New York Knife Possession Crimes: FAQ
Criminal lawyers experienced in the Penal Law will tell you that carrying or possessing certain knives in New York State or City – switchblade, metal knuckle or pilum ballistic –is illegal and violates Penal Law 265.01(1). If it can be proven that you intended to use the knife for some unlawful purpose, such as to intimidate, threaten or harm another person, it can also violate Penal Law 265.01(2). While it is still a somewhat open question from a legal perspective, everyone should know that the NYPD as well as the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and many, if not all, other prosecutor’s offices, view carrying any blade “for your protection” as an unlawful purpose. That would mean you would likely be arrested, issued an Appearance Ticket, Desk Appearance Ticket or DAT, and charged with a criminal offense. Keep in mind that a conviction for these misdemeanors can land you in jail for up to one year.
As noted above, certain kinds of blades are illegal to possess regardless of how you intend to use them or the reason you are carrying the object. These are referred to as “per se” weapons, meaning that the legislature has determined that they are unlawful as a matter of law and there is no legitimate reason to possess the same. Another view is that they are so inherently dangerous that nobody should ever possess one. These include switchblades, pilum ballistic knives, metal knuckle knives and automatic knives such a stiletto or cane sword.
Assuming you are convicted, Penal Law 265.01 is a class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. However, if you have any prior criminal record, the law allows prosecutors to “bump up” your case to a class “D” felony of Penal Law 265.02(1). In such a case, a judge can sentence you to as long as seven years prison. On the other end of the spectrum, NYC has its own law that is punishable by up to 15 days in jail.
Generally, and assuming there is no corresponding intent to use it unlawfully, it is legal to possess a butterfly knife. Know, however, that definitions may vary as to what constitutes this type of “weapon” and if it does not comport with the law, then it could be illegal.
The answer to this question depends entirely on the characteristics of the particular item. If it does not qualify as a “per se” weapon, and there is no intent by the person to use it for any unlawful purpose (or probable cause to believe that they were doing so), then it can be legal to carry a pocket knife. Keep in mind that knives over four inches are unlawful in New York City whether or not their possession violates Penal Law 265.01. Possession of such a blade would violate NYC Administrative Code 10-133.
While there is no size restriction in the state, AC 10-133 makes it illegal to carry a knife with a blade that is four inches or longer. This may seem unbelievable given that we possess them in the kitchen, for example, and they are readily available at stores across the United States. Obvious issues aside, possessing such an object is punishable by a fine or up to 15 days in jail regardless of any unlawful intent. Needless to say, the discretion of police officers comes into play heavily in these circumstances and the law is enforced by way of a “pink” summons.
A gravity knife is defined as one that has a blade in the handle that can be released either by use of gravity or centrifugal force and which then locks in place in the open position. Just possessing this “weapon” was a crime for many years, even without any intent to use it for any criminal purpose. This definition is very broad and could be used to encompass all kinds of what would commonly be considered “normal” knives such as those used for work and readily available on websites or stores such as Home Depot. On May 30, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law removing these from the statute that lists “per se” weapons. This bill brought the law into compliance with a federal court decision that determined that our laws in this regard were too vague and, therefore, unconstitutional. Additionally, and equally relevant, these blades are no longer considered “deadly weapons.” It is, therefore, now legal to carry, provided no other circumstances exist that might otherwise make it illegal.
Saland Law’s criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors represent clients in all matters throughout the metropolitan area and lower Hudson Valley.
Call the criminal defense team and former prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.