With security being at an all-time high, and even more so in governmental facilities, people may often wonder what they can and cannot take inside of a courthouse. Similar to going through a TSA check prior to a flight, almost all courthouses in California have security and screening at the front door. Because a court is a place where orders are made daily that could cause extreme emotion, dangerous situations could occur. For this reason and for the overall safety of court staff, Judges and all present, the California courts have an extensive list of what is prohibited in their courthouses.
While the screening by security at the front doors typically has a banner/poster with a list of prohibited items, you can avoid delay in screening by checking the courts website prior to visiting as many Counties publish their prohibited items lists online. Here is an example for the Amador County Superior Court in Northern California: Prohibited Items. Most courts have a similar list published on their website so a little research can save the trouble at the door. Find your local court here. For the most part, all courts are in agreement that the following items are not permitted:
- · Any firearms except those possessed by law enforcement officers on duty, regardless of possession of a “Carrying Concealed Weapon” (CCW) Permit.
- · All knives, regardless of length.
- · Stun guns, tasers, pepper sprays, chemical mace or tear gas weapons.
- · All gun-shaped lighters, toy guns and replica guns.
- · Handcuffs & handcuff keys, except those possessed by sworn law enforcement officers on duty.
- · All scissors with a length in excess of 3 inches.
- · Razors, box cutters and “Exacto” type tools, except those possessed by persons entering the Courthouse for the purpose of construction, maintenance, clean-up or repair work.
- · All large tools (screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, hammers, etc.) in excess of 6 inches in length except those possessed by persons entering the Courthouse for the purpose of construction, maintenance, cleanup or repair work.
- · Ice picks and darts.
- · Letter openers with sharp points or exposed sharp edges.
- · Heavy-duty wire/heavy gauge chains, except those possessed by persons entering the Courthouse for the purpose of construction, maintenance, clean-up or repair work.
- · Laser pointers, except those for use by attorneys in courtroom presentations.
- · All skateboards/skates.
- · Needles/syringes, except those possessed by persons with a doctor’s order or prescription documenting the medical need for medication administered by needles or syringes.
- · All flammable liquids.
What Happens if I bring a Prohibited Item to Court? In the event that you bring a prohibited item to a courthouse do not worry. It is the job of security at the front doors to help keep the court safe and this includes doing a metal detector search and x-ray screening of possessions. In the event that you were un-aware and brought something on the list to the court, they will allow you to either return to your car and drop the item. Keep in mind that the lists published by the court are general lists, meaning the court security staff has the final say. It has not been un-common for security to turn away people who have nail clippers in their possession. While it may seem a bit strict, keep in mind that the restrictions are for the general protection of all.