People v. B
2018 NY Slip Op 04032
June 7, 2018
The defendant was charged with possession of a switchblade knife and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th. A switchblade knife is defined by Penal Law 265.00(4), which states it is a knife where it opens automatically by a button or spring mechanism on the device. The court said that the accusatory document was not deficient. The evidence presented at trial was indeed sufficient to determine that the defendant did indeed possess a switchblade.
The dissenting judge stated that the defendant was arrested for possession of an army knife that was seen in his back pocket while he was on his way to work. The defendant stated that he used the knife at his job in a mail room. He added that it was purchased on the internet, and there was no nefarious intent.
According to the dissenting judge, the narrow issue in this case was whether the knife meets the criteria of a weapon. The majority held that it met the criteria within Penal Law 265.00. This judge disagrees.
This accusatory document describes a portion of the knife that has a spring mechanism in the handle. The officer at trial testified that the spring mechanism was in the blade. Either description is not in keeping with the statutory language.
There is a disagreement whether the knife the defendant had in his possession came within the meaning of PL 265.00. The court consistently avoided the meaning of the statutory language. It is necessary to look at the plain language of the document to determine legislative intent and is the starting point in any case (Majewski v Broadalbin-Perth Cent. Sch. Dist. 91 NY 2d 577, 538 .
Even if the accusatory document survived the challenge, the trial evidence was insufficient to establish that the knife was a switchblade. The trial evidence failed to establish that the knife has a blade that opens automatically by pressure on a button or a mechanism in the handle.
The document at trial said that the knife on the defendant had a spring-loaded portion in the blade of the knife protruding from the handle. The police officer testified that the spring mechanism was in the blade. Neither of these descriptions is in keeping with Penal Law 265.00. A knife’s blade and handle are two completely different entities. The judge stated that because of this he dissents the current decision and would reverse the decision on the Penal Law count.
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