People v. Sisneros, No. B107281

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtORTEGA; SPENCER, P.J., and DUNN
Citation57 Cal.App.4th 1454,67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782
Parties, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 7768, 97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 12,463 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Rickey Sam SISNEROS, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date30 September 1997
Docket NumberNo. B107281

Page 782

67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782
57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 7768,
97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 12,463
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Rickey Sam SISNEROS, Defendant and Appellant.
No. B107281.
Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1, California.
Sept. 30, 1997.
Review Denied Dec. 17, 1997.

[57 Cal.App.4th 1455] John L. Holmes, Torrance, for Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Carol Wendelin Pollack, Assistant Attorney General, Marc E. Turchin and Kent J. Bullard, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

ORTEGA, Associate Justice.

We are called upon to determine whether the instrument possessed by defendant was a dirk or dagger. The current version of the statute proscribes only instruments "capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon." (Pen.Code, § 12020, subd. (c)(24).) 1 We conclude the device, which requires some degree of assembly to be used as a knife, was not so "capable", and reverse the conviction. 2

BACKGROUND

Police stopped defendant, who was riding his bicycle after dark. The officers meant to write him a ticket for inadequate lighting on the bicycle. One of the officers noticed a knife in a sheath hanging from defendant's belt. This knife is not the subject of this appeal. An ensuing pat down search revealed a cylindrical device approximately 4-1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Unscrewing the end of the device exposes a blade, which can then be turned around and screwed onto the cylinder resulting in a knife approximately 6-3/4 inches long, including a blade slightly over 2-1/2 inches long. The jury found defendant guilty of violating section

Page 783

12020, subdivision (a), which makes it a crime to carry a dirk or dagger concealed on the person.
57 Cal.App.4th 1456

DISCUSSION

The question of what constitutes a dirk or dagger has bedeviled courts for decades. Various objects ranging from ice picks (In re Robert L. (1980) 112 Cal.App.3d 401, 404-405, 169 Cal.Rptr. 354) to steak knives (In re Quintus W. (1981) 120 Cal.App.3d 640, 643-645, 175 Cal.Rptr. 30) to a metal wire wrapped in a shoe lace (People v. Cabral (1975) 51 Cal.App.3d 707, 711-712, 124 Cal.Rptr. 418), have been found to be dirks or daggers. Various other objects such as barber scissors (Bills v. Superior Court (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 855, 859-862, 150 Cal.Rptr. 582) and awls (People v. La-Grande (1979) 98 Cal.App.3d 871, 872-873, 159 Cal.Rptr. 709), have been found not to constitute such a weapon.

We need not burden this opinion with the reasoning behind dissimilar points of view on the topic. There exists a plethora of cases on the subject. (See, for example, People v. Mowatt (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 713, 65 Cal.Rptr.2d 722.) We shall set forth only a brief history of the statute and delve only into the question of whether the statute, as it now exists following a 1995 amendment, proscribes possession of the unique object involved here. We have examined the device in detail, assembling and disassembling it numerous times.

Before a 1993 amendment which first gave a statutory definition of the instrument, the following case-law definition was generally accepted: " 'A dagger has been defined as any straight knife to be worn on the person which is capable of inflicting death except what is commonly known as a "pocket knife." Dirk and dagger are used synonymously and consist of any straight stabbing weapon, as a dirk, stiletto,...

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10 practice notes
  • People v. Aubrey, No. A081058
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 1999
    ...under this latest version. Only a few cases have interpreted the 1995 version of section 12020(c)(24). People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782, held that a device which requires some degree of assembly does not meet the 1995 statutory definition of "dirk or dagger"......
  • People v. Oskins, No. B117298
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 12, 1999
    ...Stats.1995, ch. 128, p. 9, emphasis added; we refer to this change as the 1995 version of the statute.) In People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782, the court construed the 1995 version of subdivision (c)(24) as narrowing the category of instruments which may be "di......
  • U.S. v. Medina-Anicacio, No. 01-41171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 24, 2003
    ...instrument ... that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death." People v. Sisneros, 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal. Rptr.2d 782, 783 (1997) (citing CAL. PENAL CODE § 12020(c)(24)) (emphasis in Page 645 In United States v. Chapa-Garza, 243 F.3d 9......
  • People v. Munster, D068629
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 29, 2016
    ...SCHEME "The question of what constitutes a dirk or dagger has bedeviled courts for decades." (People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 1456 (Sisneros).) Section 21310 and its predecessor statutes make it a crime to carry on the person a concealed dirk or dagger. Section 16470 now prov......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • People v. Aubrey, No. A081058
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 1999
    ...under this latest version. Only a few cases have interpreted the 1995 version of section 12020(c)(24). People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782, held that a device which requires some degree of assembly does not meet the 1995 statutory definition of "dirk or dagger"......
  • People v. Oskins, No. B117298
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 12, 1999
    ...Stats.1995, ch. 128, p. 9, emphasis added; we refer to this change as the 1995 version of the statute.) In People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal.Rptr.2d 782, the court construed the 1995 version of subdivision (c)(24) as narrowing the category of instruments which may be "di......
  • U.S. v. Medina-Anicacio, No. 01-41171.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • March 24, 2003
    ...instrument ... that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death." People v. Sisneros, 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 67 Cal. Rptr.2d 782, 783 (1997) (citing CAL. PENAL CODE § 12020(c)(24)) (emphasis in Page 645 In United States v. Chapa-Garza, 243 F.3d 9......
  • People v. Munster, D068629
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 29, 2016
    ...SCHEME "The question of what constitutes a dirk or dagger has bedeviled courts for decades." (People v. Sisneros (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1454, 1456 (Sisneros).) Section 21310 and its predecessor statutes make it a crime to carry on the person a concealed dirk or dagger. Section 16470 now prov......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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