California’s knife laws have the right to be confusing and sometimes inconsistent. If you arrangement to very own or bring certain types of knives, a much better understanding that the laws can help you to prevent the aggravation and cost of a tools charge.

You have to keep in mind, however, that carrying a knife or weapon of any kind of kind rises your likelihood of unpleasant encounters with regulation enforcement. The is not uncommon for regulation enforcement officers to incorrectly make weapons-related arrests when a regulation hasn’t been broken; and also even if you space able to stop a conviction, you space still topic to the hassle of lacking work and also paying any related fees.

If you have actually been charged v a knife-related crime, a skilled attorney that understands the ins and also outs that California’s knife laws deserve to assess your case and find the ideal defense strategy for you.

Table that Contents
What varieties of knives room legal to bring in California?Specific codes and restrictionsCalifornia knife laws, offenses, and penalties

What types of knives room legal to carry in California?


There space two important factors when it concerns possessing and also carrying velvet in California: (1) whether the form of knife is legal or minimal and (2) the open bring law. In California, the is legal to buy, own, transport, and carry any knife the is not restricted.

The three many common species of velvet — switchblades, urgently knives, and fixed blade velvet (also well-known as dirks and daggers) — have particular rules surrounding them and also are defined in more detail below. The open carry law says that the hilt or take care of of a knife cannot be hidden (or concealed), also by clothing or the knife’s sheath. This law exists together a method to ensure that anyone about the human carrying the knife can plainly see it in order to stop surprise attacks.


A switchblade (which may be known by countless other names including a “pushbutton knife” or “ejector knife”) has a tongue which is had within the handle and also is opened instantly by a spring by pushing a button or move on the handle. Switchblades with knives longer 보다 2” are illegal to lug in California.

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Folding knives

Folding knives space knives that are opened by applying pressure come the blade(s) the the knife and also have a mechanism that provides resistance in opened the blade. This includes a “pocketknife” or “Swiss military knife,” box cutter, or “utility knife.” follow to California Penal Code ar 17235, all folding knives are legal in the state and also may be concealed as long as they space in the folded position. Over there is also no border on the blade size of a urgently knife.

Fixed blade velvet (dirks and also daggers)

A solved blade knife is one there is no a urgent mechanism. A kitchen knife is a common example. Ice picks and also other objects may additionally be included in this category. In terms of California law, the words “dirk” and “dagger” average the exact same thing: a knife that can be readily used as a stabbing weapon. In California, Dirks and also daggers and also other sheath knives need to be lugged openly and cannot be concealed.

What varieties of knives space illegal to bring in California?

In California, details knives are illegal to carry, an especially if they room misleading or undetectable. In general, velvet that room illegal space those which are most typically used come commit crimes and also do not have an noticeable use as a tool or look choose knives.

Knives that are illegal to own in California include:

Cane knivesAir gauge knivesLipstick knivesBet buckle knivesWriting pen knivesSwitchblades through a blade longer than 2”Ballistic knives

It is no illegal to lug dirks and also daggers as long as castle are carried openly. Return they might not be carried in a briefcase, purse, or other container, they might be brought openly in a sheath worn ~ above the waist.

Specific codes and also restrictions

In addition to laws pertaining to particular kinds of knives, there space also specific restrictions on moving knives right into public buildings, properties own by the us government, and schools.

Knives in public buildings – penal password 171b PC

According to Penal code 171b, particular knives room illegal to have in your possession when you are in a state or neighborhood public building. This illegal knives are:

SwitchbladesA addressed blade knife with a blade longer than 4”Any knife limited in the state the California (listed above)

Restrictions on velvet in California schools

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Under Penal password 626.10(a)(1) and (2), it is illegal to have specific knives in her possession top top the following California college premises:

California State UniversityUniversity that CaliforniaAny private universityCalifornia neighborhood CollegesAny school that instructs qualities K-12

Knives that space prohibited on this premises are:

Dirks and daggersKnives with knives longer than 2 ½” urgently knives v locking bladesIce picksRazors through unguarded bladesRazor knives or box cutters

Possession of any kind of of these minimal knives top top the above provided school grounds may an outcome in a misdemeanor or felony charge and also 1-3 year in a county jail. Charges and penalties because that knife-related crimes are questioned in much more detail below.

Switchblades on commonwealth property

Whereas most of the crime committed in the state the California are punished under California law, crime committed on commonwealth properties space punished under commonwealth law. The federal switchblade law—15 USC 1241-44—makes it illegal to possess a switchblade on commonwealth lands or properties or to move a switchblade in federal government commerce. Exceptions to this regulation are made for energetic duty members the the equipped forces or persons with just one arm moving a switchblade through a blade the is 3 inches or shorter in length.

California knife laws, offenses, and also penalties

Violation of California’s knife carrying regulations may result in misdemeanor or felony charges and, if convicted, may result in 1-3 year in a ar jail or state prison. If you use a knife as a weapon, you may be sentenced to much more jail time in enhancement to the time served for illegally transferring a knife. Laws and penalties vary depending upon the type of knife, even if it is or no it is restricted, and whether or no it is legal to conceal it.

Concealed dirk and also dagger laws

Penal password 21310 provides it illegal to lug a surprise dirk or dagger, including knives hidden by clothing (e.g. Tucked right into a waistband). In California, moving a surprise dirk or dagger is a “wobbler” offense. A wobbler offense is one the the prosecutor can decide to fee as one of two people a misdemeanor or a felony.

Potential penalty for transferring a covert dirk the dagger include:

Up come 1 year in county jail and/or approximately a $1,000 fine because that a misdemeanor16 months to 3 years in ar jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine because that a felony

Restricted knife laws

Under California Penal password 21510, possession that a switchblade is a misdemeanor and also its penalties space up to 6 months in county jail and/or as much as a $1,000 fine. Penalties may vary because that the possession the other limited knives. Part other possible charges and penalties include:

Possession, sale, manufacture, or import of an undetectable knife: approximately 1 year in county jail and/or a fine approximately $1,000Possession, sale, manufacture, or income of another form of banned knife (a wobbler charge): approximately 1 year in county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor; 16 months to 3 years in ar jail and/or approximately a $10,000 fine.

Brandishing a weapon

California Penal password 417, otherwise known as the “brandishing a weapon” law makes the illegal to brandish a knife in a manner the is threatening, angry, or aggressive, or to brandish a knife throughout a fight. Brandishing a knife is an additional charge that can be added to other knife-related offenses. A fee of brandishing a weapon could include additional penalties ranging from 30 days in county jail to 3 years in California state prison.

Assault with a deadly weapon

California Penal password 245(a)(1), otherwise recognized as the “assault through a deadly weapon” legislation denotes an offense that may be included to various other knife-related offenses. ADW method that an assault was committed with a deadly weapon or some other way of fatal force. Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense v a preferably sentence that 4 year in California state prison for a felony conviction.

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Sentencing improvement for usage of a fatal weapon

Penal password 12022 pc states that you might receive a sentencing improvement of 1 year in state jail in enhancement to the punish you space sentenced to for illegal possession of a knife. This sentencing enhancement cannot be included to penalties for brandishing a weapon or attack with a deadly weapon.