Monday, April 19, 2010

Arrested for Swiss Army Knife

Yep it's 'law gone mad' time for the tabloids. Here's the Daily Mail's version of the story by which a gentleman was arrested and convicted for having a Swiss Army Knife in his car.

Now as you might expect I have some problems with the details of this story I'll go through them step by step.

The driver was stopped for suspected drink-driving and breathalysed. This can occur for one of two reasons (normally). Firstly our old friend "reasonable suspicion" and secondly at a specific point that's been set up to stop vehicles. In this case it sounds like the former, but of course no details are provided.

They searched his vehicle. Again this is an interesting one; the police have to ask permission to do so unless "reasonable suspicion" is used. That is they think you have some criminal items in your vehicle; they can also do so (even if you're not present) if a criminal event has taken place nearby. Again no details as to which applied here.

Arrested for possession of an offensive weapon. No that's fine except if it's the item that's shown or described then it's no such thing "except for a folding pocket-knife which has a cutting edge to its blade not exceeding 3 inches". However that assumes what we're being shown is correct. If the blade can be fixed or is a "flick knife" other rules apply.

Now the fact that not only was this gentleman arrested and charged, but that he was convicted suggests that what is being reported isn't necessarily what happened or that he had a really lousy defence.


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