Is A Butter Knife An Inherently Deadly Weapon?
September 17th, 2019

In re B.M. (2018) 6 Cal.5th 528, 531-39 the CSC held that there was no substantial evidence that B.M. use of a butter knife was likely to cause great bodily injury within the meaning of PC 245(a). The Court reaffirmed its rule that an object alleged to be a deadly weapon must be used in a manner that is not only “capable of producing” but also “likely to produce death or great bodily injury.” (Id. at 531-35.) Although some objects are dangerous weapons as a matter of law, a knife is not. The court analyzed People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1023 and explained that the trier of fact may consider the following when determining whether an object is a deadly weapon based on how it is used: (1) the nature of the object and any damage done to the object; (2) the manner in which it is used; (3) what harm could have resulted based on how the object was actually used; (4) actual injury, or lack thereof, caused by the object; (5) the facts known to the aggressor before the assault, including defensive measures taken by the victim; and (6) all other relevant facts. A finding that a knife is likely to produce GBI requires more than a mere possibility that serious injury could have resulted from the way the object was used. Conjecture as to how the object could have been used is inappropriate. Here, even if B.M.’s use of the butter knife against her sister were capable of causing great bodily injury, the evidence was insufficient to show that it was likely to produce GBI or death.

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