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Can You Be Convicted of Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Your Own Home?

Let's put aside the practical question of whether it is safe or wise to keep a steak knife in your pocket, and move on to the legal issue presented in State v. Griffin (Del. June 18, 2012).

In the Griffin case (via The Volokh Conspiracy), William Griffin was in his basement packing and unpacking some boxes, and was using a steak knife to open the boxes. The police came to Griffin's door in response to a report of a domestic dispute and, to make a long story short, he put the steak knife in his pocket and met up with the police. 

Griffin was arrested for the domestic dispute and, while he was in custody, police discovered the steak knife in his pocket. The police stated that Griffin initially told them the knife was left in the basement, but Griffin said he told police the knife was in his pants. Griffin was charged with, among other things, the felony of carrying a concealed deadly weapon. 

The Delaware Supreme Court reviewed the question of whether a person can be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon in his own home. The court held that the Delaware Constitution provides the right to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to carry a concealed weapon in the home for a lawful purpose: 

Griffin says he told the police that the knife was in his pant leg. The police say he told them the knife was in the basement. If the jury believes Griffin, he cannot be convicted for CCDW. He was entitled to be carrying the concealed knife in his home, and he revealed the knife’s concealed location when asked by the police. Griffin was unable to remove the knife from his pant leg because he was handcuffed, and he did not voluntarily leave his home while carrying the weapon. If, instead, the jury believes the police, then Grifñn was subject to prosecution for CCDW. Although he may not have had an unlawful purpose for continuing to conceal the Weapon, he no longer had a constitutionally protected right to do so.

The court remanded the case, finding that factual findings were needed on whether Griffin was given the opportunity to disclose that he was carrying the knife, and, if so, whether he did so truthfully. 

Posted by Bruce Carton on June 21, 2012 at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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