Friday, May 21, 2010

"That's Not a Knife...This is a Knife"

Made famous by Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee.

Similarly, the 9th District Court of Appeals (Beaumont) distinguished a knife from a knife in Alvarado v. State, holding:
[A] kitchen knife will not qualify as a deadly weapon unless it is actually used or intended to be used in a manner capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
The problem, argued Appellant, is that the jury was not informed of such.  Rather, the trial court instructed the jury, under Section 1.07(a)(17)(A), that
Deadly weapon means a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury.
Appellant was convicted (obviously - he wouldn't be an Appellant if were aquitted) of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  On appeal, he challenged the faulty jury instruction, arguing that it resulted in "egregious harm."  (Becuase he failed to object to the instruction at trial, the error must have resulted in "egregrious harm" for appellant to be entitled to any relief).

Noting the error, the Court did not find egregious harm, stating:
Alvarado contends that the erroneous definition of deadly weapon permeated the entire trial. At trial, Alvarado presented a defensive theory that he did not threaten the complainant with imminent bodily injury; however, he did not suggest that the knife would not have been capable of inflicting serious bodily injury on the complainant if it had been used forcefully against her. The erroneous definition did not vitally affect his defensive theory.
In other words, had his trial defense counsel be savvy enough to spot the "kitchen-knife-is-not-a-deadly-weapon" issue at trial, Appellant may have had himself a case.

Takeaway:  Not all knives are deadly weapons!