California Knife Laws

When it comes to California knife laws, residents and visitors alike must understand the regulations and potential consequences of non-compliance. While knives are common tools used in everyday life, certain types of knives and specific behaviors involving knives can lead to criminal charges. Ignorance of these laws is not a valid defense, making it essential to familiarize yourself with California’s knife laws to avoid unintentional violations from carrying a prohibited knife.

In California, some knives are outright illegal to possess, while others may be legal to own but unlawful to carry in certain circumstances. Violations of these laws can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the specific offense and the individual’s criminal history. Convictions can lead to fines, probation, and even imprisonment, not to mention the long-lasting impact of a criminal record on one’s personal and professional life.

Have you been charged with a knife crime in Los Angeles, California? If so, you need to immediately hire a lawyer to defend you. California knife laws are complicated, and you shouldn’t try to defend yourself.

How The Rodriguez Law Group Can Help If You’re Arrested for a Knife Crime 

California Knife LawsJail time can turn your life upside down. Luckily, an experienced California criminal defense attorney can help keep you out of jail, or at least limit the time that you spend there. 

At the Rodriguez Law Group, we know all about knife laws in California. That’s because Mr. Rodriguez has over 13 years of experience as a prosecutor. 

When you hire our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to defend your case, you’ll always get:

  • Expert legal advice on how California knife laws apply to you
  • A strategic defense designed to minimize your chances of conviction, and limit your jail time 
  • Investigation into the circumstances of the case and the legality of your arrest
  • A fierce advocate to cross-examine witnesses, including police officers
  • Negotiation for dismissal of the charges or a favorable plea deal

At Rodriguez Law Group, we’ll stop at nothing to help you secure freedom.

What Knives Are Legal to Carry in CA?

California has a lot of knife laws. Some laws govern what knives you can possess, while others control how you carry them. Not to mention that there are even more laws prohibiting what you can do with a knife. All of these laws make up the body of California’s knife laws.

Unlike other states, California has strict concealed weapon laws for knives. The California legislature classifies knives into 3 different categories:

  1. Knives that can be possessed openly but not concealed
  2. Knives that can be possessed openly or concealed
  3. Knives that are always illegal to possess, either openly or concealed

California courts follow a “substantially concealed” test when determining whether or not a knife is concealed. Under the code, a knife that is worn in a sheath and openly suspended from the waistband is not concealed. 

Knives That Can Be Openly Carried But Not Concealed 

In California, it is illegal to conceal a “dirk” or “dagger.” A dirk or dagger is a broad term. It means a fixed-blade knife capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that can inflict great bodily injury or death. When someone is charged with concealing a dirk or dagger, it is up to the jury to decide if the knife fits the definition.

Knives That Can Be Openly Carried or Concealed

California law allows people to conceal or openly carry folding knives, like Swiss Army knives, as long as they are folded and in a closed position. Folding knives may include switchblades, pocket knives, and certain utility knives.

If a folding knife is openly carried in an extended and locked position (ie: if it’s unfolded), then it becomes a dirk or dagger and must be carried in a sheath on the waistband. California allows people to carry folding knives of all sizes, but switchblades must have a blade that is 2 inches or less.

The difference between a switchblade and a folding knife is that a switchblade is usually opened by pushing a button that activates a spring, while a folding knife uses thumb pressure to open.

Knives That Are Always Illegal 

California generally prohibits certain weapons, including specific types of knives. In California, you cannot possess:

  • Air Gauge Knife
  • Belt Buckle Knife
  • Lipstick Case Knife
  • Writing Pen Knife
  • Undetectable Knife
  • Shobi-zue
  • Cane Sword
  • Ballistic Knife
  • Switchblade knife with a blade 2 inches or longer

It is also illegal to manufacture or sell any of these types of knives in California. 

What Other Crimes Are Associated with Knives?

Aside from concealed carry crimes, California also has other laws that further limit your right to have and use a knife. 

For example, in a state or local building it is illegal to possess switchblades (regardless of blade length) or a fixed knife with a 4” blade or longer. 

It is also illegal to possess certain knives on school premises, including:

  • Dirks and daggers
  • Knives with a blade longer than 2.5”
  • Folding knives with locking blades
  • Ice picks
  • Razors with unguarded blazed
  • Razor blades and box cutters 

Of course, California also has laws against brandishing a knife and assault with a deadly weapon.

What Are the Penalties for Knife Crimes in California

Unfortunately, California prosecutors have the power to charge some common knife crimes as either a felony or a misdemeanor. 

When charged as a misdemeanor, knife crimes generally carry up to 6 months or 1 year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. When charged as a more serious felony, it can carry 16 months to 3 years in jail, and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.

Brandishing a knife can result in 30 days to 3 years in jail, while assault with a deadly weapon has a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison.

Defenses to Knife Crimes in California

Depending on the knife crime you are charged with, there are several defenses that you can pursue. The best defense is always that you were carrying the knife properly and it is not one of the kinds that are restricted under the law. You can also argue that you weren’t knowingly in possession of the knife, especially if it’s found in your car or a bag.

If the police illegally stopped you, searched you, or seized the knife, you may be able to argue that it cannot be used as evidence in court. It will be extremely difficult for the prosecution to prove their case without the knife. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with our CA Criminal Defense Lawyers 

California knife laws can be confusing, but our lawyers at The Rodriguez Law Group know the rules. There’s no reason to risk being convicted of a felony, or spending time in jail or prison. We’re available for a free conversation to talk about your case.

Knife charges are serious and can mean jail time, or even a felony conviction. The best way to clear your name is to contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at (213) 995-6767 to stand up for you in court.