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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/19/2005 6:30:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/20/2005 1:33:16 PM EDT by jmindler]
Is it illegal for the average citizen to possess a collapsible baton for self defense purposes?

Interested in the responses, thanks!
Link Posted: 9/19/2005 7:20:03 PM EDT
No. Article 265.02 of the Penal Code bans possession of a "billy" which includes the ASP-type baton.
Link Posted: 9/19/2005 7:32:09 PM EDT

Section 265.01 Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or "Kung Fu star"; or

(2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or

(3) He knowingly has in his possession a rifle, shotgun or firearm in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college or university, except the forestry lands, wherever located, owned and maintained by the State University of New York college of environmental science and forestry, without the written authorization of such educational institution; or

(4) He possesses a rifle or shotgun and has been convicted of a felony or serious offense; or

(5) He possesses any dangerous or deadly weapon and is not a citizen of the United States; or

(6) He is a person who has been certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun, as defined in subdivision sixteen of section 265.00, and refuses to yield possession of such rifle or shotgun upon the demand of a police officer. Whenever a person is certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun, a member of the police department to which such certification is made, or of the state police, shall forthwith seize any rifle or shotgun possessed by such person. A rifle or shotgun seized as herein provided shall not be destroyed, but shall be delivered to the headquarters of such police department, or state police, and there retained until the aforesaid certificate has been rescinded by the director or physician in charge, or other disposition of such rifle or shotgun has been ordered or authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(7) He knowingly possesses a bullet containing an explosive substance designed to detonate upon impact.

(8) He possesses any armor piercing ammunition with intent to use the same unlawfully against another.

Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor.

What I don't see is the legal definition of the term "billy" or "bludgeon". By the language used in that article, it would mean any object capable of being used to cause blunt force trauma could be classified as a 'bludgeon'. Where is the defining parameters of a billy? is there a length requirement, or are all sticks, handles and pieces of hard material a billy?

article 265.00 makes no mention of these terms in the definition, so i assume there is a common legal root for defining these terms...

accorrding to that law it appears that TASERs and stun guns are a no-go as well.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 1:21:01 AM EDT
Now, I know Tasers are a no-go, but I thought stun guns were okay as long as they were kept at home. Also, "wrist slingshots?" This is bizarre. Not as bizarre as a sandbag but.....
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 4:22:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By gunner-1:
Now, I know Tasers are a no-go, but I thought stun guns were okay as long as they were kept at home. Also, "wrist slingshots?" This is bizarre. Not as bizarre as a sandbag but.....

Are you saying Sandbags are illegal? WTF? WHY?
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 6:10:21 AM EDT
Some of these items are defined in 265.01 -- others are not and have been determined through case law.

For those interested in reading some more, two good sources are the "McKinneys" black series of the NYS code, which includes a number of squib cases behind each section (a squib is a one paragraph summary of a case that gives some color on the law) and the NY Jurisprudence 2nd blue series of books, which summarizes the law and the cases.

Your local courthouse should have both available for review by the general public.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 6:21:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By maddog_enigma:
Are you saying Sandbags are illegal? WTF? WHY?

Not sandbags like you use to keep flood waters out. I think thats what you are thinking of.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 6:45:08 AM EDT
I noticed that the law specifically says "He" before it lists the items you cant have. Is this some sort of loophole that allows women to have these items, but not men?
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 8:22:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By gunner-1:
Now, I know Tasers are a no-go, but I thought stun guns were okay as long as they were kept at home. Also, "wrist slingshots?" This is bizarre. Not as bizarre as a sandbag but.....

All stun guns are illegal to possess in NYS unless you are a LEO or a manufacturer, dealer or distributor etc. Slingshots are OK as long as they don't have a wrist brace. If you fill a sock with sand that would be an illegal sand club.

New York is only one of many states to have these laws on the books. Many of them stem back to the days when unions and unions busters were beating the piss out of each other with clubs.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 8:27:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Fishpaw:
I noticed that the law specifically says "He" before it lists the items you cant have. Is this some sort of loophole that allows women to have these items, but not men?

LOL. You guys are always looking for loopholes. There is another section of the law that eliminates ones gender as a "loophole". There are some gender specific offenses though.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 10:35:59 AM EDT
I've found most of NY's weapons laws are vague as hell in their wording
probably intentional
like the knife law. it says "dangerous knife" with no definition of what a dangerous knife is
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 12:08:17 PM EDT
According to my mother your dangerous knife is next to your dangerous fork. If you're not careful with either one you could poke your sister's eye out with it.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 1:29:56 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/20/2005 1:33:00 PM EDT by jmindler]
Being the studious criminal justice college senior that i am, i hit the books with this issue to see what i could drum up in case law. The following is abridged from Lexis-Nexis, the elipses represent portions of the case that are irrelevant. I bolded the important parts for clarity:

2005 NY Slip Op 50438U; 7 Misc. 3d 1004A; 2005 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 611

[I will just include the relevant case law]

Defendant is charged with one count of third degree criminal possession of a weapon [Penal Law § 265.02(1)] and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana [Penal Law § 221.05].

In asking the court to review the grand jury minutes, defense counsel asserts (1) that there was insufficient proof of defendant's identity as the person previously convicted of another crime in Virginia; (2) that the device seized from defendant's car at the US border crossing [***2] was not a prohibited billy club; (3) that the legal instruction on the standard of proof was insufficient; and (4) that there was insufficient proof that the substance found on a seized 'grinder' in the trunk of the car was in fact marijuana.
Count one of the indictment charges defendant under Penal Law § 265.02(1) with possession of a billy club. This crime is identical to possession of a "billy" as proscribed in Penal Law § 265.01(1), with the additional element of a previous criminal conviction. The term 'billy' is [*2] not defined in the Penal Law. Although it is also possible to charge a person, under Penal Law § 265.01(2) with possession of "any deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another," that crime, distinct from strict liability for mere possession of a billy, is not charged here.

The US Customs Officer who first noted the device in defendant's car, and who testified in the grand jury proceeding, described the device as a collapsible baton. He said that it had a cylindrical handle with foam covering, and had two internal collapsible sections, each about 6 to 8 inches long, made of steel tubing which could be extended and locked into place with the flick of a wrist. He described it as a striking weapon, which he had seen demonstrated [***4] in his training as a federal law enforcement agent. Some such batons are issued to immigration officers as secondary weapons, Hyde testified. He also said that it is a non-lethal weapon intended to disable someone rather than to inflict injury, though it is capable of misuse in such a way as to be lethal in a blow to the head or neck. Collapsible batons are not included in the list of weapons whose mere possession is prohibited in Penal Law § 265.01(1).
In People v. Talbert, 107 A.D.2d 842, 484 N.Y.S.2d 680 (3 Dept 1985) the court examined the question of what qualifies as a billy club. In that case the court was considering a wooden stick or club observed on the floor of a car with four occupants. The car was stopped for speeding. The court found that the wooden stick was neither a billy, since it was not in the list of inherently [***5] dangerous items, not a dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon, since there was no allegation that defendant intended to use it against anyone else. The court further stated, "In our view, based on the manner in which the statute is set forth, the term 'billy' must be strictly interpreted to mean a heavy wooden stick with a handle grip which, from its appearance, is designed to be used to strike an individual and not for other lawful purposes. An object which can be used as a billy but which does not fit the strict definition may still be a prohibited weapon under subdivision (2) of section 265.01 of the Penal Law if there exists the requisite intent to use the object unlawfully against another." 107 A.D.2d 842, 844, 484 N.Y.S.2d 680.
In People v. Mercer, 42 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 1, 49 Cal. Rptr. 2d 728 (Appellate Department, Superior Court, Los Angeles County 1995), the [***7] court held that a collapsible baton, under the circumstances in which police found defendant holding it, was a 'billy' within the meaning of a statute prohibiting possession of a billy. The court noted that the baton was not, as such, mentioned in the list of prohibited weapons. The California statute, unlike New York's, also prohibits possession of an instrument of a kind commonly known as a billy. This language allowed the court to give an inclusive reading to the California statute, unavailable in New York under the Talbert decision.

In giving legal instruction to the grand jury, the prosecutor gave a dictionary definition of a 'billy club' as 'a short stick or club, especially a police officer's club.' This was unintentionally misleading in two respects. First, there was no testimony to show that a collapsible baton was equivalent to a police officer's club. Second, in light of the appellate decision in Talbert, it was inappropriate to give an instruction which allowed consideration of any sort of device defined differently from the language used by the Talbert court.

This court finds that the collapsible baton seized from defendant does not fall within the [***8] Talbert definition of a billy. From a policy standpoint it might make sense for there to be a prohibition against possession of such a device, though the California court in Mercer heard testimony that the device is also used by practitioners of martial arts. Any such declaration must come either from the state legislature, or from an appellate court by way of judicial interpretation of the statute. This court is bound by the appellate holding in Talbert. Since the device was not a billy, its possession was not unlawful, and the first count must be dismissed.

So according the that, the court upheld that a collapsible baton is not by strict definition of a billy or bludgeon. Other case law holds that a collapsible baton is not in and of itself a dangerous instrument unless carried with the intent of assault or malice. Anyone else care to draw conclusions?

[Edited for clarity]

Link Posted: 9/20/2005 1:41:31 PM EDT
That's a good case, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

The less legally inclined readers here are highly cautioned that this is a county slip opinion only and is not binding precedent in NYS. Meaning your trial may come out differently. Buy an ASP at your own risk.
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 2:05:06 PM EDT
agreed, this is not legal advice, only posted for general information
Link Posted: 9/20/2005 2:26:17 PM EDT
Mrs. Maloney recommends leg of lamb for offing your spouse in lieu of a baton. Sergeant Noonan had no comment but said the lamb was tasty.
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