Pocket Knife Restrictions in NYC

By Mary Jane Freeman
Pocket knife on a wood table.

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A pocket knife has a blade that folds into the handle, making it easy to carry in the owner's pocket. Under New York law, certain types of pocket knives are legal -- and you can carry these in New York City. However, the city does place restrictions on how long your pocket knife can be and whether you can openly display it in public, such as on a belt clip.

Illegal Pocket Knives

New York City follows state laws, so some types of pocket knives are illegal to possess in the city as well as throughout the state. Switchblades and gravity knives are two common examples. State law defines a switchblade as any knife with a blade that opens automatically by applying pressure to a button, spring or other device on the handle. A gravity knife is any knife with a blade that's released by the force of either gravity or centrifuge, such as by flicking it open, and that stays open.

Illegal Knife Lengths

Under New York City's administrative code, you cannot possess a knife with a blade that is 4 inches long or longer. This means that even if you possess a pocket knife that is legal under state laws, it could still be illegal in New York City if the blade is too long. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if a chef is transporting such a knife to her place of employment. New York City also prohibits knives from being openly displayed in public unless they are being used for a lawful purpose, such as if a Boy Scout is participating in scout activities.

Jail and Fines

If you possess an illegal pocket knife in New York City, you may be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. A violation of the city's limits on blade length or open display law is punishable by up to 15 days in jail, a fine of up to $300, or both.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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