It is a Crime to Possess Brass Knuckles

By Jedidiah McKeehan

We have all seen the movie where the good guy is about to enter into an epic fist fight with the bad guy. As the two of them stare each other down, we watch the bad guy put on a set of brass knuckles so he can inflict maximum pain on the good guy.

This makes sense since he’s the bad guy, but his very possession of brass knuckles is against the law in Tennessee.

Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1302 states: A person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs or sells: an explosive or an explosive weapon; a device principally designed, made or adapted for delivering or shooting an explosive weapon; a machine gun; hoax device; knuckles; or any other implement for infliction of serious bodily injury or death that has no common law purpose.

The law goes on to list some exceptions when people can use and keep these items, but generally it is illegal to even own these items. To own brass knuckles is a Class A misdemeanor.

After reading this law, I am really interested to know what in the world qualifies as a hoax device.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.