Billy Club Law and Legal Definition

In New York possession of a billy makes a person guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. The term billy is not defined by Penal law. However case law state that “a billy is a heavy wooden stick with a handle grip which, from its appearance, is designed to be used to strike an individual and not for other lawful purposes”[ People v. Talbert, 107 A.D.2d 842, 844 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep't 1985)]

According to Penal Law, § 265.01 certain objects such as firearms, electronic dart guns, gravity and switchblade knives, billies, blackjacks and metal knuckles are clearly used unlawfully as weapons and can seldom be used for any legitimate purpose. Mere possession of these items is per se unlawful (Penal Law, § 265.01, subd [1]). Even though other objects such as knives or razors are often used unlawfully as weapons, they also have legitimate functions. Therefore possession of these objects "or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon" is unlawful only if there is an intent to use the object unlawfully against another (Penal Law, § 265.01, subd [2]).

In People v. Talbert, 107 A.D.2d 842, 844 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep't 1985) the court reasoned that Billy even though means a policeman's nightstick or billy club it can also be many other everyday objects, such as wooden sticks and tool handles, which in general terms, look like a billy and, in criminal hands it can serve the purpose of a billy. It is clear from the statutory scheme that the Legislature did not intend to make mere possession of such objects per se unlawful. Therefore based on the manner in which the statute is set forth, the term "billy" must be strictly interpreted to mean a heavy wooden stick with a handle grip which, from its appearance, is designed to be used to strike an individual and not for other lawful purposes. An object which can be used as a billy but which does not fit the strict definition may still be a prohibited weapon under subdivision (2) of section 265.01 of the Penal Law if there exists the requisite intent to use the object unlawfully against another. In Talbert the object in question was a broom handle, 24 to 30 inches in length, with tape wrapped around each end. The court held that the fact that the term "billy" must be strictly construed does not mean that only a commercially manufactured nightstick fits the definition. A homemade object, even one fashioned from as innocent an item as a broom, can be a "billy".

In People v. Schoonmaker, 40 A.D.2d 1066, 1066-1067 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep't 1972) court held that a “policemen’s club" fits any standard definition of the term "billy."

NY CLS Penal § 265.01 reads as follows:

§ 265.01. Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or "Kung Fu star"; or

(2) He possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another; or

(3) He or she knowingly has in his or her possession a rifle, shotgun or firearm in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college or university, except the forestry lands, wherever located, owned and maintained by the State University of New York college of environmental science and forestry, or upon a school bus as defined in section one hundred forty-two of the vehicle and traffic law, without the written authorization of such educational institution; or

(4) He possesses a rifle or shotgun and has been convicted of a felony or serious offense; or

(5) He possesses any dangerous or deadly weapon and is not a citizen of the United States; or

(6) He is a person who has been certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun, as defined in subdivision sixteen of section 265.00, and refuses to yield possession of such rifle or shotgun upon the demand of a police officer. Whenever a person is certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun, a member of the police department to which such certification is made, or of the state police, shall forthwith seize any rifle or shotgun possessed by such person. A rifle or shotgun seized as herein provided shall not be destroyed, but shall be delivered to the headquarters of such police department, or state police, and there retained until the aforesaid certificate has been rescinded by the director or physician in charge, or other disposition of such rifle or shotgun has been ordered or authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction.

(7) He knowingly possesses a bullet containing an explosive substance designed to detonate upon impact.

(8) He possesses any armor piercing ammunition with intent to use the same unlawfully against another.

Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor.