Statutory List of Prohibited Weapons
Massachusetts General Laws set out a very long list of weapons that may not be carried by anyone without a license or other right to do so. That list is long, and covers items that most people probably would not expect. I have even seen these some of these weapons for sale at stores in the Commonwealth that apparently are unaware of the law.
Police regularly charge possession of a dangerous weapon without having a chance to review the statute and confirm that the weapon in front of them actually falls within the definition. It is worth consulting an attorney to find out whether the weapon charged actually meets the statutory definition, particularly because, if it does not, it is often possible to have this charge dismissed without having to go to trial.
Defending the Charge of Carrying a Dangerous Weapon
In addition to proving that the item is a "dangerous weapon" as defined in the statute, the Commonwealth has to prove that the defendant was "carrying" it. The statutory definition of carrying goes further than you might think, and specifically includes having the item under your control in a car. This leads police to charge the offense even in cases where there might be reasonable doubt as to whether the item was actually in the control of the defendant.
The charge of carrying a dangerous weapon is a felony, and as a general rule, you should never admit to a felony charge if you have not already been convicted of a felony in the past.
Search and Seizure
In addition to the defenses described above, just like drug offenses, the charge of carrying a dangerous weapon requires that the police have cause to uncover it. That means that if the police searched you, or your car, and then uncovered the dangerous weapon, but were not constitutionally allowed to do so, then the weapon cannot come into evidence and the Commonwealth cannot prove its case.
Right to Bear Arms
Like gun charges, the charge of carrying a dangerous weapon can be challenged on second amendment grounds following the recent Supreme Court decision holding that citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. The reach of that decision has not yet been fully defined, and it makes good sense that if the Second Amendment covers guns, it ought to cover knives and other weapons at least as much, if not more.
The bottom line: this is a felony charge with a number of defenses. If you are charged with this offense, contact me to set up a free and private consultation.