New York Penal Law 265.01(1) - The Per Se Weapon Crime Law

A person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, pursuant to New York Penal Law 265.01(1) when that person possesses weapons specified in the statute regardless of that person's intent. In other words, if you possess certain weapons, regardless of whether or not you intended to harm another person or use those weapons in any capacity, you are guilty of this misdemeanor weapon crime. Most New York knife lawyers call this statute the “per se” weapon crime law.

Practically speaking, most New York gravity knife attorneys and switchblade lawyers in the New York City area see police and prosecutors charging defendants with the “per se” statute when that person is accused of possessing a gravity knife, switchblade knife or some other type of blade. Often times, police officers with the New York City Police Department will see the knife clip protruding from a person’s pocket. The officers will approach that person and either pat down the pocket or ask to see what is inside. Once they confirm it is a knife, the officers will further seek to confirm it is a “per se” weapon of either a gravity knife or a switchblade knife. If you are like most innocent people accused of New York Penal Law 265.01 and you have limited or no prior contact with law enforcement, you will likely be issued a Desk Appearance Ticket. In this scenario you will avoid the stress of spending up to 24 hours in jail before seeing a judge. However, despite the fact that you were not put through the system, you have been arrested.

As noted in the general misdemeanor weapon crime section, many jurisdictions in New York charge all weapon crimes as top level offenses. In fact, Manhattan prosecutors, for example, follow a guideline at arraignment (when you see a judge) that specifically does not permit any lower offer to those accused of a New York knife crime. In short, few if any experienced criminal lawyers will allow their clients to merely accept a criminal record by pleading guilty. After all, many people accused of this offense had not idea their actions were criminal when they bought the knife at Home Depot, Lowes or a hardware store. Therefore, it is incumbent upon your counsel to challenge the legality of the search, determine whether or not the knife in question is a gravity or switchblade knife (your attorney can ask to see the weapon), and / or mitigate your alleged conduct in order to put you in a position to not only try to avoid a criminal record, but any type of record that will damage your future.

New York Penal Law 265.01(1) - Defining & Identifying Knives

While some knives are criminal merely to possess, some are only criminal if used in a particular way. The following knives are “per se” weapons:

Gravity Knife – A gravity knife is a knife containing a blade that is released from its handle. This blade is released through the force of gravity. Once released, the blade then locked in place usually by a button or similar device. A gravity knife can be open with a motion as simple as a flick of the wrist.

Switchblade Knife – Unlike a gravity knife, a switchblade knife springs open automatically when a button or pressure is applied to the handle.

Pilum Ballistic Knife – Similar to a switchblade knife, a pilum ballistic knife utilizes some form of pressure on the handle to project a knife from within that handle.

Metal Knuckle Knife – A combination between “brass knuckles” and a knife, only when the blade is open can a metal knuckle knife serve as both knuckles and a knife.

For further information on crimes relating to weapon possession as well as legal decisions impacting this area of law, please review our New York criminal law blog at as well as the Criminal Possession of a Weapon section.

Call the New York gravity knife lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today

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