NY Criminal Defense & Criminal Possession of a Weapon Part I: Switch Blade Knife, Gravity Knife, Pilum Ballistic Knife & Metal Knuckle Knife

The NY criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC are routinely contacted by or represent people charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon as it relates to switch blades and gravity knives. Individuals charged with this crime recognize very quickly that prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx take these matters extremely seriously.

According to Penal Law 265.01(1), a person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree when he possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or “Kung Fu star.

There are many factors that are critically important when analyzing whether or not you have a valid or legitimate defense to this crime. First and foremost, your criminal defense attorney should determine whether or not the search and seizure of your person was valid. Assuming it is, the second issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not the weapon you are alleged to have possessed actually falls within the definition in the penal law relating to that particular type of weapon. The the third issue is whether or not you “knowingly” possessed that weapon. For this particular entry we will address the definition of certain weapons. The other legal matters will be addressed at a later date.

Dealing with the first issue, whether the weapon you possess is the same as that defined in the penal law, we must go right to the applicable statute. Pursuant to Penal Law 265.00 and its various subsections, the following definitions establish the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon:

4. “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.

5. “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.

5-a. “Pilum ballistic knife” means 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.

5-b. “Metal knuckle knife” means a weapon that, when closed, cannot function as a set of metal knuckles, nor as a knife and when open, can function as both a set of metal knuckles as well as a knife.

Having these definitions readily available is so important to your defense. If you are accused of having a gravity knife, but instead of the blade opening with the force of gravity you have to pull it out, then it is probably not a gravity knife. If you are accused of possessing a switchblade, but it is a lock blade type knife then obviously it is not a switch blade. Moreover, if the knife does open with the force of gravity and is in fact a gravity knife, but you are accused of possessing a switchblade knife, then although your possession may be a crime, because you are charged with the wrong type of knife, a criminal defense attorney’s motion to dismiss will be successful unless there is a superseding complaint drafted by the prosecutor.

Although one would think that all criminal defense attorneys make sure that the weapon their client is accused of possessing operates in the manner and fits the description of that particular weapon in the statute, this simple step is not always taken. While there may be a valid reason, confirmation of this fact is critical for the reasons described above. Equally significant, and a matter that will be discussed in the second entry dealing with this issue, is whether or not you “knowingly” possessed the weapon assuming it is in fact a weapon as described in Penal Law 265.00.

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