Information Regarding Knife Laws
We try and keep our understanding of the laws up-to-date and accurate. However, you should always check multiple sources and not take any one site’s word on what laws are currently in place.
Aside from the Switchblade Act of 1958 and a prohibition against ballistic knives, the federal government doesn’t control which knives a person can and cannot control. Such power is reserved for the states, and their laws can vary quite a bit. Also, be aware that many states outlaw people with certain convictions from owning knives deemed dangerous. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, it may be possible to restore your rights to own firearms, knives, and other weapons if you retain a knowledgable lawyer, but this site will not give out recommendations or legal advice in such matters. Best to do your own due diligence and seek professional assistance.
Help! The Police are After Me!
Okay, calm down. If you find that a cop is very interested in your knife (even if it’s perfectly legal) or find yourself facing criminal charges, there are a few things you can do. We’ll start from the beginning.
If a cop stops you:
- Know your rights and remind the officer, kindly, that you don’t intend to speak to him/her or offer any information other than your name. DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE! They don’t need to know where you’re going or what you’re doing and you aren’t obligated to answer. Don’t worry about looking suspicious; courts know that you have rights and that the Founders intended for you to exercise them.
- An officer can pat you down if they suspect a weapon, but they cannot search you, your belongings, your car, or any other property without a warrant. In order to get a warrant, officers have to show a judge that they suspect in all likelihood that you’ve committed a crime, what crime that is, and specifically where they believe they’ll find the evidence. This isn’t probable cause, but it’s more than a hunch. They cannot get a warrant to blanket search your property. If they search against your will, any evidence they gather will be thrown out of court because they didn’t get a warrant.
- Don’t run, obstruct, lie, or do anything stupid. Some cops are more trigger-happy than others, and all cops will arrest you if you if you make trouble for them.
If you’re arrested:
- Continue to exercise that right to silence. Don’t sign anything, say anything, or do anything without consulting a lawyer.
- On that note, if your first call isn’t to a lawyer but to a family member you trust to retain a lawyer for you, produce bail, or some other thing, remember that police can and do listen in on calls. They can’t do that if you’re talking to an attorney, but if you get in touch with anyone else, keep in mind that they’ll be eavesdropping.
Remember that in order to be convicted of a crime, a prosecutor will have to convince a jury of your peers that you, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, that you committed a crime.
Absolutely Don't Do These Things!
This will feel redundant, but it’s important to reiterate a few things. Namely, instead of saying what you should do, I will explain what you absolutely, unequivocally shouldn’t do when stopped by police.
- Don’t say you’re carrying a knife for self-defense or anything like that if police ask you what the knife is for. DON’T TALK TO COPS! They like to twist self-defense into ‘intent to harm’ (because to defend yourself, you might have to hurt someone) and will arrest you. This could also eliminate some defenses your attorney could use to get the charges thrown out.
- Don’t waive any rights. If the police want to search you, your car, your home, etc., make them get a warrant. In some states, you have to disclose if you have a knife or other weapon on you if it fits the definition of a dangerous weapon, but other than that, don’t act like you have to cooperate. Cops will try and make you feel like cooperation is key to things going smoothly, but that’s a lie.
- If you’re asked to come in for an interview, don’t! Again, they can’t make you. Refuse to speak to them or say you’re going to consult an attorney.