Carrying a Dangerous Weapon

In order to secure a conviction for Carrying a Dangerous Weapon (CDW) as a misdemeanor in Washington, D.C., the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the defendant carried a dangerous weapon on or about his/her person, (2) the defendant did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident; and (3) the object could be concealed on or about the person.

In order to prove this offense as a felony, the government must also prove that the defendant carried the dangerous weapon in a place other than his/her home, place of business, or land/premises possessed and controlled by the defendant.

A “dangerous weapon” is any object likely to produce death or great bodily injury by the use made of it.  Some objects may be used at tools or for other useful purposes.  The law does not prohibit carrying those objects for those other, beneficial purposes.  The government must therefore prove that the defendant intended to use the object at a dangerous weapon.

A person “carries a dangerous weapon” if the dangerous weapon is either in the person’s direct possession or is conveniently accessible/within reach.  Possession may be shared with one or more people.  Mere presence near a dangerous weapon or mere knowledge of its location is not enough to show that the defendant carried it.  Instead, the person must have the power and intent to exercise control over the weapon.

The offense of carrying a dangerous weapon is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.  The offense as a felony carries a maximum sentence of 5 years and/or fine of up to $5,000.  D.C. Code § 22-4504(a).   D.C. Code § 22-4515.