California has a reputation for having some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. The intensity of the laws combined with the legal consequences if you’re caught breaking any of the laws while carrying a firearm has prompted many people to leave their firearms at home and explore other means of self-protection while they are out and about.
A desire to stay out of jail and also have a means of self-protection at their fingertips has prompted many people to wonder if they can legally carry a knife in California?
If you’re considering carrying a knife, the first thing you should know is that California lawmakers have already divided knives into three different categories. These categories are:
• Knives that you can carry as either an open carry or concealed weapon
• Knives that you’re only allowed to open carry
The general rule of thumb is that if you’re carrying a folding knife, you can openly carry or carry it concealed it provided it’s in the folded position. The blade length isn’t an issue. The only exception to this is switchblades.
Dirk and dagger-style knives fall into the category of knives that you’re allowed to openly carry but not carry concealed. These have blades that are fixed to the handle. They can’t be folded. The law surrounding open carry of dirks and daggers is that if you do have one on your person, it must be properly sheathed.
There are three types of knives you’re not allowed to legally carry (or even own) in California. These knives are:
• Switchblade knives
• Ballistic knives
Exactly how much trouble you’ll get in for illegally carrying a knife depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. For example, you’re not allowed to legally carry a switchblade knife in California. If you’re caught with one, you’ll be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, the maximum sentence includes six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However, if you were carrying the switchblade while also committing a crime or if you actually threatened someone with the switchblade additional charges will be filed against you and the eventual sentence will be considerably more severe.
In addition to gaining a criminal record and potentially paying a hefty fine and/or spending time in jail, you’ll also have to forfeit the switchblade knife. Since you can’t legally own the knife in California, the court does not have to return it to you.