defense for you to show that while you brought an item onto school grounds, it was not a prohibited weapon as listed within PC 626.10. For example, perhaps you carried a knife into a school, but its blade was less than 2 ½ inches.
2.2. Free from prosecution
Certain people are free from prosecution under Penal Code 626.10. These classes of people are listed within the statute. Some people exempted from prosecution include:
- police officers,
- a person assisting a police officer, and
- a member of the military carrying out an official duty.
2.3. No probable cause
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest you for a crime.
If you were stopped or arrested for violating PC 626.10, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.
3. What are the penalties, punishment, and sentencing?
A violation of Penal Code 626.10 is a wobbler offense under California law. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on:
- the facts of a case, and
- your criminal history.
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.3
Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order you to misdemeanor probation. This is also called “summary” or “informal” probation.
If a PC 626.10 violation is charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to three years.4
Note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order you to felony probation.
4. What are the related offenses?
There are three crimes related to bringing a prohibited weapon into a California school. These are:
- alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608,
- carrying a concealed dirk or dagger – PC 21310, and
- possession of a switchblade – PC 21510
4.1. Alcohol at a public educational facility – BPC 25608
Business and Professions Code 25608 is the California statute that makes it a crime to bring alcohol into a public schoolhouse, or on the grounds of the same.
A violation of Business and Professions Code 25608 is charged as a misdemeanor.5 The crime is punishable by:
- imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months; and/or,
- a maximum fine of $1,000.
4.2. Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger – PC 21310
Penal Code 21310 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to carry a concealed dirk or dagger.
PC 21310 defines a “dirk or dagger” as:
- a knife or other instrument,
- with or without a handguard,
- that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon, and
- that may inflict a significant or substantial physical injury or death.6
A violation of this statute is a wobbler, meaning it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it carries:
- up to 1 year in county jail, and/or
- up to a $1,000 fine.
As a felony, it carries:
- 16 months, or two or three years in county jail, and/or
- up to a $10,000 fine.7
4.3. Possession of a switchblade – PC 21510
Penal Code 21510 is the California statute governing switchblades. The statute makes it illegal to do any of the following:
- possesses a switchblade in the passenger’s or driver’s area of a motor vehicle in a public place, or any place open to the public,
- carry a switchblade on your person,
- sell, offer for sale, or expose a switchblade for sale, or
- loan, transfer, or give a switchblade to any other person.8
Violation of Penal Code 21510 PC is a misdemeanor under California law, that can be punished by as much as:
- up to six months in county jail, and/or
- a fine of up to $1,000.
For further assistance…
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 626.10 PC, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.
For a similar law in Colorado, please see our article on Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds (Colorado 18-12-105.5 C.R.S.). And, for a similar law in Nevada, please see our article on Nevada Laws for “Possessing Weapons on School Property” (NRS 202.265).
- Penal Code 626.10 PC. See, for example In re Z.R. (Cal. App. 5th Dist., 2008), 168 Cal. App. 4th 1510; In re Cody S. (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 2004), 121 Cal. App. 4th 86.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 19.
- California Penal Code 1170h.
- California Business and Professions Code 25608 BPC.
- California Penal Code 21310 PC.
- California Penal Code 270.1a PC.
- See same.