California Knife Laws?

So as far as a I know, California has a law for the length of a pocket knife that can be carried as long as it is concealed. Most folding pocket knives comes with a pocket clip that will obviously reveal the knife to the public, would this be considered no longer "concealed" and against the law?

2 Answers

  • John S
    Lv 7
    5 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Actually, the ONLY knife state law regulates by length is a switchblade.

    Smartypants is close, and probably could not anticipate a ruling by the California Supreme Court. Under that case (People v. Rubalcava) EVERY fixed-blade knife (of any length) is a dirk or dagger. It is illegal to carry any fixed-blade knife concealed on your person. "Your person" does not include backpacks, etc.

    The only folding knife which is regulated by state law is switchblade. Other than rules on where they can be possessed (e.g., not on school grounds), the state has no folding knife regulations. The switchblade laws are complicated. A switchblade knife is defined as a knife that looks like a pocketknife and has a blade that can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or any other mechanism. Spring-blade knives, snap-blade knives, gravity knives and butterfly knives are all considered switchblades under the statute.

    A switchblade knife does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, if the knife has a divot or other mechanism that provides resistance and makes it difficult to open or close the blade quickly. It is permissible for the knife to open with one had, so long as the resistance is there.

    To add to the confusion, many cities have their own local regulations, which can conflict with the state law. For example, many cities prohibit the OPEN carrying of dirks or daggers--and since state law prohibits carrying them concealed there is no lawful was to carry them except in a backpack, etc. (Personally, I think that the local laws are unenforceable due to this conflict.)

    Source(s): 40 years as a criminal defense attorney
  • 5 years ago

    I've heard lots of things, and I'm confused. So I looked it up.

    It's actually a little confusing.

    'Dirks and 'daggers' can't be carried concealed. That is, non-folding knives that could cause serious injury. Length isn't specified, or style. But you can carry a dagger, or even a sword, on your belt, that's fine. This might be why Buck knives and other large knives always come with a belt holder of some kind.

    Any kind of folding knife is okay since it can't be used immediately, it has to be opened (like that makes a difference!) Except . . .

    'Switchblades' are illegal, or any knife that opens by itself or by gravity, with a blade longer than 2.5". I once heard this category described as 'any folding knife that takes only one hand to open'. I have a Gerber knife that has a lock to keep the blade closed. There's a button that unlocks it. If I hold it in my hand with the button pressed, the blade swings totally free and I can open it with a flick of the wrist (and I've practiced this, just for fun). According to this law, this knife is illegal! It's okay to have a button that locks the knife closed, but it still needs the other hand to open it.

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