A gravity knife is a type of knife in which the blade is contained in the handle and only becomes exposed through the force of inertia or gravity. Gravity knives typically differ from switchblade knives in that the latter usually relies on some kind of button or switch to release the blade.
Despite the fact that many people in New York own gravity knives for decidedly non-criminal purposes such as opening boxes or assistance with manual labor tasks, both gravity knives and switchblades are considered weapons in New York. Police officers in New York City are especially more likely to arrest people for possession of gravity knives, and crimes that would ordinarily be misdemeanors can be upgraded to felonies when the alleged offender has a prior criminal record.
Attorney for Gravity Knives Arrests in Queens, NY
Were you arrested or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for allegedly possessing a gravity knife in New York City? Do not say anything to authorities until you have legal counsel. Law Office can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Rochelle S. Berliner is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Queens who represents individuals accused of weapons crimes in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and many surrounding areas of New York City. Call Law Office today to have our attorney provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Gravity Knives Crimes in New York
- What is technically considered a gravity knife in New York?
- What kinds of punishments can an alleged offender receive if convicted?
- Where can I find more information about gravity knives in Queens?
New York Penal Law § 265.00(5) defines a gravity knife as “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.” A switchblade knife is defined under New York Penal Law § 265.00(4) as “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.”
For many years, gravity knives could be legally purchased at the local Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or other department store or hardware store despite the state law originally passed in 1958 that classified a gravity knife as a weapon. Many common pocketknives used as work tools by construction workers, chefs, or handymen can be considered gravity knives by authorities.
In many cases, police officers have to try multiple times in order to get supposed gravity knives to open and/or to get blades to lock into place. Many alleged offenders are stunned to learn that the pocketknives they thought they legally purchased were even considered gravity knives, much less against the law.
New York Penal Law § 265.20 does provide a couple of exemptions for gravity knives. Weapon possession crimes do not apply to:
- Possession of a gravity knife by a warden, superintendent, headkeeper or deputy of a state prison, penitentiary, workhouse, county jail or other institution for the detention of persons convicted or accused of crime or detained as witnesses in criminal cases, in pursuit of official duty or when duly authorized by regulation or order to possess the same; and
- Possession of a switchblade or gravity knife for use while hunting, trapping or fishing by a person carrying a valid license issued to him pursuant to section 11-0713 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
A person can be charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree when he or she possesses any gravity knife, regardless of whether there was any intent to use it unlawfully. Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree is classified as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
If an alleged offender has previously been convicted of any kind of criminal offense, possession of a gravity knife gets bumped up to Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree. Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
New York’s Outdated Knife Law — On May 31, 2016, the New York Times published this editorial calling for the state to change its current gravity knife law. As the editorial notes, gravity knives accounted for more than two-thirds of the 70,000 arrests between 2000 and 2012 based on alleged violations of state weapons law. The Times also points out that only four of the 254 people charged with gravity knife possession in the second half of 2015 were charged with intent to use the knives unlawfully.
New York State Senate Bill S6483A — View the full text of legislation that would have revised the definitions of a switchblade knife and a gravity knife. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed the legislation on December 31, 2016. Despite passing the Assembly and Senate with overwhelming majorities, this bill was opposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and all of New York's district attorneys.
Law Office | Queens Gravity Knives Defense Lawyer
If you were issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) or arrested in New York City for alleged possession of a gravity knife, it will be in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Law Office can challenge how prosecutors define these knives and work to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties.
Queens criminal defense attorney Rochelle S. Berliner aggressively defends clients throughout New York City, including communities in Bronx County, Kings County, New York County, and Queens County. She can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call or complete an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation.
- Weapons Charges