The state’s highest court has overturned the conviction of an Auburn man who was stopped and charged with carrying a concealed weapon while crossing a street in Auburn on the night of March 25, 2011.
Later that year Kevin Jones was found guilty by Judge Rick Lawrence of the class D misdemeanor at a bench trial in Lewiston District Court and sentenced to two days in jail, with credit for time served, and fined $100.
Jones’ attorney before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland, Allan Lobozzo, argued that the evidence at that trial failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the knives were “dangerous or deadly weapons usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person.”
The high court apparently agreed and vacated the judgment.
“A plain language reading of the concealed weapons statute reveals that the Legislature intended to prohibit persons from concealing certain types of weapons and knives based upon their design or primary function,” Maine Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mead wrote last week in a unanimous decision. “The statutory scheme expressly prohibits bowie knives, dirks and stilettos from being concealed and expressly exempts knives used for hunting, fishing and trapping from the statute’s prohibition.”
Jones, now 38, had been noticed by police crossing Court Street in Auburn with another man. Auburn police officer Matthew Johnson pulled up in his cruiser next to them, got out and asked, “Hey, what’s going on, guys?”
The other man stopped, but Jones kept walking, according to court records.
Johnson ordered Jones to take his hand out of his pocket. Jones said he was on probation and was reaching for identification.
Jones was subject to searches as a condition of his probation. Johnson found two knives during a search. The knives had been clipped to the inside of Jones’ pants and covered by a shirt. Both were folding knives that had three-inch, partly serrated blades, according to court records.
Johnson testified during the trial that he had never used such a knife while hunting and fishing, but acknowledged they had utilitarian uses and could be found at sporting goods stores.
No evidence was presented that the knives were the sort usually used in fighting during attacks or for defense, court records said.
Most knives are capable of causing serious bodily injury, Mead wrote for the court. But the Legislature didn’t prohibit all knives from being carried concealed, just those usually used for attacking and defending people.
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