New York Crimes Related to Knives: FAQ

Why is a gravity knife illegal?

In New York, a gravity knife is defined as a knife 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 a gravity knife is a crime in New York, even without any intent to use it for any criminal purpose. A gravity knife is what's called a “per se” weapon in New York, which means that it is a weapon by definition, and it is illegal to possess a gravity knife in any circumstances.

Is a butterfly knife a gravity knife?

Whether a knife is a “gravity knife” under New York law depends entirely on the particular knife. A typical butterfly knife is not a gravity knife. Although a skilled person can open a butterfly knife with one hand by using centrifugal force, a standard butterfly knife will not then automatically lock into the open position, which is required for it to be considered a “gravity knife.”

What knives are illegal to carry in New York City?

It is illegal to carry any knife in New York City if it can be proven that you intended to use the knife for some unlawful purpose. Certain kinds of knives are illegal to possess in New York City regardless of any intent to use the knife. These knives are referred to as “per se” weapons, and they are listed and defined in the New York State Penal Law, PL 265.00. These knives include switchblades, gravity knives, pilum ballistic knives, metal knuckle knives and automatic knives such a stiletto or cane sword.

Is it legal to carry a pocket knife in NY?

It depends on the characteristics of the particular knife. If the knife does not qualify as a gravity knife, or other “per se” weapon, and there is no intent by the person with the knife to use it for any unlawful purpose (or probable cause that they were doing so), then it may be legal to carry a pocket knife in NY. Keep in mind that knives over certain sizes are unlawful whether or not their possession violates New York Penal Law 265.01.

What is the legal size of a knife in NY?

While there is no size restriction in New York State, it is illegal to carry a knife with a blade that is four inches or longer in New York City. Possessing such a knife is punishable by a fine or up to 15 days in jail.

Call the New York State criminal defense lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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