If you can afford to hire a good lawyer, it would likely be worth it. A lawyer can negotiate with the DA and try to work out a more favorable outcome.
Agreed with MS Lisonbee, get an attorney. You can't represent your son and if he tries it himself it I'll be a recipe for disaster.
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There may be mitigating or exculpatory facts that were not provided in the posting so my recommendation is that your son consult with a few attorneys to determine what defenses he does have. Many reputable attorneys offer a free consultation so go for it. Good luck.
The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.
Your son needs an attorney. He should not represent himself.
ANDREW ROBERTS CRIMINAL AND TRAFFIC TICKET DEFENSE ATTORNEY
A lot will depend on exactly what your son told the officer. However, the knife in the car does offer many more possible defenses that a knife in his pocket. For example, where was it in the car? In the trunk is better than under the seat. If not a complete defense, it is certainly a mitigating factor and a lawyer should be used to minimize any damage to your son.
Yes, the bottom line is that he'll need an attorney.
Your question is vague regarding details that may matter in this case. You don't say why your son was contacted, why he was questioned regarding weapons, why his car was searched, etc.
There may be factual defenses (it's not a switchblade knife under the law), legal defenses (search issues, etc.) or other ways to reduce/dismiss this case. Discuss any and all options with his attorney...
The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.
There are several issues that can be developed to make this case better for your son. First of all, his age and lack of record should be highlighted for the prosecutor. There may also be issues related to the search of your son's car and if the car was searched illegally the evidence can get thrown out of court. The statements your son will need to be carefully scrutinized. Your son needs an experienced criminal defense attorney in his area who can evaluate all the issues and bring about a fair outcome. One thing is for sure, if he has no criminal record he should do everything he can to keep it that way.
The other answers you've received are correct. The defense your son should use is the defense that his attorney comes up with after reviewing the police report, speaking with your son and establishing what is most important in terms of outcome for your son. PC 21510 is a misdemeanor. His lack of record will weigh in his favor. Forgetting that it's in the car doesn't establish a defense because he did know at some point and may have admitted as much to the cop. His honesty will be used against him, unfortunately. My best guesses at the moment for defenses your son might have are either that the officer didn't have a right to search (but your son may have consented) and that the knife was not a switchblade.
If your son has no rap, a good lawyer should be able to convince one of the DA's in Rancho to work this case out without an adversarial hearing. They are pretty reasonable by comparison to other courthouses. If your son is a gang banger with a violent record, you can still keep him out of jail by spending a little money on alternative confinement.