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What Type of Knives Are Illegal in California?

July 9, 2019

Switchblade, undetectable knives, ballistic knives and novelty knives are all illegal in California

What Type of Knives Are Illegal in California?

In California, there are strict rules about what type of knives can be carried and possessed.  Depending on the type of knife, it may be illegal to own it at all.  Understanding these laws is important to avoid being charged with a violation of California’s knife laws.

There are many types of knives that can be worn openly in California.  These include any type of knife that can cause serious injury through stabbing, such as a dirk or dagger.  Other knives, including folding knives, can be carried while concealed if they are closed.  That includes knives such as pocket knives, box cutters and other types of utility knives.

However, there are certain kinds of knives that cannot be carried in any way in California.  In fact, according to a criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA, it is illegal to even possess these knives in the state.  These knives include:

  • Switchblades;
  • Ballistic knives
  • Undetectable knives;
  • Balisongs;
  • Spring-loaded knives;
  • Cane swords and other novelty knives, such as belt buckle knives;
  • Gravity knives; and
  • Writing pen knives.

Possession of any of these knives is a criminal offense.  The type of knife will determine how it is charged.

Possession of a switchblade is a misdemeanor.  This crime is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  If the switchblade’s is locked open, with the blade locked, and is carried concealed on a person’s body, that the individual could be charged with carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.  Although dirks and daggers are legal under California law, it is against the law to carry them concealed.  This is a more significant criminal offense.

Possessing, selling, manufacturing or importing an undetectable knife — one that can’t be detected by metal detectors — is also a misdemeanor.  It is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Possession, sale, manufacture or import of any other type of illegal knife is a wobbler offense.  This means that it could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case and the individual’s criminal history.  If it is charged as a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  A felony offense is punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

There are many potential defenses to a charge related to possession of an illegal knife.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer Riverside, CA can analyze the facts of each case to develop the best possible defense.  For example, these offenses require that you knowingly had the knife on your person, and that the knife had the characteristics of a prohibited knife (for example, that you knew that the blade opened automatically).  If the prosecutor is unable to prove these elements, the charge may be dismissed or reduced.

At the Chambers Law Firm, we offer skillful representation to clients for any number of California criminal charges, including those related to illegal knife possession.  If you have been charged with this crime or any other crime, we can help.  Contact our office today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.


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