Former Manhattan prosecutors specializing in criminal defense and civil rights in state and federal courts.

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Understanding Knife Violations in New York City

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone LLP || 16-Nov-2010

The New York Penal Law makes it a misdemeanor to carry a variety of sharp weapons, such as gravity knives and switchblades. But even knives that you might not consider to be dangerous weapons can get you in trouble with the police. If you are found carrying a knife prohibited by the New York City Administrative Code (Section 10-133), you will probably receive a pink summons ticket or a Desk Appearance ticket, but you could even get arrested. A violation of this subsection is a violation and not a crime but it can be punishable by up to $300 in fines and/or as much as 15 days in jail.

NYC Administration Code § 10-133 prohibits the possession of the two main types of knives. First, subdivision (b) makes it illegal to carry a knife with a blade length of four inches or more. Obviously, the average chef's knife has a blade that long, as do many folding knives used for hunting or fishing. Fortunately, subdivision (b) does permit you to carry such a knife "to or from a place where it is used for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking or any employment, trade or occupation customarily requiring the use of such knife." In our experience, though, police officers are frequently not persuaded by the explanation that the knife is used at work to open boxes, and will issue a ticket anyway. You can also avoid a conviction for this violation if you can show that the knife "is being transported directly to or from a place of purchase, sharpening or repair, packaged in such a manner as not to allow easy access to such knife while it is transported". So, if you just bought a long kitchen knife from Bed Bath & Beyond, you can safely take it home so long as it remains in the package. There are various other exceptions for the four-inch blade rule that are rarely applied (see below).

But even knives with blades shorter than four inches can still get you in trouble if they are publicly displayed or worn. Subdivision (c) of NYC A.C. § 10-133 makes it illegal "for any person in a public place, street or park, to wear outside of his or her clothing or carry in open view any knife with an exposed or unexposed blade unless such person is actually using such knife for a lawful purpose as set forth in subdivision d of this section." Basically, this means that should not carry your clip-on knife like this person.

If you have any more questions about these issues, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. They routinely represent people in summons matters throughout the city, and have had great success defending people charged with a variety of weapons crimes and violations.

The full text of the statute is below:
New York City Administrative Code Section 10-133

a. Legislative findings. It is hereby declared and found that the possession in public places, streets and parks of the city, of large knives is a menace to the public health, peace, safety and welfare of the people of the city; that the possession in public places, streets and parks of such knives has resulted in the commission of many homicides, robberies, maimings and assaults of and upon the people of the city; that this condition encourages and fosters the commission of crimes, and contributes to juvenile delinquency, youth crime and gangsterism; that unless the possession or carrying in public places, streets and parks of the city of such knives without a lawful purpose is prohibited, there is danger of an increase in crimes of violence and other conditions detrimental to public peace, safety and welfare. It is further declared and found that the wearing or carrying of knives in open view in public places while such knives are not being used for a lawful purpose is unnecessary and threatening to the public and should be prohibited. b. It shall be unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person or have in such person’s possession, in any public place, street, or park any knife which has a blade length of four inches or more. c. It shall be unlawful for any person in a public place, street or park, to wear outside of his or her clothing or carry in open view any knife with an exposed or unexposed blade unless such person is actually using such knife for a lawful purpose as set forth in subdivision d of this section. d. The provisions of subdivisions b and c of this section shall not apply to (1) persons in the military service of the state of New York when duly authorized to carry or display knives pursuant to regulations issued by the chief of staff to the governor; (2) police officers and peace officers as defined in the criminal procedure law; (3) participants in special events when authorized by the police commissioner; (4) persons in the military or other service of the United States, in pursuit of official duty authorized by federal law; (5) emergency medical technicians or voluntary or paid ambulance drivers while engaged in the performance of their duties; or (6) any person displaying or in possession of a knife otherwise in violation of this section when such knife (a) is being used for or transported immediately to or from a place where it is used for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking or any employment, trade or occupation customarily requiring the use of such knife; or (b) is displayed or carried by a member of a theatrical group, drill team, military or para-military unit or veterans organization, to, from, or during a meeting, parade or other performance or practice for such event, which customarily requires the carrying of such knife; or (c) is being transported directly to or from a place of purchase, sharpening or repair, packaged in such a manner as not to allow easy access to such knife while it is transported; or (d) is displayed or carried by a duly enrolled member of the Boy or Girl Scouts of America or a similar organization or society and such display or possession is necessary to participate in the activities of such organization or society. e. Violation of this section shall be an offense punishable by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars or by imprisonment not exceeding fifteen days or by both such fine and imprisonment.

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