What are the knife laws in New York? All You Need to Know (2023)

Knives are useful tools in many situations. For example, it is common for people working in various industries such as construction, electrical work, shipping, and other sectors to carry small utility knives for work. In addition, some people carry knives for personal protection due to the high crime rate throughout New York City, but it is essential for anyone who intends to carry a knife on their person to understand New York’s laws regarding knives and bladed weapons.

New York law is quite strict regarding knives, prohibiting anyone from carrying a knife that others can readily see. This means that if a knife’s handle protrudes from a pocket or belt loop, the knife owner will violate New York law. Therefore, if you intend to carry a knife in New York for any reason, it is vital to keep concealment in mind and ensure your knife does not violate state laws.

What Are the Penalties for Illegal Possession of a Knife in New York?

It’s possible to face criminal conviction for possession of a knife. This can include either illegal possession of a knife with unlawful intent or carrying an illegal type of knife. While illegal knife possession may only lead to a misdemeanor charge, the penalty can include up to one year in county jail. Additionally, prosecutors in New York City tend to pursue convictions for weapons-related charges quite aggressively.

What are the knife laws in New York? All You Need to Know (1)


The team at the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, fields many questions from clients and prospective clients facing knife-related weapons charges in New York. Below are some of the most common questions we hear from individuals in this situation. Review these questions and our answers to learn a bit more about the knife laws of New York.

Q: What Size Knife Is Legal to Carry in New York?

A: New York law prohibits anyone from carrying a knife with a four-inch or longer blade. If you intend to carry a knife on your person for any reason, you must ensure the blade is shorter than four inches. Suppose police discover it, or you are reported for carrying the knife visibly, and it is discovered to have a blade four inches or longer. In that case, you could face significant criminal penalties.

Q: What Kind of Knives Are Legal to Carry in New York?

A: Along with New York’s blade length law, the state also prohibits anyone from carrying certain types of knives. If your knife has a fixed blade less than four inches long, it is perfectly legal to carry it in New York. However, if the knife is a folding knife, balisong or “butterfly knife,” a “gravity knife,” or any form of pilum ballistic, it is illegal to possess on your person in New York.

Q: Can I Be Arrested for Carrying a Knife in New York?

A: It is possible to face criminal charges for carrying a knife under certain circumstances. First, carrying a knife that others can see is a crime in New York that qualifies for a misdemeanor charge. Second, if the accused has a criminal record, the prosecutor handling their case may bump the charge to a low-level felony. Third, possessing a knife while committing another crime can also increase penalties.

Q: What Happens If I Use an Illegal Knife in Self-Defense?

A: While you are legally permitted to carry a knife and use it in self-defense if you have no choice to prevent serious bodily harm or death from another person, if you have an illegal knife and use it in self-defense, you will likely face criminal charges for illegal knife possession. While using lethal force in self-defense is legal in New York City when retreat is not an option, using an illegal knife will leave you vulnerable to criminal penalties.

Q: What Criminal Charges Can Be Aggravated by Knife Possession?

A: It’s important to understand that carrying a knife or brandishing it in certain situations can qualify for serious criminal charges. For example, carrying an illegal knife by itself is a criminal offense, but if you were to brandish the knife, you could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, even if you do not use the knife at all.

Hopefully, these answers will help you understand New York City’s knife laws in greater detail. If you or a loved one are faced with weapons charges for illegal carrying of a knife or carrying an illegal knife, it’s essential to know the value of having an experienced attorney on your side.

How Can a Defense Attorney Help Me Fight a Criminal Charge Related to a Knife?

Any weapons-related criminal offense in New York could carry significant penalties, including one or more years in jail, fines, and restitution to the victim if anyone were harmed with the knife. Therefore, if you have been charged with violating the knife laws of New York City, it is essential to secure legal representation as soon as possible.

Your defense attorney can help you determine the best defenses available to you, potentially helping you mitigate your sentence or avoid conviction entirely. The prosecution has the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in any criminal case, and they must meet strict standards when it comes to the evidence they may present in court. Therefore, your defense attorney will carefully examine the prosecution’s case, look for any inconsistencies or discrepancies that may work in your favor, and help you gather any evidence that may support your defense.

The Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, has cultivated a strong reputation as one of the leading criminal defense firms in New York City. Our team has successfully represented many past clients in very complex criminal cases, helping many secure acquittals and others obtain reduced sentences. Whatever your knife case entails, we can help you determine the best legal options available to you. Contact us today for more information about the criminal defense services we can provide and how we can empower your defense when facing knife-related charges in New York City.


What are the knife laws in New York? All You Need to Know? ›

New York City law prohibits carrying a knife that can be seen in public, including wearing a knife outside of your clothing. This applies to all knives, even if the blade is not exposed. When any portion of the knife is visible, such as the clip, hinge or top, this is considered in public view.

What knives are legal to carry in NY? ›

If your knife has a fixed blade less than four inches long, it is perfectly legal to carry it in New York. However, if the knife is a folding knife, balisong or “butterfly knife,” a “gravity knife,” or any form of pilum ballistic, it is illegal to possess on your person in New York.

What size knife is legal to carry in NY? ›

What Is The Legal Size Of A Knife in NYC? While there is no size restriction in the state, AC 10-133 makes it illegal to carry a knife with a blade that is four inches or longer.

Can a 16 year old carry a knife in NY? ›

Under the New York State law, it is illegal for a person below the age of 16 to carry a “dangerous knife.” Knives such as stiletto, dagger, machete, dirk, or any other deadly tool with an intent for an unlawful use fall under the category of “dangerous knife.”

Can you open carry a sword in New York? ›

Still, swords are legal to carry if they are being used in historical demonstrations or ceremonies in which the sword is "significant to the performance of the ceremony." In New York, possession of a cane sword is a misdemeanor, but it can become a felony if it is a sword-carrier's second or third offense.

What knives are legal to carry around? ›

This includes a “pocketknife” or “Swiss army knife,” box cutter, or “utility knife.” According to California Penal Code Section 17235, all folding knives are legal in the state and may be concealed as long as they are in the folded position. There is also no restriction on the blade length of a folding knife.

Are brass knuckles illegal in NY? ›

The 21 states where brass knuckles are illegal are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington.

What self-defense weapons are legal in NY? ›

That's why it's important to do your research before purchasing any weapon for self-defense purposes. In New York City, some of the best legal self-defense weapons include pepper spray, tasers, stun guns, personal alarms, and knives.

Can I carry a 4 inch pocket knife? ›

Types of Knives You Can Typically Legally Carry

Knives that are usually legal to carry almost anywhere include multi-tool devices, Swiss Army knives, and utility knives, and knives with blades that are shorter than 2.5 inches.

Can you use a knife in self-defense? ›


Some people who are not willing to carry a gun will carry a knife thinking it a less legally-serious option. While it may fit different carry laws, using a knife in self-defense is still generally considered lethal force in the same way deploying a firearm is considered lethal force.

What size knife is legal to carry in NY Reddit? ›

The blade length must be under 4 inches.

3.99 inches and under.)

What is a dirk knife? ›

A dirk is classically a large, single-bladed knife with a blade anywhere from 12 inches all the way up to 20 inches. Naval dirks were commonly used for ship-to-ship fighting as they were short enough to be used in tight confines yet large enough to still be effective.

Can you carry a box cutter in NYC? ›

In New York City, you may carry a concealed knife with a blade less than four inches long in most public places. Note, however, that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) broadly forbids possession of weapons including gravity knives and box cutters on NYC subways and buses (21 NYCRR 1050.8a).

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