(844) 815-9632

concealed weapon

Criminal Charges Following Violence, Death in Charlottesville

Much of the country was shocked to see white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, and horrified at the images of one of those men driving a car through a crowd, killing one woman and wounding 19 others. There were clashes throughout the city between protestors (ostensibly there in defense of a statue of Robert E. Lee) and counter-protestors, and surely there will be criminal charges and repercussions as well. Here's a roundup of the criminal charges that have been filed so far in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, and a few that may yet be. James Fields, Jr. The worst of the violence was James Fields, Jr.'s attack on a group of counter-protestors, when he drove his car through a peaceful crowd. Fields injured 19 people and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The incident was caught on video and Fields was quickly arrested and initially charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop after a crash that resulted in a death. Late last week, the Charlottesville Police Department announced it would be adding five more felonies to Fields' ticket: three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, and two of malicious wounding. Thus far, Fields has not been charged with a hate crime or terrorism. Deandre Harris The other high-profile attack was the beating of 20-year-old Deandre Harris, whose assault at the hands of white supremacists was also caught on camera. "The beating happened right beside the police department," Harris said, "and no police were there to help me at all." No charges or arrest warrants have been filed in the case, despite concerted efforts -- some successful -- to identify his attackers. Other Charges Along with Fields, six other people were arrested following the violence, most charged with misdemeanors ranging from assault and battery to carrying a concealed weapon. Jacob Leigh Smith was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after allegedly hitting a reporter; Troy Dunigan was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, for throwing objects at "Nazi protesters"; James M. O'Brien was charged with misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon; David Parrot was charged with failure to disperse a riot; Steven C. Balcaitis was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and Robert K. Litzenberger was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after a Virginia State Trooper allegedly saw him spit on rally organizer Jason Kessler. Additional charges could be filed as investigations progress. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Increased Access to Hate Content Online Leads to More Crime in Real Life, Study Says (FindLaw Blotter) Top Legal Questions on Hate Crimes (FindLaw Blotter) 5 More Tips for Protesting (Legally) (FindLaw Blotter)
continue reading

Is It Legal to Carry a Sword in Public?

Not many Americans walk around carrying swords -- at least, not nearly as many who want to carry guns. But if you are fantasizing about loitering like a modern-day ronin, you'll want to consider a few legal pointers first. Are Swords Just Big Knives? Swords come in many shapes and sizes, but most are considered "bladed weapons" under the law. And like their shorter cousins -- knives -- swords typically fall under state laws prohibiting the carrying of bladed weapons over a certain length. However, the law can be different depending on whether the blade is sheathed. Here are a few state examples: In California, anything with a fixed blade (like a sword) must be worn in plain view. But sheathed knives worn openly are not considered illegal concealed weapons. However, if you're carrying a cane sword, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. In Texas, illegal knives are described as knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, along with swords. Still, swords are legal to carry if they are being used in historical demonstrations or ceremonies in which the sword is "significant to the performance of the ceremony." In New York, possession of a cane sword is a misdemeanor, but it can become a felony if it is a sword-carrier's second or third offense. Federal law has similar prohibitions about carrying bladed weapons in public, although you may be able to pack a sword in your checked luggage if you follow the rules. Potential Issues With Sword Laws There are many instances in which carrying a sword would be considered a religious/cultural practice or part of a sport or martial art. For example, for religious Sikhs, laws preventing the public wearing of a kirpan -- a small sheathed sword -- may be seen as barring a religious and cultural right. According to The Times of India, a January 2014 change in Pentagon policy should now permit Sikh soldiers to wear a kirpan and other articles of faith. Those who enjoy fencing may wish to carry an �p�e, sabre, or foil, but even if sheathed, it may be illegal to carry in public on your person. Same goes for any other martial arts weapon that resembles a sword. Depending on your state and local laws, it may be best to store these blades at the recreational location at which you practice. So while it may be legal in some specific circumstances, carrying a sword in public is typically illegal. Related Resources: Is it Legal to Carry a Knife? (FindLaw's Blotter) Cops: 'Ugly Betty' Actor Kills Mom With Sword (FindLaw's Blotter) Store Clerk's Sword Thwarts Robbery Attempt (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) Man Uses Sword, Guitar in Pulp Fiction-Like Tattoo Shop Attack (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
continue reading