In New York, most people have never heard of the term “Gravity Knife” until they are unfortunately arrested for and charged with Possession of a Weapon. A “Gravity Knife” is defined in the New York State Penal Law Section 265.00(5) as “any knife which has 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.” The definition is so broad that it applies to almost all everyday folding knives, knives that people use for work to cut sheet rock, boxes, and rope and even to common knives used for hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Under Section 265.01 of the New York State Penal Law (Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th Degree), it is a Class “A” Misdemeanor to possess a “Gravity Knife.” If someone has a previous conviction for any crime and is found in possession of a “Gravity Knife”, they will be charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 3rd Degree, which is a Class “D” Felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
In New York City, the police department always has its officers on the lookout for the telltale clips attached to the handles of many of these knives. Most people who get stopped by the police have no idea the knife they purchased legally through the internet or from their local Home Depot is actually illegal. Many people get stopped while walking home from work with the tool of their trade clipped to their blue jeans pocket. Others stopped and arrested are from out of town and having this knife attached to them is simply an everyday lifestyle.
Police will test the knife’s ability to open as a “Gravity Knife” by flicking them downward as hard as possible in an effort to get the folding blade to come out and lock into place. The knife need not open and lock into place with a single flick of the wrist. The police officer might need to use all of his strength to get the knife blade to lock open. It may take a police officer numerous tries to be successful and get the blade to come out and lock into place, but if they can do it, the likelihood of being arrested is great.
In both Nassau County and Suffolk County, I have represented numerous people who have been pulled over by the police for “routine” traffic offenses and been arrested for possession of a weapon by way of a “gravity knife” as it was found in “plain view”, in the center console or in the glove compartment box (more on the legality of search and seizures in another article).
Over the years, I have been successful in persuading prosecutor’s offices in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, New York County, Kings County, and the Bronx County to substantially lower and even dismiss charges brought against clients for violating the convoluted law against “gravity knives” in New York State. Hopefully soon enough, the New York State legislature in Albany will repeal the law against simple possession of “gravity knives,” but do not hold your breath.
If you have been arrested for possession of a gravity knife (or any other crime for that matter), do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. today for a free and confidential consultation. We are always available 24/7 at (516) 766-1878.