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Old August 4th, 2017, 10:33 AM #1
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MD Knife Law Definitions

I am looking to get a push dagger to attach to sling pack. Looking at the MD code below I had a couple of questions.
  • Does a "dagger" fall under the dirk knife restriction?
  • To be considered a "Bowie" does that title need to appear in the knife name/description or is it just the general shape?
  • Does one need to prove/disprove "intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner"?
  • Does wear or carry also apply to having a knife in your vehicle?

I apologize if these (newbie) questions have been asked before; the search function was a little frustrating. If so, I would appreciate it if you could send me the link.

Thank you for your help.


Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. § 4-101 (2012)

§ 4-101. Dangerous weapons

(a) Definitions. —

(4) “Star knife” means a device used as a throwing weapon, consisting of several sharp or pointed blades arrayed as radially disposed arms about a central disk.

(5) (i) “Weapon” includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.

(ii) “Weapon” does not include: 1. a handgun; or 2. a penknife without a switchblade.

(c) Prohibited. —

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.

(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.

(3) (i) This paragraph applies in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Cecil County, Harford County, Kent County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, Talbot County, Washington County, and Worcester County.

(ii) A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not, except while:

1. on a bona fide hunting trip; or

2. engaged in or on the way to or returning from a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity.
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Old August 4th, 2017, 11:05 AM #2
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Any fixed blade knife falls under Bowie or dagger definitions. Must be worn openly.

Can't speak exactly to the vehicle, so don't want to speculate.

IANAL
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Old August 4th, 2017, 04:34 PM #3
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Thanks for the information. I guess I should pull out the fixed blades I have in my packs.
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Cesare Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments, 1809
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Old August 7th, 2017, 06:55 AM #4
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This is one of my favorite topics. I've done a lot of research on these by reading case records in the MD court system.
Quote:
Does a "dagger" fall under the dirk knife restriction?
Short answer: Yes. Details in the next answer.
Quote:
To be considered a "Bowie" does that title need to appear in the knife name/description or is it just the general shape?
It just has to be a fixed blade knife. Interviews I conducted with police officers indicate that all concealed fixed blades, whether single or double edged, are considered CDW ("concealed dangerous weapon"). Polk v Maryland, In Re Juliana and several other cases also involve fixed blades of no special or specific description being considered dangerous weapons for purposes of this statute. The police will simply assume it violates the law and let the court handle the details. The charge has occasionally been thrown out by the court when the circumstances of the case are very innocuous. For example in one case I read the knife was voluntarily offered up during a traffic stop and was stated to be a carving tool. The defendant was still giving a citation by the cop, but the charge was dropped.
Quote:
Does one need to prove/disprove "intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner"?
The burden lies with the state to prove intent to injure unlawfully. All cases I have reviewed involved the knife-wielder openly attacking a person maliciously or menacing people. Mere open carry is not in any way enough to prove intent. I have carried numerous bladed instruments openly, including in front of cops, and not had an issue.
Quote:
Does wear or carry also apply to having a knife in your vehicle?
Yes, it does, but only if it's concealed. The aforementioned Polk v Maryland involved an arrest for fixed blade within arms reach of the driver's seat. It is notable that Polk was acquitted because his knife was plainly visible and not concealed.
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Old August 7th, 2017, 07:11 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glistam View Post
This is one of my favorite topics. I've done a lot of research on these by reading case records in the MD court system.

Short answer: Yes. Details in the next answer.

It just has to be a fixed blade knife. Interviews I conducted with police officers indicate that all concealed fixed blades, whether single or double edged, are considered CDW ("concealed dangerous weapon"). Polk v Maryland, In Re Juliana and several other cases also involve fixed blades of no special or specific description being considered dangerous weapons for purposes of this statute. The police will simply assume it violates the law and let the court handle the details. The charge has occasionally been thrown out by the court when the circumstances of the case are very innocuous. For example in one case I read the knife was voluntarily offered up during a traffic stop and was stated to be a carving tool. The defendant was still giving a citation by the cop, but the charge was dropped.

The burden lies with the state to prove intent to injure unlawfully. All cases I have reviewed involved the knife-wielder openly attacking a person maliciously or menacing people. Mere open carry is not in any way enough to prove intent. I have carried numerous bladed instruments openly, including in front of cops, and not had an issue.

Yes, it does, but only if it's concealed. The aforementioned Polk v Maryland involved an arrest for fixed blade within arms reach of the driver's seat. It is notable that Polk was acquitted because his knife was plainly visible and not concealed.


Fantastic post
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Old August 7th, 2017, 07:13 AM #6
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So I am guessing both the machete (for trail blazing in the field) and the tire iron (for changing tires) behind the seat of a vehicle are both considered CDW?
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Old August 7th, 2017, 07:36 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
So I am guessing both the machete (for trail blazing in the field) and the tire iron (for changing tires) behind the seat of a vehicle are both considered CDW?
Only if you piss off the cops enough that they find it

Seriously though, Polk effectively declared if they can see it from outside the car at a glance, it's not concealed, thus not illegal. Also tire irons aren't weapons per statute unless you actually attack someone with it. A machete, well, I do know people that have them behind the driver seat of their truck, but I wouldn't risk it. Better in the trunk.
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Old August 7th, 2017, 11:55 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glistam View Post
This is one of my favorite topics. I've done a lot of research on these by reading case records in the MD court system.

Short answer: Yes. Details in the next answer.

It just has to be a fixed blade knife. Interviews I conducted with police officers indicate that all concealed fixed blades, whether single or double edged, are considered CDW ("concealed dangerous weapon"). Polk v Maryland, In Re Juliana and several other cases also involve fixed blades of no special or specific description being considered dangerous weapons for purposes of this statute. The police will simply assume it violates the law and let the court handle the details. The charge has occasionally been thrown out by the court when the circumstances of the case are very innocuous. For example in one case I read the knife was voluntarily offered up during a traffic stop and was stated to be a carving tool. The defendant was still giving a citation by the cop, but the charge was dropped.

The burden lies with the state to prove intent to injure unlawfully. All cases I have reviewed involved the knife-wielder openly attacking a person maliciously or menacing people. Mere open carry is not in any way enough to prove intent. I have carried numerous bladed instruments openly, including in front of cops, and not had an issue.

Yes, it does, but only if it's concealed. The aforementioned Polk v Maryland involved an arrest for fixed blade within arms reach of the driver's seat. It is notable that Polk was acquitted because his knife was plainly visible and not concealed.
Thanks glistam, excellent response.
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Cesare Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments, 1809
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Old August 22nd, 2017, 10:22 AM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glistam View Post
Only if you piss off the cops enough that they find it

Seriously though, Polk effectively declared if they can see it from outside the car at a glance, it's not concealed, thus not illegal. Also tire irons aren't weapons per statute unless you actually attack someone with it. A machete, well, I do know people that have them behind the driver seat of their truck, but I wouldn't risk it. Better in the trunk.
that helps define it a bunch...thanks!
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Old August 22nd, 2017, 10:44 AM #10
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How about if you carry it in a tool box in the back of your truck?
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Old September 13th, 2017, 06:28 PM #11
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Quote:
(c) Prohibited. —

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.
That sounds conveniently vague.

Would that include a folding knife with a 6-inch blade?

One could use almost anything as a dangerous weapon. If I use a CRKT M21-04 against someone who's attacking me, it's a weapon, no? But five minutes earlier it's a tool. How does that work in Maryland?
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Old September 13th, 2017, 07:51 PM #12
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So a fixed blade Buck hunting knife in its sheath, inside my hunting backpack, in the back seat of my truck (basically from Sept to Feb) would be illegal? But an unloaded Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm in a holster inside my range bag (right next to the aforementioned hunting backpack) on a Saturday to the range & home is okay? Is that fall into "gray area" or is the knife flat out illegal inside the pack?
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Old September 13th, 2017, 08:57 PM #13
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"(c) Prohibited. —

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person. "

Shall not be infringed, MFers.
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Old September 14th, 2017, 08:41 AM #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cold Steel View Post
That sounds conveniently vague.

Would that include a folding knife with a 6-inch blade?

One could use almost anything as a dangerous weapon. If I use a CRKT M21-04 against someone who's attacking me, it's a weapon, no? But five minutes earlier it's a tool. How does that work in Maryland?
This is what happens when you read only one line of a statute and fail to take into account the rest of that law, which includes definitions and exceptions. Had you done so, you would have seen that penknives are exempt. Reading a line or statute out of context doesn't take case law into account, which ruled all non-switchblade folders are penknives regardless of size and therefore exempt.

The use of any knife in self-defense is a separate matter. Whether it is justified is based on all circumstances and evidence, not just the knife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlBeight View Post
So a fixed blade Buck hunting knife in its sheath, inside my hunting backpack, in the back seat of my truck (basically from Sept to Feb) would be illegal? But an unloaded Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm in a holster inside my range bag (right next to the aforementioned hunting backpack) on a Saturday to the range & home is okay? Is that fall into "gray area" or is the knife flat out illegal inside the pack?
The matter of an actually concealed knife in a vehicle is not explicitly spelled out, but is generally taken to mean both concealed and "readily accessible" by an occupant.

In one instance a person I know (a college kid at the time) was pulled over for a traffic stop and asked if he had weapons. He thought about it and stated there was a dive knife in the glove box. The cops sweated him a bit, mock-arguing with each other about whether or not he could reach the knife very quickly from the driver's seat. They decided to not cite him for it and let him go.

Similarly, a knife dealer I spoke with once told me the story of being pulled over in MD with several hundred knives in his back seat and trunk, new stock for his store. The cop initially proceeded to lecture him about doing this, seemingly implying it was against the law. Should mention the dealer was Indian (and spoke with a heavy accent) and the cop might have been picking on him based on how rude he was for most of the stop. The dealer however was able to articulate a very good understanding of the law, stating all the knives were packed in boxes for sale and were obviously not intended for anything nefarious. The cop dropped the issue and let him go.

Case law indirectly supports these stories. In hundreds of cases, I have yet to find an arrest for a packaged or mostly unreachable knife in a car.


Last edited by glistam; September 14th, 2017 at 10:20 AM.
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