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A Guide to California Knife Laws for LA Residents

Understanding the complexities of California knife laws is crucial for Golden State residents, especially for anyone living in Los Angeles. Knife regulations can vary significantly between states, and even from city to city. Being unaware of the specific legalities can lead to unintended legal issues, including weapon charges. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of current California knife laws, highlighting what is legal, what isn't, and recent updates to help you stay informed and compliant.

Is it Legal to Carry Knives in California?

Navigating knife laws in California can be challenging. It’s very important to know which types of knives are legal to own and carry to avoid running afoul of the law. The legality of carrying knives in California, as well as knife laws in Los Angeles, hinges on several factors, including the type of knife and how it is carried. Here’s a brief breakdown by type of California legal knives: 

Folding Knives

Folding knives are generally legal to own and carry in California as long as they are in the folded position. This category includes automatic knives, push button knives, pocket knives, butterfly knives, box cutters, and other similar tools. It’s essential to remember that while these knives are legal, they must be carried in a manner that does not conceal their true nature when unfolded. The flexibility in carrying these knives makes them popular among many residents, especially since they are useful for many outdoor activities and jobs. 

Fixed Blades (Dirks or Daggers)

Fixed blades, also known as dirks or daggers, are legal to own. However, they must not be carried in a concealed manner. According to California Penal Code 21310, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is prohibited. Therefore, these knives should always be carried openly to remain within legal boundaries. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for compliance with California knife laws.

What Knives Are Illegal in California?

Certain knives are considered illegal in California due to their potential for misuse and the danger they pose. Knowing which knives are prohibited can help residents avoid severe legal consequences. The following factors typically determine the illegality of certain knives. Remember that sometimes the law pertains to the knife itself, but illegal knives can also be categorized as illegal if they are not carried appropriately. 

Concealed Carrying of Dirks or Daggers

Under Penal Code 21310, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger is a criminal offense. This regulation aims to prevent the hidden carrying of potentially dangerous weapons. The law is designed to increase public safety by ensuring such knives are carried openly. 

Presence in Public Buildings or Schools

Bringing knives into public buildings or schools is strictly forbidden. This includes all types of knives, irrespective of their design or intended use. Such restrictions are in place to maintain safe environments in public spaces and educational institutions. 

Knife Length

Certain restrictions are based on the length of the blade. For example, switchblades with blades longer than two inches are illegal under California Penal Code 21510. These length restrictions help regulate the potential danger posed by longer blades.

Types of Illegal Knives

Several types of knives are explicitly illegal in California. These include

  • Automatic Knives

  • Switchblades

  • Push Button Knives

  • Butterfly Knives

  • Throwing Knives

  • Belt buckle knife

  • Air gauge knife

  • Lipstick case knife

  • Ballistic knives 

Residents facing knife charges should consider consulting with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to navigate the legal complexities and potentially contest the charges. Working with a knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance and support through the legal process, especially when it comes to Los Angeles knife laws. 

2024 Updates to California Knife Legislation

Recent legislative updates have impacted California knife laws. The ongoing legal debates about the Second Amendment have influenced more than just firearm regulations. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for compliance and understanding your rights.

For instance, California's restrictions on butterfly knives have been upheld, although legal challenges continue. This ongoing legal environment requires residents to stay informed about any changes that may affect knife ownership and carrying regulations. 

Common Questions About Knife Legality in California

Given the complexities of California knife laws, it's common to have questions about what is and isn't legal. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help clarify these laws.

Are switchblades legal in California?

No, switchblades with blades longer than two inches are illegal in California under Penal Code 21510. The law is specific about blade length to regulate these potentially dangerous weapons.

What size knife is legal to carry in California? 

In general, folding knives of any blade length are legal to carry as long as they are in the folded position. Fixed blades must be carried openly. These guidelines help ensure the responsible carrying of knives.

Can I carry a knife in my car in California? 

Yes, you can carry a knife in your car, but the same rules apply: folding knives must be folded, and fixed blades must be carried openly, not concealed. Adhering to these rules helps avoid legal issues while carrying knives in your vehicle. 

Work with an Attorney Who Knows California Knife Laws

Understanding California knife laws as well as Los Angeles knife laws is essential to avoid legal complications. Los Angeles residents can benefit significantly from the expertise of a criminal defense attorney who’s well-versed in weapon-related legal matters. An attorney can provide guidance, assist in contesting charges, and ensure compliance with the intricate legal landscape of knife laws in the Golden State. 

If you’re facing weapons charges of any kind, William Kroger is the criminal defense attorney you need. With decades of experience and a 95% success rate in all cases, you’ll be in good hands. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation today. 

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