New York, NY asked in Criminal Law for New York

Q: Is it ilegal to carry a pocket knife in new York state

Like a fixed blade knife (blade 4in)

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1 Lawyer Answer
Samuel C. Breslin
Samuel C. Breslin
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Albany, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: New York knife laws are very complicated. Some knives are absolutely illegal (including gravity knives, switchblade knives, pilum ballistic knives, metal knuckle knives, and cane swords). Other knives, like what you are describing, are more likely covered by Penal Law 260.15(4) which states that "the possession by any person of any dagger, dirk, stiletto, dangerous knife or any other weapon, instrument, appliance or substance designed, made or adapted for use primarily as a weapon, is presumptive evidence of intent to use the same unlawfully against another." New York's highest court (the Court of Appeals) tried to shed light on what "dangerous knife" means, but it's still murky, since depending on the circumstances, all knives are/can be dangerous. That Court held that a "dangerous knife" is something that “is primarily intended for use as a weapon,” or a common utilitarian utensil “converted into a weapon,” but it also could be a common utilitarian knife unmodified or not designed as a weapon (like a kitchen knife or a 4 inch fixed blade knife), but by reason of the circumstances of possession and/or the “context of activity,” is dangerous. Basically there's no clear answer (except for the clearly-defined prohibited knives). If you're a fisherman and need a 4" fixed-blade for gutting fish, it's not "dangerous," because you're not using it as a weapon. However, if you carry that same knife in a shopping mall for no reason (or for a bad reason, like intimidation), you could be committing a crime! The best bet is to leave it at home.

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