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Concealed Knife Laws in California

Posted in Criminal Defense on May 23, 2019

California has modern, up-to-date concealed knife laws that are largely weapon friendly. If you live in the state of California, you can conceal carry most large and small knives, with a few exceptions. It is legal to purchase and possess bowie knives, as well as large knives, with no restrictions in size. It is only when one tries to conceal carry misleading, undetectable, or ballistic knives that one could get into legal trouble.

What are California's Knife Laws?

What Does California Laws Say?

California has laws in place specifically regarding the concealment of knives, rather than only the purchase or possession of knives. Understanding what types of knives you can open carry, concealed carry, or not own at all is important if you wish to stay on the right side of the law. In broad legal terms, California has three categories of knives.

Three Types of Knives

  1. Knives one can wear openly, but not conceal. It is against the law to conceal carry a dagger or dirk, but it is not illegal to carry these knives openly. It is illegal to carry these knives in purses, satchels, briefcases, other containers, or pockets. It is legal, however, to carry a dirk or dagger out in the open, in a sheath attached to the waist. Examples of dirks and daggers include ice picks and chef’s knives.
  2. Knives one can wear openly or conceal. It is legal to both open carry and conceal folding knives, pocketknives, box cutters, and utility knives in California. If the pocketknife is a switchblade, however, it is not legal to carry this type of knife. Most utility knives fall under this category, unless the knife has an exposed blade that’s locked into position. In these cases, the knife is technically a dirk or dagger, and must comply with related laws.
  3. Knives that are always illegal to carry. California law does not allow open or concealed carry of certain types of knives: ballistic knives, novelty knives, misleading knives, undetectable knives, and switchblades with a blades more than two inches long. Misleading knives such as lipstick or cane knives are always against the law, as are knives that will not trigger metal detectors.

Additional restrictions exist in certain locations. It is always against the law to carry a knife into a school, as schools are weapons-free zones. It is also illegal to bring knives into certain public buildings, such as courthouses and airports. It is typically against the law to carry a knife onto property the U.S. government owns.

Punishments for Breaking California’s Concealed Knife Laws

The point of California’s knife law is to prevent knife-related crimes for example assault or other violent crimes. Knives that do not have uses for work or knives that don’t look like knives are the most commonly used in crimes. These are the knives it is illegal to possess or conceal carry in California. Breaking the concealed knife laws can lead to significant penalties, as the state needs to prove that it will not tolerate people carrying weapons they should not possess. Enforcing concealed weapons laws can keep California safer, and ideally prevent violent crimes.

The punishment for breaking California’s knife law is typically a misdemeanor, with potential fines and jail time. Someone could serve up to three years in jail or a state prison for breaking the knife laws – even if that person had no intent of committing a crime with the weapon. If someone does commit a crime, the courts can impose an additional sentence for breaking the concealed weapons law.

Defenses for an alleged concealed knife crime could include the knife did not meet the legal definition of the one prohibited, the defendant did not know he or she carried the knife, the defendant worn a dirk or dagger openly, or that the police found the knife during an unlawful search or seizure.