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Use Those Handcuffs for Manifestly Appropriate Purposes Only, Please:

From the New Jersey Code, §§ 2C-39.3(k), 2C-39.9.2:

Any person who knowingly has in his possession handcuffs [defined as "a device, conventionally used for law enforcement purposes, that can be tightened and locked about the wrists for the purpose of restraining a person's movement"] under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

You can guess what my question is.

Matt_T:
Who draws the line on what is appropriate?
3.3.2009 2:36pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Not on a family blog
3.3.2009 2:36pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Given how common it has become for plastic ratchetting ties to be used as handcuffs, it would seem that in New Jersey one could commit an offense by keeping such ties for use on trash bags.
3.3.2009 2:38pm
Ken Arromdee:
If you're trying to suggest it's an anti-bondage law, I don't see it. Assuming bondage is lawful in the first place, then having handcuffs for sexual purposes obviously would count as having them under circumstances appropriate for lawful uses.
3.3.2009 2:38pm
Angus:
First they came for the magicians, and we said nothing...Next they came for the [censored] who [censored] to each other, and we said, "Stop! We want to watch this some more!"
3.3.2009 2:39pm
krs:
Nice, Angus.
3.3.2009 2:41pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
I am guessing that the four sets of handcuffs clasped to each corner of the bed might have triggered prosecution under this statute -- at least before Lawrence v. Texas.
3.3.2009 2:42pm
Bill Snowden (mail):
I'd like to see some of the caselaw interpreting "manifestly appropriate", instead of just "appropriate."

On the other hand...we are talking NJ, here....
3.3.2009 2:45pm
hattio1:
Angus definitely wins the thread.
3.3.2009 2:47pm
Conceited Jerk:
Would "manifestly appropriate" survive a vagueness attack? Frankly, this statute leaves me guessing at its meaning, and I consider myself a reasonable person. Vagueness challenges are rarely successful outside the 1st Amendment context, but here, the argument that this statute would unduly chill exercise of individuals' sexual expression seems plausible.
3.3.2009 2:50pm
Conceited Jerk:
Afterthought: Would this statute prohibit people from handcuffing themselves during a public protest as a symbolic gesture? If so, I think there are definitely 1st Amendment implications, especially as to vagueness and overbreadth.
3.3.2009 2:52pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Could this be an attempt to prohibit the possession of handcuffs by people other than law enforcement personnel, on the theory that the lawful uses of handcuffs are the control of prisoners by LEOs?
3.3.2009 2:57pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@Bill Poser:

The question is, do ratcheting ties lock? That seems to be the crucial element, and it could be argued that anything which can be locked implies that it can be unlocked, which a ratcheting tie generally cannot - it must instead be cut.

In a recreational context, the question is whether those purposes are lawful.

Another question: does there exist a significant intersection between the set of circumstances "manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses" and the set of circumstances conducive to an unlawful use?

And another: what if you don't know you have handcuffs? Can you just act surprised when the officer finds them?
3.3.2009 2:58pm
Occasionally (mail):
The answer to your question might not be "manifestly appropriate" ...

Can a device be forbidden on the basis of its "reservation" for a purpose in which it is only "conventionally" used, not even a "primary" use? That is; deesn't that description itself infer other valid uses?

Thank goodness I only have shackles, trammels, hobbles and wrist bonds.

I wonder if that includes the new disposable "Nylon Restraints" (originally "Wire ties") that have become the standard replacement for "handcuffs" in police departments as well as in the Armed Services.

That is one of the products that is doing quite well in making its manufacturers a profit on increased sales...
3.3.2009 3:08pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Caliban Darklock,

While it may be true that a lock must be unlockable, the statute does not require that the device in question be "a lock". Rather, it requires that it be lockable. Something can be lockable without being unlockable. Think of, for example, locking nuts, the whole point of which is that they cannot be unlocked: removing them requires extreme measures.
3.3.2009 3:10pm
Javert:
An undergrad was passing through security to catch a flight to visit his girlfriend. Guess what he had in his carry on, and imagine the fun he had trying to explain it to TSA.
3.3.2009 3:32pm
John A (mail):
Ropes have been tied with "locking" knots for thousands of years, and police patrol cars almost certainly have some so it is conventionally used by LEOs: would those LEOs be subject to prosecution if they used rope to, say, pull a drowning person from the water?
3.3.2009 3:42pm
Jam:
Electricians, computer geeks and otherwise creative people beware. Do not get caught with zip, velcro etc. cable ties.
3.3.2009 3:46pm
Jam:
And, when a LEO handcuffs a person, will possession of the handcuffs be another charge added?
3.3.2009 3:48pm
Putting Two and Two...:
If you "have in your possession handcuffs under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have" you are either 1) using them for some less-than-manifestly appropriate purpose such as uh, cutting birthday cake or 2) just waiting until a manifestly appropriate purpose arises, no?

In other words, use 'em or lose 'em, I guess.

In a pinch, those somewhat nerdy, velcro pant-leg-straps can come in handy. Or so I hear.
3.3.2009 3:49pm
NowMDJD (mail):
Seriously, the statute may apply to things like whipping people with handcuffs or torturing people in custody by hog-tying them, securing them in painful positions, etc.
3.3.2009 3:51pm
Loren Heal (mail) (www):
Not only is the statute vague, but it is plainly nonsensical. The only purpose to which a pair of handcuffs can be put that distinguishes it from a pair of eyeglasses or a pair of jeans is to restrain a person. The law therefor says that is unlawful to possess the means to restrain someone unless it is obviously going to be legal to do so. And yet who can know, prior to being attacked by them or making a successful proposition, when it will be lawful, as a means of self-defense or personal recreation, to restrain someone?

But it is probably not appropriate to say, since that point would be manifest to anyone here.
3.3.2009 4:00pm
pintler:

Could this be an attempt to prohibit the possession of handcuffs by people other than law enforcement personnel, on the theory that the lawful uses of handcuffs are the control of prisoners by LEOs?


Well, then, what are the pink ones for?
3.3.2009 4:02pm
Adam B. (www):
"Locked" is a narrower term than "secured" -- it implies that a key or some other unique means is used in creating the restraint. Some of the restraints listed here aren't handcuffs.
3.3.2009 4:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Why do I think of what happened (a long time ago) when Berkeley's vice squad went undercover to a B&D parlor, and decided that as sick as it was, it didn't really qualify as prostitution, because it wasn't about sexual gratification, quite. (The parallel to voting, however....)
3.3.2009 4:10pm
ShelbyC:
keep in mind, the circumstances have to be manifestly appropriate for a lawful use. So if you have a pair on each bedpost, you're fine, but if you have a pair in your drawer, you're going to jail.
3.3.2009 4:13pm
RPT (mail):
Not another Limbaugh thread.....
3.3.2009 4:31pm
Dave N (mail):
Gosh, When I was 11, I bought a pair of handcuffs at Disneyland because I thought they were cool. Growing up in a rather sheltered environment, I had no idea they had any use other than restraining crooks. Little did I know that I would be breaking the law myself if I brought them to New Jersey.
3.3.2009 4:35pm
Tammy Cravit (mail):
I'd be interested in knowing the legislative history of this statute, and precisely what motivated somebody or other to enact it. What problem was the State of New Jersey trying to solve here? (Whether they succeeded at solving any problem is, of course, a separate discussion).
3.3.2009 4:37pm
Working Man:
The real question is who is actually in possession of the handcuffs when they are used "under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have."

Assuming disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, the violation must be witnessed by law enforcement before charges can be brought.

Therefore I suggest you check the parties attendants against the guest list one more time lest someone could be caught in a manifestly inappropriate circumstance.
3.3.2009 4:38pm
Bama 1L:
Seriously, the statute may apply to things like whipping people with handcuffs or torturing people in custody by hog-tying them, securing them in painful positions, etc.

There are going to be some disappointed Googlers.
3.3.2009 4:41pm
tsotha:
Isn't citizen's arrest a "manifestly appropriate" use for handcuffs? Couldn't I claim to possess them just in case I needed to restrain a shoplifter, for example?
3.3.2009 4:47pm
Fidelity (mail) (www):
What's the punishment for violating this law? A spanking for being such a naughty boy?
3.3.2009 4:59pm
A Law Dawg:
There are going to be some disappointed Googlers.


Nonsense. See Rule of the Internet 34.
3.3.2009 5:03pm
SeaDrive:
First they came for the handcuffs, then they came Ashley's Book of Knots.
3.3.2009 5:05pm
Arkady:
I always thought that bondage among the newly adventurous would begin something like this:

Husband (or Wife): Uh, are the cuffs too tight, honey?
3.3.2009 5:19pm
ming (mail):
How does a law decide who is guilty without a trial, et cetera?
3.3.2009 5:43pm
Kirk:
pintler,

We have plenty of female LEOs these days, you know.
3.3.2009 6:17pm
karl m (mail):
If a cop uses his /hers to reatrain a prisioner to be able to torture him /her is punishable?
3.3.2009 7:07pm
Frater Plotter:
Metal handcuffs are not appropriate for bondage anyway. Tightening metal handcuffs around the wrists, or pulling or straining against them, can cause permanent nerve damage in the wrists. Proper bondage cuffs are made of leather or fabric, and distribute the force of a person pulling against them over a larger area. Improvised options include scarves, shirts, or other wide pieces of fabric.

Safe, sane, and consensual, folks.
3.3.2009 7:38pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
And yet who can know, prior to being attacked by them or making a successful proposition, when it will be lawful, as a means of self-defense or personal recreation, to restrain someone?
I'd think possession by a kidnapper would be an easy call.
I'd be interested in knowing the legislative history of this statute, and precisely what motivated somebody or other to enact it.
No you wouldn't. Trying to figure out why Legislatures do what they do is a good way to end up needing to be handcuffed.
3.3.2009 8:01pm
BGates:
Think of, for example, locking nuts
Dude. This is a family blog.

Not another Limbaugh thread.....

Not for the rest of us, RPT, but if hints of kinky sex games makes you think of Rush Limbaugh, you go right ahead.
3.3.2009 9:37pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Naturally the question of 'manifestly appropriate' would be settled by a daily poll over at DailyKos. Sounds Constitutional to me! ;)
3.3.2009 9:48pm
Jersey:
Guess I can't use them when I tickle someone then. Bummer.
3.3.2009 10:09pm
whit:

pintler,

We have plenty of female LEOs these days, you know.


plastic coated colored cuffs are all the rage these days.

i have seen officers with blue ones, PINK ones, green ones, etc.

i do not know if i have the guts to wear the pink cuffs.

thus far, only female officers have worn them that i have seen.
3.3.2009 10:47pm
tsotha:
<i>thus far, only female officers have worn them that i have seen.
</i>
Seems like a motivational tool for macho detainees. "Be good or I'll put you in the pink cuffs".
3.4.2009 12:11am
Icarus:
Looks like just another ignorant example of the New Jersey Pols trying to restrict the freedom of law abiding citizens. If possession of handcuffs makes a person guilty, does possession of a penis for males means that he has the potential for Rape and should be restrained. When will the madness stop !!!!!!.
3.4.2009 12:25am
Splunge:
If you're using the cuffs for one o' them manifestly legal adult uses, I guess you are being a disorderly person. I mean, assuming you're doing it right.
3.4.2009 1:19am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

"Locked" is a narrower term than "secured" -- it implies that a key or some other unique means is used in creating the restraint.


Not true. The active verb "to lock" has such an implication, but we refer to things being "locked" that involve no key or other such device, e.g. "push part A into part B until they lock". Note also the usage "locking nut".
3.4.2009 2:18am
Daryl Herbert (www):
What cop has magic handcuffs that cannot be used for improper purposes?

Arrest all policemen! And use their own handcuffs to do it! After all, you can't take their handcuffs into your own possession, or you would be in violation of the same law.
3.4.2009 3:20am
whit:

What cop has magic fuzzy handcuffs that cannot be used for improper purposes


fixed that for ya!
3.4.2009 4:00am
Gary McGath (www):
I think it says -- or at least a good lawyer could argue that it says -- that using handcuffs unlawfully is unlawful.
3.4.2009 6:55am
Mikee (mail):
Texas has similar statutes barring public possession of common items, because of a presumption (at least at some time in the past) that the mere possession of such items demonstrated criminal intent. Among those items are butterfly knives, switchblades, and Bowie knives. I'm glad nobody told this to that guy in the Alamo, though, he might have had to disagree with you. And he had a Bowie knife. Personally, I'd rather face the handcuff owners of New Jersey than him in a disorderly conflict situation.
3.4.2009 8:56am
DiverDan (mail):
Assume that a New Jersey Police Officer, in Uniform, with his sidearm properly holstered and his handcuffs properly attached to his belt, is in a 4th Grade Classroom, giving a presentation on public safety to the students. In that situation, are the circumstances "manifestly appropriate" for the lawful use of the handcuffs? Would a reasonable person consider it inappropriate if the Police Officer used the cuffs to subdue a 4th Grader who was a little hyper and was distracting the class? If so, isn't the Police Officer's possession of the cuffs in such a situation a violation of the defined offense? Indeed, I can think of any number of circumstances in which a LEO might be find himself where any customary use of handcuffs would not be "manifestly appropriate".
3.4.2009 10:58am
Sigivald (mail):
"Carrying them around because they look cool" is a lawful purpose, is it not?

(In that it is lawful*, and it is a purpose.

* Because it's only unlawful [violates this ordinance] if the purpose is... er... unlawful. What a great circular definition I've found!)

Hurray for poorly drafted laws!
3.4.2009 4:15pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
Texas has similar statutes barring public possession of common items, because of a presumption (at least at some time in the past) that the mere possession of such items demonstrated criminal intent.
Texas also has laws prohibiting the sale of common items that demonstrate sexual intent. Not that I'm proud of that.
3.4.2009 5:06pm
NickM (mail) (www):

The only purpose to which a pair of handcuffs can be put that distinguishes it from a pair of eyeglasses or a pair of jeans is to restrain a person.


Not true. I have seen a pair of handcuffs used as a bike lock.

Nick
3.5.2009 4:32am
whit:

Not true. I have seen a pair of handcuffs used as a bike lock.

Nick



unless they were specially keyed handcuffs, that would be profoundly stupid, since handcuffs are generally universally keyed.
3.5.2009 6:08pm
NickM (mail) (www):
whit - it was on a college campus right by the front entrance to a building. I have a feeling that the guy was not worried about the possibility of someone walking by who had handcuff keys handy and deciding to steal the bike. It does keep the bike in place better than hoping.

Nick
3.5.2009 10:39pm

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