Brass knuckles, also called "knuckle dusters" and "knucks", are used as offensive and defense weapons. In World War I and World War II, brass knuckles were often attached to knives to use in trench warfare. Used on one hand or on both hands, brass knuckles are dangerous weapons and are illegal in many states.
In an apparent attempt to suggest that they are pieces of art, some people sell brass knuckle jewelry to be worn as a necklace. It is possible that dangling brass knuckle jewelry from a chain around your neck could negate concealed weapons charges in a state where concealing brass knuckle weapons is illegal.
Brass knuckles frequently appear in mass media. The movie, Constantine, TV shows like The Sopranos and The Simpsons, the novel, The Kite Runner, and video games like Grand Theft Auto, have all featured brass knuckles in fight scenes or to suggest violence. As a result, many people glamorize these dangerous weapons.
Are brass knuckles legal? States in the U.S. have differing views on this question.
Some states like California, Michigan, Illinois, and Vermont prohibit the possession, sale, or use of brass knuckles, in addition to devices that look like brass knuckles (e.g., plastic knuckles). Other states, like South Carolina, make possession of brass knuckles illegal only if "they are used with the intent to commit a crime."
Some states only ban metallic knuckles, while others ban hardened knuckles of any kind. Materials used to make hardened knuckles include brass, steel, hard plastics, and acrylic.
Although the possession of a pair of brass knuckles is generally a misdemeanor crime in states where they are against the law, using brass knuckles in a violent crime can lead to felony charges.
Outside the U.S., countries like Switzerland make buying, trading, or the possession of brass knuckles against the law.
Injuries from brass knuckles can be serious, as the weapons are composed of hardened material like brass, chrome, or hard plastic. Being struck with brass knuckles can inflict broken bones, cuts, concussions, and eye and nose injuries.
Although injuries from brass knuckles are usually serious but non-fatal, there are some cases where the use of brass knuckles has resulted in death.
There are state and federal laws about brass knuckles that people are required to understand and observe.
If you are charged with possession of brass knuckles, or the victim of a brass knuckle-related crime, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Some of the legal factors that an attorney can review with you include:
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.