June 21, 2022 By Paul Wallin

Can I Carry a Knife in California? 

The laws regarding possessing and carrying knives in California can be complicated. Although carrying a knife is not always illegal, carrying a weapon of any kind can increase your chances of trouble with law enforcement. Even if you are ultimately found to be acting within a legal context, you may still face the inconvenience of getting arrested, missing work, and paying any related fees. If you are planning to possess or carry certain types of knives, it is crucial to understand the laws surrounding them in order to avoid any criminal charges. 

Firstly, it is important to know which kinds of knives are legal to possess. California law considers certain knives to be dangerous weapons; these knives are illegal to own, sell, or manufacture. In general, illegal knives are those that are undetectable or misleading because they do not obviously look like knives and are commonly used to commit crimes. Knives that are illegal to possess in California include ballistic knives, cane knives, air gauge knives, lipstick knives, belt buckle knives, writing pen knives, switchblades with a blade of two inches or longer, and undetectable knives made from materials that cannot be detected by metal detectors. 

Even when some knives are legal to possess, there may be laws regulating how and if they can be carried openly. In general, folding knives can be carried openly or in a concealed position as long as they are in a closed position. California Penal Code Section 17235 defines a folding knife as a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade. These permissible knives include swiss army knives and pocket knives. 

On the other hand, some types of knives must be carried openly under California Penal Code Section 21310. This means that they cannot be concealed in a pocket, purse, backpack, or other container while in public. Rather, they may only be carried in a sheath worn on the carrier’s waist. The knives that are covered by this “open carry” law are called “dirks and daggers,” which include knives with fixed blades, stiletto knives, or even chef’s knives. Dirks and daggers must follow this special regulation because they can be readily used as a stabbing weapon and have the capacity to inflict great bodily injury or death. As such, the law tries to prevent surprise attacks by ensuring that anyone in close proximity to the knife carrier can clearly see the weapon. 

Penalties for Illegally Carrying a Knife 

Failing to comply with the aforementioned laws could lead to serious consequences. If you are caught in possessing, selling, or manufacturing a prohibited knife, the prosecution may charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor, you may face: 

  • Up to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 6 months or 1 year in county jail 

When charged as a more serious felony, you may face:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines 
  • 16 months to 3 years in county jail 

Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger can also be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor charge is punishable by:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 1 year in county jail 

A felony charge is punishable by:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines 
  • 16 months to 3 years in county jail 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

Possessing an illegal knife or carrying a concealed weapon can hold hefty fines and jail time. If you are arrested for a knife crime, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to avoid prosecution. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in weapons-related offenses, and we have the skills and resources to secure a successful outcome for you. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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