I am not a lawyer, yadda yadda yadda…

But I may be a closer facsimile than some. At least I can read.

It seems that the arresting officer in the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore is challenging the prosecutor’s assertion that Gray’s knife was legal, and was not a switchblade. He says it was a “springloaded” knife — apparently one of those assisted-opening knives — and therefore counts as an illegal switchblade.

Let’s start with Maryland law:

Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. § 4-105 (2012)
(a)(1) a knife or a penknife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife [emphasis added-cb], commonly called a switchblade knife or a switchblade penknife; or

That little spring that makes it easier to flick the blade out doesn’t make it a switchblade. It requires a hand-operated device specifically in the handle to automatically (i.e.- without further human action/intervention) open the blade.

An assisted-opening knife is not a switchblade under state law. But just in case some barely literate, cop-sucking judge decides to allow the claim that assisted-opening knives are switchblades despite the very specific law, consider that openly carrying a switchblade isn’t necessarily illegal either.

Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. § 4-101 (2012)
(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 [emphasis added-cb].

According to multiple reports, the arresting officers claimed the knife in question was visible: clipped to Gray’s left pocket. Visible. Therefore, not concealed.

So it was carried openly. Granted, lawyers and judges don’t always seem to be operating in a space contiguous with reality, but were I juror, I’d find it hard to believe that a little blade clipped in the guy’s pocket demonstrated intent to injure someone in an unlawful manner. Maybe if it had been in his hand, preferably open, and dramatically brandished.

Clipped to a pocket? Nope.

Now that’s out of the way… Gray was charged under a Baltimore city ordinance, not state law.

§ 59-22 Switch-blade knives.

(a) Possession or sale, etc., prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, carry, or possess any knife with an automatic [emphasis added-cb] spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade, commonly known as a switch-blade knife.

The keyword here is going to be “automatic.” As I explained above, to normal humans of normal intelligence, “automatic” means automatically (i.e.- without further human action/intervention) opening. One more time: An assisted-opening knife has a spring that helps the little finger muscles open the knife. The spring does not “automatically” open the knife without finger assistance in the actual moving of the blade.

Judges and lawyers are not necessarily in the class of “normal humans of normal intelligence.”


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