Pocket knife laws California

Pocket knife laws California

Pocket knife laws in California are designed to regulate the possession and carrying of knives in public spaces. Understanding these laws is crucial for residents and visitors alike to ensure compliance and avoid legal issues. Here's an overview of key aspects of California's pocket knife laws as of my last update:

Fixed Blade Knives

  • Carrying Concealed: It's illegal to carry a concealed fixed-blade knife in California. A fixed-blade knife must be carried openly in a sheath.
  • Length Restrictions: There are no specific length restrictions for fixed blades when carried openly.

Folding Knives

  • No Concealment Restrictions: Folding knives can be carried concealed as long as they are not opened in a way that locks them into position. Once a folding knife is locked open, it's considered a fixed blade.
  • Switchblades: California law defines a switchblade as a knife with a blade that springs out of the handle automatically or can be released automatically by a button, spring mechanism, or other devices. Carrying a switchblade with a blade length of 2 inches or longer in public is illegal.

Other Restrictions

  • Schools: It's illegal to bring or possess any knife on the premises of any public or private K-12 school without written permission from school officials.
  • Government Buildings: Certain buildings, such as courthouses and government offices, may have their own prohibitions against knives.
  • Intent: Carrying any knife with the intent to use it as a weapon is illegal, regardless of the type or size of the knife.


While California allows the carrying of many types of pocket knives, there are specific rules regarding how and where they can be carried, especially concerning switchblades and fixed-blade knives. The laws aim to balance individual rights with public safety concerns. Always ensure that you are up to date with local laws and regulations, as they can change and may vary by jurisdiction within the state.

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