Carrying a Knife in California?
California’s knife laws can be difficult to interpret because it is the most populous state in the country and has a diverse range of political viewpoints. Knowing the laws can help you avoid the severity and cost of a weapons charge if you intend to own or carry certain types of knives.
It should be known, however, that carrying a knife of any kind increases your chances of displeasing encounters with the law, as it is common for law enforcers to make knives-related arrests when no rule was broken.
What Knives are Illegal to Possess, and Where are They Restricted?
When it comes to owning and carrying knives in California, there are two important considerations: if the type of knife is legal or constrained and the open carry law. All knives, except non-locking folding knives with blades no longer than two and one-half inches, are prohibited on any public or private school property from kindergarten to university.
In local public buildings, meetings, airports, and passenger vessel terminals, any knife with a blade length greater than four inches, or a fixed blade that can be fixed in a careless position using one or two hands, is prohibited. Box cutters are not permitted in passenger terminals or airports. Another section prohibits the use of any unnoticeable knife in the sterile area of any public transportation facility.
Controversies Regarding the Interpretation of the Law
SEC. 9.10.010 Knives and daggers in “plain view”:
No one shall wear or carry a knife or dagger in plain view on any public street, other public places, or open area.
Note: This section does not detail the “plain view” concept. Some people consider a sheath to be concealment, while others do not.
Which is it, then? Some carrying positions are considered suspicious or concealing, even if only a portion of the blade is visible; therefore, what is the accepted way to carry these blades?
These are just a few legitimate questions that we can only interpret to the best of our abilities.
How are Knives or Daggers Defined under California Law?
“Knives” and “daggers” under Los Angeles City Code, Sec. 13.62.010, shall include any knife, dirk, or dagger having a blade 3 inches or more in length, any ice pick or similarly sharp tool, any straight-edge razor, or any razor blade fitted to a handle.
Penalties for Violating the Laws
Violations of California’s knife-carrying laws can land you in county jail or state prison for 1-3 years. A conviction for using a knife as a weapon may result in additional prison time. Knife crime laws and penalties differ depending on the type of knife, whether it is restricted, and whether it is legal to conceal.
A conviction of misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. If the charge is a felony, the fine can be up to $10,000, and you can spend up to sixteen months in county jail.
Suppose you are facing charges for a knife crime. In that case, you need an aggressive and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney representing you and fighting for your innocence and freedom as soon as possible.
When are you Exempted from the Law?
Carrying knives or daggers in plain view is prohibited under Section 55.10. The restrains in this section do not apply if a person is wearing or carrying a knife or dagger for use in a lawful occupation, for lawful recreational purposes, as a recognized religious practice, or while traveling to or from such activity.
If your knife does not meet the definition of that knife, it does not violate concealed carry or restriction laws. A switchblade, for example, must be at least 2 inches long, according to the definition. You cannot be convicted of carrying a switchblade if the blade of your knife is less than 2 inches long.
In summation, you can buy, own, transport, and carry any knife you want in California as long as it is not a prohibited knife. You can also freely collect Butterfly knives.
Concealed carrying of dirks and daggers is prohibited. Switchblades with blades 2 inches or longer, as well as other illegal blades discussed, are illegal to carry. Carrying a switchblade is a misdemeanor, and violating the carry statute is a felony. California knife laws are complex, and you should not attempt to defend yourself with one.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.