Can You Get Arrested for Carrying a Pocket Knife: Getting the Point Across

Handling your personal safety needs can seem a little overwhelming when you are just beginning to learn about emergency preparedness. The best advice there is for prepping is, stay calm. This applies to get caught as well. Emergency situations are intense enough without adding stress unnecessarily. The second best piece of advice is when in doubt check it out. This is never truer than when dealing with weapons.

Can you get arrested for carrying a pocket knife? No one wants to hear they can be arrested for staying safe. In short, yes. You might get arrested for carrying a pocket knife. Even a really small one. Always check your local laws.

When and Where Can You Carry a Pocket Knife

A little bit of foreknowledge can save you a great deal of trouble. Remember to check the local laws and regulations of carrying weapons of any kind. You may be surprised to learn that standards vary wildly. You will see different laws by the city, state or country. Sadly, what works in one location is not universally accepted at another and the consequences can be severe.

No Knives Allowed

There are some places you cannot carry a knife at all for any reason. An extreme example would be the White House. Trying to carry your knife into a heavily secured area is asking for trouble. You most likely won’t ever get it past airport security, or into a federal building. Taking a pocketknife to a school is a special kind of trouble in most places. Going out of your way to try and fight these rules is likely not worth it.

Knife carry gets especially tricky when you are traveling internationally. For example, in the UK you can’t even buy a kitchen knife if you’re under 18. In Germany, you can’t have any sort of folding knife that locks. However, you can carry a short fixed blade knife. One brand that is most popular for every day carry is the Swiss Army pocket knife (Click to get the latest pricing from Amazon).

Pushing the Limits

Practice common sense. You may be incredibly sneaky and love a challenge, however, if you court trouble, you’ll probably find it. Emergency preparedness isn’t about fighting the power, unless ‘the power’ coming after you is the reason there’s an emergency.

If society as we know it collapses, or you are in the middle of some lesser, more personal, calamity, there will probably be enough excitement without going out of your way to try and get in trouble. Know your limits. Survival has plenty of places where your sneaking skills are useful, but save it for when you need it.

No Big Deal

If you’re planning to travel to Bulgaria, which is particularly permissive, you don’t need any reason to carry a knife. There are apparently no laws restricting them. Likewise, many places in the USA are fine with open carry of most knives.

Unless laws have changed significantly, Ohio is one of many places you can bring your blade. Realistically, you do need to tell a police officer you have it if stopped, but that makes sense. Similarly, Kentucky, Idaho, Arizona, and Oregon don’t appear to care much about your blades. Keep in mind all that permissiveness goes right out the window the second you use your knife in a threatening manner.

What Kind of Pocket Knives Can You Get?

Know your knives if you want to avoid trouble. Pocket knives come in a handful of styles. Some knives are more widely accepted than others.

  • Balisong- A balisong or butterfly knife has a handle that folds down on either side of the blade.
  • Multitool- Swiss Army knives are the most well-known multitools. Your multitool is useful for more than just cutting.
  • Traditional- Folding pocket knives with a single locking blade are the most common.
  • Switchblade- A knife with a trigger and a spring that pushes the blade out is a switchblade.

Blade types

  • Serrated- Bread knives have serrated blades. You can get a serrated pocket knife.
  • Straight- A standard sharpened blade is what most knives have.
  • Double-sided- If your blade is sharp on both sides like a dagger it’s a double-sided knife.
  • Combination- In some cases, you’ll find half and half blades. Typically this means serrated near the handle and straight on the tip.

What is the Penalty for Carrying a Pocket Knife?

You probably want to know what will happen. There is no single answer. Naturally, there are different consequences depending on where and how you get caught. If you are holding a bloody knife over a body, it’s not the same as a work tool in your pocket. Penalties range from the mild to the terrifying. Knife violations are handled in many ways.


  • Warning– If you are very lucky you may get a warning. Whether verbal or written, this means there is no long term consequence. Should you be so fortunate, don’t push your luck.
  • Confiscation– Sometimes, the offending weapon might get taken away. Don’t try and argue or fight, this will make it worse. Have the good grace to let the knife go, even if it’s an expensive knife.
  • Citation– Less pleasant, you may get a citation. Often, a ticket means a small fine. Fines can be substantial as well. Whatever the case, when you get ticketed you will probably need to show up in court if only to pay.
  • Arrest– Unfortunately, as mentioned, you can absolutely be arrested for knife possession. Looking suspicious, or arguing with the officer who catches you almost guarantees trouble. If you appear threatening, chances are higher that you’ll be arrested.
  • Court– Get a good lawyer. If you get arrested with a weapon, a court visit is going to happen. Failure to appear will only make it worse. There are courts where you don’t need legal counsel for minor offenses. Not every court will treat your knife like a minor offense.
  • Jail– Sadly, though it’s not common, you can do jail time for knife possession. Typically this happens if you have other charges in conjunction with the knife, or if you have hurt anyone. Even doing property damage with a knife might be enough to get you a short ‘involuntary vacation’.
  • Special Circumstances– In some places, mostly outside the USA, you can suffer special consequences. Public beatings, foreign prison, the possibilities are as extensive as they are frightening. Do yourself a favor and don’t carry a knife if you don’t know the laws

Will This Go On My Permanent Record?

Unfortunately, yes. When you get arrested or ticketed it goes on your record. If you can prove it wasn’t yours, which will be tricky at best, then perhaps a court will excuse you for having it. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pretend you didn’t know you had a weapon on your person.

Most importantly, once you have an arrest record for weapons possession, you’ll find it harder to carry. Learn to assess risk versus reward. Do you live in Compton or the Favelas of Rio De Janeiro Brazil? You might decide it’s worth the risk in that case. Notably, you can’t prepare for disasters very well from jail.

Final Thoughts

Have some common sense and a practical approach. You can probably take your knife most places as an adult. It is vital to weigh your risks. Personal safety is no laughing matter, and you never want to put yourself in a more dangerous position. Fortunately, having good information is the right place to start. Though, in the end, it depends on what you do with it.

You just cannot take your knives in some places. Additionally, US states tend to differentiate between knives. For example, you could get in trouble for a switchblade or gravity knife meanwhile, your swiss army knife is just fine. Likewise, some states consider a balisong/butterfly knife the same as a switchblade, but because not all do you have to be cautious.

In conclusion, you have to make your own choices, and manage the consequences, if you choose to break a law. Fortunately, deciding what your freedom is worth and how to preserve it is entirely up to you. You don’t have to take a risk if you don’t want to. That said, a knife is a solid piece of kit to have around. One knife that is popular, extremely useful and compact is the Army Swiss knife. It’s attachments make it a very desirable survival knife. Click here to get the latest pricing from Amazon.

Additional Questions

How old do you have to be to carry a knife? There’s no age limit to carry a knife under 3 inches long in some parts of the USA. Of course, if you’re not 18 you can’t even buy a knife in lots of places. Alternately, adults can carry wherever it’s legal to do so. Seems like this means 18 or 21 is the answer here, but it can vary, especially with very small blades.

Can I keep a knife in my car? Knife carry laws vary wildly. Certainly, in areas that allow knives, you are most likely going to find that concealment is still an issue. Bizarrely, you’ll find that some places don’t even allow you to take a new purchase home legally, meanwhile, others could not care less if you have a trunk full of weapons as long as you don’t use them. Variability is an issue.

What is a “gravity knife”? Gravity knives are similar to switchblades in some ways. Typically, they have a switch or lever. Whereas a switchblade has a spring, a gravity knife opens by gravity or centripetal force. A flick of your wrist or pointing the blade down will cause it to open fully and the trigger switch locks it in place.

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