Registering Hand as Deadly Weapons
No state requires boxers, or anyone skilled in martial arts, to register their hands or any other body part as lethal weapons. Whether hands, or other body parts, even qualify as a deadly weapons depends upon how "deadly weapon," "lethal weapon," or "deadly force" is defined in the law. See, e.g., Vitauts M. Gulbis, "Parts of the Human Body, Other Than Feet, as Deadly or Dangerous Weapons for Purposes of Statutes Aggravating Offenses Such as Assault and Robbery," 8 A.L.R.4th 1268 (1981 and supplements); Christopher Vaeth, "Kicking as Aggravated Assault, or Assault With Dangerous or Deadly Weapon," 19 A.L.R.5th 823 (1995 and supplements). Most statutes require an object external to the human body before the "deadly weapon" element of a crime may be met. For example, in Minnesota v. Bastin, 572 N.W.2d 281 (Minn. 1997), the Minnesota Supreme Court overruled the trial court's conclusion that the left fist of the defendant, a former licensed professional prizefighter, was a "deadly weapon."
However, some courts have concluded that a criminal defendant's experience in boxing or martial arts should be considered when deciding whether he or she possessed a required intent to cause harm. For instance, in Trujillo v. State, 750 P.2d 1334 (Wyo. 1988), the Wyoming Supreme Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendant's conviction for aggravated assault after he punched someone in the head. His history as a trained boxer was one bit of evidence supporting the jury's findings on his mental state. Also, in the Matter of the Welfare of D.S.F., 416 N.W.2d 772 (Minn. App. 1988), the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that the actions of the defendant, who had "substantial experience in karate," were sufficient to demonstrate his knowledge that he was hitting the victim with sufficient force to break the victim's jaw.
A criminal defendant's boxing or martial arts experience may be relevant to determining the validity of a self-defense claim. For instance, in Idaho v. Babbit, 120 Idaho 337, 815 P.2d 1077 (Idaho App. 1991), the defendant shot the victim and claimed self-defense. The trial court admitted evidence regarding the defendant's past training and experience as a boxer, concluding that it was relevant to a determination of whether the defendant truly believed it was necessary to shoot the victim in order to protect himself and others. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed.