California has some of the strictest weapons laws in the nation. One of those laws prohibits switchblade knifes, but the law is fairly complex, to the point where sometimes those charged with the crime weren’t even in possession of a switchblade. That is why you should always speak with a Vista criminal lawyer as soon as you have been accused of any weapons charge.
Under the California Penal Code, a switchblade is a device that has the appearance of a pocketknife with a blade two or more inches in length that can be automatically opened by a button, pressure on the handle, a wrist flip or another mechanism. That means the law bans not just the spring-loaded knives most people think of when they imagine a switchblade, but also butterfly knives or even those that are designed to open with a flick of the wrist.
While some knives obviously fit into these descriptions without question, knives that are opened with a thumb stud on the blade or thumb pressure applied to the blade do not qualify as switchblades as long as they have some type of mechanism that provides resistance in opening the blade or that biases the blade to return to its closed position. This means that if you have a particularly well-worn pocket knife that opens at a flick of a wrist, if it was designed to be opened with a thumb stud or by applying pressure on the blade, it is not a switchblade. Sometimes people are wrongly accused of possessing a switchblade because their pocket knife opens so easily. If your Vista defense attorney can show that the knife is simply loose, but not designed to operate in such a way, you may be able to have the charges dropped before they go to court.
It is also important to know that it is only illegal to possess a knife in the passenger or driver’s area of a vehicle, to carry the knife on you, and to sell, offer to sell, loan, or give the knife to someone else. This means that if you have a switchblade knife, you can legally continue to own it as long as you keep it in your house and while moving, you put the item in a box and pack it in the trunk or bed of a truck.
You also must know that the knife you are carrying is considered a switchblade. While it would be difficult to claim that you didn’t know a push-button knife in your pocket is a switchblade, your Vista defense attorney may be able to defend you against the charges if you borrowed a jacket or purse from a friend that had the weapon inside of it and you were unaware of the item being in your pocket. Alternatively, if you purchase a knife from a reputable dealer and believe it is merely a typical folding knife, but it turns out to qualify as a switchblade, you are not guilty of the crime.
If you are convicted of violating a switchblade knife law in California, you can face probation, a fine of $1,000, and/or up to six months in jail. If you knowingly carried a switchblade in a concealed manner though, you could be charged with carrying a concealed dirk or dagger, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Have you been arrested for possession of a switchblade? Vista defense lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Greg Younger