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Switchblade knives have a very infamous reputation. These knives are often associated with criminals or gang members due to their portrayal in popular films, television shows and novels. This association may leave you wondering “Is it actually illegal to carry or possess a switchblade in Los Angeles?”
The short answer to this question is “yes”. According to California law, carrying a switchblade on your person or possessing such a knife is strictly illegal. There are no exceptions to this law but there are some details that you should know if you are considering carrying, purchasing or possessing a switchblade in Los Angeles.
Defining the Crime
According to California Penal Code Section 21510-21590, a person who commits any of the following actions may face arrest and criminal prosecution:
What Is A Switchblade?
Most people are familiar with the function and appearance of switchblade knives. However, it’s important to explain the difference between switchblades and standard pocketknives for the purposes of understanding this law.
A switchblade is a knife that can be automatically opened by a mechanism that does not require unfolding or manually opening the blade of the knife. In contrast, a legal pocketknife is a knife which requires manual force or pressure to physically open the knife in order to deploy a blade.
Also, it’s important to note the Penal Code Section 21510-21590 refers to switchblades which have a blade length of two or more inches. Therefore, possessing or carrying a switchblade with a blade that is less than two inches of length may not necessarily lead to criminal prosecution.
In Los Angeles and throughout the state of California, possessing, carrying, selling or giving a switchblade knife to another person is a misdemeanor offense. This means that a person who is convicted of this offense may face:
Examples of the Crime
While it is clear that buying, selling or carrying a switchblade on your person is a criminal offense, what about other circumstances? Consider the following scenario:
David has a friend named Steve. Steve is a passionate collector of antique knives. Steve finds an antique switchblade in a pawn shop and purchases it. On David’s birthday, Steve gives David the antique switchblade as a present. David carries the knife home from the party in his pocket. According to the law, the pawn shop owner who originally sold the knife, Steve and David may all be guilty of a criminal offense because selling, giving or carrying a switchblade are all considered illegal.
While some people may feel that a switchblade offense is not a serious issue, the reality is quite the opposite. This offense can have an impact on your current employment as well as future job searches.
Our law firm will help you build a strong legal defense to fight your charges in court. For example, we may argue that:
If your defense is successful, the charges may be dropped and you could avoid probation and jail time.