Can I Carry a Police Baton for Self-Defense? Lawyer Says...

This week, our criminal lawyers respond to a young Marylander panicking about the impact of a pending trespassing charge on their military and academic futures -- all to shoot a music video on an empty school campus.

The Question: Can I carry a police baton for self-defense in Maryland?

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Is it legal to carry and use a police baton for self-defense as a civilian in Maryland?

I just need to know, since I can't find anything remotely helpful towards answering the question above anywhere else on the internet.

I want to have one to keep & use in my car and on my person just in case since I can't really fight without having something in my hand that's akin to a sword (I'm weird, I know).

Since I already know that it's illegal to have a handgun anywhere other than at home (with a permit, of course) unless you are law enforcement or your job requires it, this is the next best thing I can think of outside of paying for self-defense classes that I don't have time for.

(Plus, in my opinion, guns are a coward's choice of weapon.)

So can I have one or not, and what are any possible stipulations to carrying and owning one? I live in Urbana, Maryland, and work in Rockville, Maryland, if that helps get this answered more clearly.

The Answer: You probably can't randomly carry a police baton for self-defense.

Weirdly enough, we just answered a similar question about pocketknives on our blog not too long ago!

But, to reiterate:

Maryland forbids civilians from carrying "dangerous weapons." Your traditional guns and switchblades make the list, of course, but there are more exotic weapons that are also forbidden, such as:

  • Brass knuckles;
  • Star knives;
  • Nunchucks ("nunchaku"); and
  • "Sandclub."

The law doesn't actually define what it considers to be a sandclub, but casual online searches turn up a weapon similar to a blackjack or baton -- very like that police baton mentioned in the original question.

Therefore, it's probably illegal to carry a police baton under ordinary, everyday circumstances.

However, as always with the law, there are possible exceptions.

A specific exception in the weapons statute may directly address your suggested situation, though it might be risky to rely on it in court:

... an individual who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger, subject to the right of the court in an action arising under this section to judge the reasonableness of the carrying of the weapon, and the proper occasion for carrying it, under the evidence in the case.

Stripping out the legalese, what the law basically says that someone might be allowed to carry an instrument as a "reasonable precaution." However, it'd be up to a judge or jury to determine if the situation before them was ultimately "reasonable" or not.

And, per the leading case that establishes this weapon possession precedent -- Anderson v. State in 1992 -- you'd have to not have the intent to use the object as a weapon at the time of the incident.

Specifically, no one can carry around a weapon or tool and "have at least the general intent to carry the instrument for its use as a weapon, either of offense or defense."

For example, a kid walking around with a baseball bat who gets jumped in an alley might be legally clear to defend himself, since the primary use of the bat is to play a legal game.

Someone walking around with a baton, on the other hand, doesn't really have a purpose to carry it except as a weapon.

So, even in self-defense, it looks like carrying a baton is a legal no-go for most Marylanders in most situations.

(Of course, if you're not sure, ask a lawyer yourself!)

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Our automatic disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!