Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Weapon----Law Dopers HELP!!!

It started out as a lovely evening, I picked up one of my friends at his home to go out with another few friends that we were picking up at work. We work at a retail store in a suburb in Wisconsin. We were chatting with each other about where we were going to go while sitting on a bench near the front exit of the store. In front of the bench is a police substation that had one officer in it. While we were chatting I needed a package opened and my friend proceeded to open it for me with one of his pocketknives. Him, being a Boy Scout, always has a knife on him. I usually have one on me too, but that is beside the point.
The knife that my friend used was on the large side. The blade was three inches long, but that is legal if you are not carrying it concealed. He was carrying it on his belt loop on the outside of his pants. I noticed the officer was looking a us odd so I suggested we leave, we proceeded to exit the store and walk out to our cars, before we got halfway there the officer came out of the building and asked to speak with my friend. He asked to see his knife and started to question him about it, asking why he had such a big knife and what he needed it for. My friend told the officer that he was a scout and was just coming back from a camping trip and he used it camping. The officer got upset with him and started badgering him about the knife. He asked if my friend had anything else on him and my friend told him the truth that yes he was, he had another knife in a pouch on his belt, and one small one in his pocket. He turned around to show the officer the pouch over his right hip, where he had his jacket kilted up to show the knife sheath, it had been that way as we were waling also. At this point the officer again asked why he had these knives and my friend told him they all had different uses when he was camping. The officer then at this point yelled at him “Well YOUR stupid!” And then asked if he could pat him down. My friend told him sure and reminded him of the small knife is his pocket. The officer half asset patted him down, missing the front of his body and the inside of his legs. When he patted him down he took the knife from the pouch and from his pocket and pulled his jacket down over the pouch and my friends hips.
Then he cuffed him and started to walk him back in the building. When we became alarmed and asked what was going on he THEN said to my friend, and us that he was being arrested for “CCW”. He said to my friend “Your under arrest” and walked him in the building into the sub station with us following behind like little ducklings.

While inside the station my friend was questioned, repeatedly told he didn’t need to carry knives, and told that one of the main reasons why he was stopped was because he was wearing “all black”. And had a “funny necklace” on.
The officer also said my friend was giving him attitude outside. He was booked, printed, and mugshotted and released with a $410 fine.
When he came out he was distraught. He was arrested for a concealed weapon, which he had all the knives too big to be concealed legally on his belt. Had his knives taken away, and charged and fined.
This poor kid is only 18; he is terrified his parents will find out, his record is so clean it squeaks. He is even an Eagle Scout! He has never EVER been in trouble before; he didn’t even get a detention in high school! The charges seemed to be trumped up, and the cop was out of control. He had cuts on his wrists from the cuffs, and while other officers tried to convince the arresting officer to let him go he brushed them off saying he had already wrote in CCW so that’s what it was going to be. Three different officers questioned him after he was arrested and he was never read his rights.

His court date is in a month if he wants to appeal it. Something seems fishy, but I don’t really know the law, what, if anything, can be done?

Additional info:
His shirt was blue, not black like the officer said.
His funny necklace was a pentacle, my friend is a practicing witch.
He couldn’t get the arresting offcer to tell him what CCW meant until the other officers arrived. Even after that he didn’t give my friend many answers about what the charge meant. He was continually beligerant and ignored him.
My friend is a short unassuming guy five feet tall and very skinny.
He speaks very softly and was very very scared I’m not sure if he could have mustered up additude if he tried.

Anything else you need? Any ideas? What can be done?
I appeal to the knowledge of the dopers across the planet…

Thank you,


Well, IANAL, but in my opinion, the first thing he needs to do is tell his parents. The second thing he needs to do, if he intends to contest the charge, is get a lawyer. At the risk of offending some people, I will say that some officers do overstep the bounds of common sense.

WI statutes

The first thing he needs to do is get a lawyer. And then follow the instructions of the lawyer.

Things you might want to testify to as a witness: friend mentioned that he was an eagle scount and needed the knives for camping. Eagle scouts impress judges. You might want to mention that your pal was respectful to the officer by describing the details. You might want to mention that the officer kept badgering you, and talk about the details.

In any legal question, the first thing you need to do is say what state you’re in, as laws will vary. I think it’s pretty safe to say, though, that your friend has a very strong case. You say that he was arrested and questioned without being read his rights, on a trumped-up charge, and told that the justification was a couple of even more trumped-up charges (wearing black and a pentagram)? And that there were (at least) two other officers who witnessed this?

I presume that you got this officer’s badge number. That failing, do you know the time when this happened? The police department can probably find out who was on duty there and then from their records.


Mirandaizing is not always necessary to arrest someone. If he said anything incriminating then it could potentially be excluded if he was not read the Miranda warning but it does not necessarily invalidate the arrest in any way.

link that works

I know it was said by another poster, but let me echo and amplify that advice:

Your friend should get a lawyer, pronto.

Try to find one who has a good relationship with the local authorities.

The lawyer will probably tell your friend not to worry so much. I can’t see a Wisconsin DA coming down too hard on an Eagle Scout coming back from a camping trip with a few knives. I imagine the lawyer will be able to convince the DA to drop the charges or reduce them down to a disorderly person’s offense.

Did I mention that your friend should get a lawyer?

(standard disclaimer about legal advice)

Everything you’ve said makes a court case for your friend very solid - one thing sticks out, however…make sure your friend’s lawyer knows about the pentacle and why he was wearing it, and make sure your friend understands that the general public (especially folks like judges and cops) have NO IDEA that there are actually witches in the world we live in. The “w” word could do severe damage to his image as an eagle scout who never gets into trouble just due to the ignorance of the people he’ll be dealing with. Please tell me he didn’t try to explain the necklace to Barney Fife…otherwise he’ll try to paint the Eagle Scout as some goth punk who claimed to be casting spells while waving weapons around on a public street or somesuch BS…

Also, if your friend didn’t do anything wrong (as it sounds), his parents could be his best ally in this situation. Even though your friend is an adult, his parents are older and have more experience in dealing with people, and people like judges and lawyers are more likely to respect his parents’ thoughts and ideas (sorry, but it’s a fact of life.)

I have to wonder why someone needs so many knives. When you have that many knives on you, you do risk the cops getting interested.

This knife thing happened to me once.

Anyway, try a local bar assn & ask for a counsultation for a half hour, it should be about $25.00

Well, I can see the cop’s concern. I personally would get nervious if someone was carrying a knife other than a pocket knife. However, it doesn’t not sound as if your friend did anything illegal, but a lawyer is definitely a good bet.

I do have a curious question though. How is he an eagle scout and a practicing witch? Don’t eagle scouts generally need to believe in God, or has something changed since I was a boy scout?

Ditto for all the “get a lawyer” posts. I would not bring up the pentacle necklace though. It’s irrelevant to the charge and and 18 yr old who’s a practicing witch is not going to get any respect. If the officer brings it up, your friend should just say he likes the necklace because it’s different/cool/whatever. Any adult can understand and respect this.
A CCW violation is a misdemeanor, IIRC, but he shouldn’t be convicted at all. A lawyer will give better advice.


BSA, Inc. requires that its members believe in “God” but (at least in theory) do not require that “God” be of any particular type. So a practicing witch who worships “the Goddess” would qualify for membership.


To amplify breakrun’s comments, your friend should explain the necklace to his lawyer, and then follow the lawyer’s advice. Nothing would be worse than having the cop mention a pentacle on the stand to alarm the jury who then see the defense lawyer standing there like a deer caught in headlights. Tell the lawyer everything – he’s legally obligated to keep anything confidential that your friend tells him; in fact, he can’t even tell the parents if the friend instructs him not to.


IMO, your friend should do three things:

  1. Tell his parents. He didn’t do anything wrong and they should support him. Even if they don’t, concealing this from them will only make him look guilty (which he isn’t).

  2. Get a lawyer to appeal the citation. He’s innocent and should not get bullied into paying a fine.

  3. Write a letter describing the incident in detail. Make sure the grammar and spelling are perfect and it is printed with readable font and margins. Take it to the local police station and ask to file a complaint against the officer who issued the citation. This officer abused his position and both he and his superiors should be reminded that “protect and serve” does not mean “bully, intimidate, and make it up as you go along”.

I am a huge supported of law and order, so please don’t take #3 as a general attack on police. In order for society to remain civil, law-abiding citizens need to know they won’t be harassed on the whim of police officers. Your friend complied with applicable laws, and he should not be subjected to harassment from a police officer who wants to extend the law to cover things that make him nervous. Compare to racial profiling and stop-and-frisks of anyone wearing the wrong color.

  1. I am a lawyer, and did solely criminal defense work when I practiced law.

  2. Get a lawyer.

The reason so many people posted this advice above is because it’s right on target. I doubt the color of the shirt or the necklace are going to have much relevance to a CCW charge, but your friend’s best bet is to explain everything to his lawyer and be guided by the lawyer’s advice.

  • Rick



You might also print this column to show to your friend’s parents. It might have a positive effect.


Personally? If your friend is certain he didn’t do anything wrong. In other words, he wasn’t actually carrying a concealed weapon, then I wouldn’t get a lawyer. I know that when I had to go to court on the charge of driving under a suspended license, everyone I talked to told me to get a lawyer, and have him plead it down, or something like that. I don’t believe in that. I personally think that you have to have faith in the system. If you’re innocent, go before the judge, explain everything, have people there to support the story, and trust in him to be fair, to uphold the law. I think too many people are too quick to say “Get a lawyer” and too slow to trust in the system. Anyway, just my 2 cents…worth exactlly that. Either way, Good luck.