Without formal legal education, deciphering the law can be pretty tricky, especially regarding knife laws. Is it legal to own a knife in New Jersey? If so, what knife types are legal to own? Also, can knives be carried in public? Stick around to learn all about NJ knife laws.
Lawful Knife Possession in New Jersey
According to the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Contrary to what many may think, the Second Amendment doesn’t just pertain to guns. The word ‘arms’ encompasses knives as well. That being said, the state has no authority to infringe upon a citizen’s right to own or carry a knife, with some exceptions, of course.
In New Jersey, some knife types are legal to own, whereas other types are illegal to possess regardless of any explainable, lawful purpose. You should also note that there are circumstances that constitute whether or not a knife is legal or illegal to carry, as we’re going to explain shortly.
But first, here’s a list of all the knives that you’re allowed to own in New Jersey:
- Bowie knife
- Balisong knife
- Butterfly knife
- Throwing knives
- Throwing stars
- Disguised knives
Unlawful Knife Possession in New Jersey
According to N.J.S. 2C: 39-3, the possession of dirks, daggers, switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, stilettos, and wood-embedded razor blades is illegal. Possession of any of these weapons is considered a crime of the fourth degree. So, if you’re caught with any of these items, you may spend 18 months in prison and receive a $10,000 fine.
Also, you should know that people with certain mental illnesses and people who are convicted of particular crimes aren’t allowed to own a dangerous knife.
Furthermore, it’s illegal to possess any type of knife on school property without written consent from the school. This is a fourth-degree crime, under N.J.S 2C:29-5(e), and is punishable by up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine.
Unlawful Knife Use
In the state of New Jersey, if you use any knife with an unlawful purpose, you can be charged with “Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose” under N.J.S. 2C:39-4. This applies whether the knife is legal or illegal. If you’re charged with this third-degree crime, you may spend 3-5 years in prison and receive a fine of up to $15,000.
Let’s put things into perspective with an example. Let’s assume you have a kitchen knife in your vehicle’s glove box. The presence of the knife in your vehicle’s glove box is legal, and you can’t be charged with possession.
However, if you decide to use the kitchen knife in your glove box to threaten someone or in the course of a burglary, then you may be charged with “Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose.”
What About the Sale of Knives?
Selling knives isn’t illegal in the state of New Jersey. After all, knives can be used for lawful purposes.
However, selling a knife with a blade that’s 5 inches or more or a knife that has a total length of 10 inches or more to an individual under the age of 18 is against the law. This is a fourth-degree crime that’s punishable by up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine, according to N.J.S. 2C:39-9.1.
Moreover, selling a prohibited knife to any individual, regardless of age, is a violation of N.J.S. 2C:39-9(d). This is also a fourth-degree crime that’s punishable by up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine.
What About the Transportation of Knives?
Transporting a legal-to-own knife is acceptable in the state of New Jersey. However, transporting illegal knives, such as dirks, daggers, switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, stilettos, and wood-embedded razor blades, is unlawful.
And if you transport an illegal knife without a license, you can be charged with “Unlawful Transportation of a Prohibited Weapon” under N.J.S. 2C:39-9(d). This is a fourth-degree crime that’s punishable by up to 18 months.
Robbery and Aggravated Assault
If a knife is used during a theft or robbery to threaten or hurt someone, the knife’s holder can be charged with a second-degree crime under N.J.S. 2C:15-1. This is a crime that’s punishable by 5-10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Otherwise, using a knife during a robbery in an attempt to kill or seriously injure someone else is considered a crime of the first degree, punishable by 10-20 years. Also, note that a conviction for knife robberies is subject to no early release under NERA. This entails spending 85% of the sentence before the possibility of release.
Concerning aggravated assault, under N.J.S. 2C:12-1, if a knife is used during a fight, the knife’s holder can be charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree crime punishable by 5-10 years (state prison). And a person can be charged with this crime even if the victim suffered no injury.
Aggravated assault, similar to knife robbery convictions, is subject to the no early release act, meaning that the sentenced has to serve 85% of their sentence before the possibility of release.
Is it legal to own a knife in New Jersey? According to the Second Amendment, it’s acceptable to own a knife. However, certain types of knives are illegal to own in New Jersey, and possession of any of these knives is considered a crime of the fourth degree.
Furthermore, the unlawful use of a knife, whether it’s legal or illegal, is considered a third-degree crime that can lead up to 3-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Unlawful knife use can be anything from using a knife to threaten someone to using a knife in the course of a burglary.