Criminal Possession of a Knife in New York
New York City is known for its strict gun laws, but it may be surprising to learn that N.Y. Penal Law 265.01 — the same law that applies to illegal possession of handguns — also applies to other illegal weapons, including certain knives and other items that can be legally purchased in stores or online.
Possession of several types of knives is illegal in New York City. Criminal possession of an outlawed knife is considered Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree under state law. A violation of this law is a Class A misdemeanor in New York and usually applies to first-time offenders.
Penalties for a conviction of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, as well as the confiscation and subsequent destruction of the weapon by law enforcement.
New York City has additional laws regarding knives, which make possession of any knife with a blade longer than four inches illegal, with exceptions for certain “lawful purposes.” Possession of an illegal knife under Section 10-133 of the city code may result in up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. Police have the discretion to file either state or local charges related to illegal possession of a knife.
Attorney for Fourth Degree Criminal Knife Possession in Manhattan
If you were arrested for Fourth-Degree Criminal Possession of a Knife under N.Y. P.L. 265.01 or Section 10-133 of the city code in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs of New York City, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to assist you with the legal process. A qualified attorney will be able to explain the charge and help you find the best possible resolution to your situation.
At Greco Neyland, PC, when we represent people arrested on criminal weapons charges, we take the time to understand each client’s situation in order to find the best course of action. We may be able to obtain and present evidence for a reduction or dismissal of charges
With Greco Neyland, PC as your advocate, you will have former prosecutors fighting on your behalf, so we know how the process works. We use our knowledge of criminal legal procedure to put our clients in the best possible position going forward. We represent clients in Manhattan (New York County), Brooklyn (Kings County), The Bronx, and the other boroughs of New York City. Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation.
Information about Criminal Possession of a Knife in New York City
- Types of Criminal Possession of a Knife in the Fourth Degree
- Definitions of Terms Related to Criminal Possession of a Knife
- Elements of Criminal Possession of a Knife in the Fourth Degree Charges
- Penalties for Criminal Possession of a Knife in the Fourth Degree
- Possession of a Knife under New York City Administrative Code Title 10-133
- Resources Related to Criminal Possession of a Knife in the Fourth Degree
Unlike guns, no license is needed to carry a knife or other weapon in public. However, knives of all sizes may be considered weapons under certain circumstances, and under state law, possession of certain types of knives is illegal.
New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.01 states that a person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (also known as CPW 4) when that person “knowingly possesses any”:
- Gravity knife
- Switchblade knife
- Pilum ballistic knife
- Metal knuckle knife
- Cane sword
- Electronic dart gun
- Electronic stun gun
- Billy (billy club)
- Plastic knuckles
- Metal knuckles
- Chuka stick
- Sand bag
- Wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot
- Kung Fu star
The above list provides examples of what are legally known as “per se” weapons, or weapons by, of, or in themselves.
A 2014 story in New York’s Village Voice detailed how as many as 60,000 gravity-knife prosecutions occurred over the previous decade in New York City, based on the publication’s research.
Under the law, “possess” means to have physical possession or otherwise to exercise dominion or control over tangible property (N.Y. P.L. Part 1, Title A, Article 10.00(8)).
Possession may be “actual” or “constructive.” Actual possession occurs when the police discover a weapon on a person or his or her belongings and no one else has equal access to it. Constructive possession occurs when more than one person has access to a weapon, such as a weapon in a drawer or glove box of a vehicle when more than one person has access to it.
Another important word in the statute is “knowingly.” Under N.Y. P.L. Part 1, Title B, Article 15.05(2), a person knowingly possesses a firearm when that person is “aware” that he or she is in possession of a firearm.
A gravity knife means “any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.” (N.Y. P.L. 265.00(5)).
A switchblade knife means “any knife which has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.” (N.Y. P.L. 265.00(4)).
A pilum ballistic knife “any knife which has a blade which can be projected from the handle by hand pressure applied to a button, lever, spring or other device in the handle of the knife.” (N.Y. P.L. 265.00(5)(a)).
A metal knuckle knife means “a weapon that, when closed, cannot function as a set of plastic knuckles or metal knuckles, nor as a knife and when open, can function as both a set of metal knuckles as well as a knife.” (N.Y. P.L. 265.00(5)(b)).
It is illegal to own a gravity knife, switchblade, pilum ballistic knife, cane sword, or metal knuckle knife in New York. It is legal to possess a switchblade or gravity knife, while hunting, trapping, or fishing with a valid hunting and/or fishing license.
In order for a defendant to found guilty of a charge of Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a judge or jury must find that a person, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Possessed a weapon on or about a certain date in a specific county; and
- Knowingly possessed a weapon on or about a certain date in a specific county
Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a Class A Misdemeanor in New York. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable upon conviction by:
- Up to one year in jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000
The firearm will also be confiscated by the police upon arrest and destroyed after a conviction.
In addition to New York State law, New York City has its own laws related to possession of weapons. Possession of a Knife under New York City Administrative Code Title 10-133 is 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; or
- 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
Lawful purposes include use by military, police, or emergency workers or when a knife:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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.
Violation of this section of the city code is offense punishable by up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $300.
New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.01 — Read the New York State law pertaining to criminal possession of a handgun in the fourth degree.
New York City Administrative Code, Title 10-133C — Read the section of the New York City Administrative Code that addresses illegal possession of a knife in public. Find the legislative findings that declare the possession of large knives a menace to public health and safety. The legislative findings note the connection between possession of large knives and the commission of homicides, robberies, and assaults in New York City.
Jury Instructions for Criminal Possession of a Knife — Visit the website of the NewYork State Unified Court System to find the standard criminal jury instructions (CJI) for criminal possession of a weapon, including a knife, in the fourth degree under Penal Law 265.01(2) for offenses committed on or after November 1, 1988.
Attorney for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in New York City – Greco Neyland, PC
If you were arrested in New York City for Criminal Possession of a Knife or other Weapon in the Fourth Degree under N.Y. P.L. § 265.01(1), you may need a lawyer to assist you in fighting the charges.
The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC are experienced in defending charges of criminal possession of a knife and will work with you from the start in an effort to maintain your freedom.
We serve clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Contact the dedicated lawyers at Greco Neyland, PC today by calling (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation about your knife possession charge.