Many weapons, including various knives and blades, are illegal in the State of New Jersey. Switchblades are knives that spring out from a handle when a button is pressed, and they are illegal to carry under most circumstances.
It is a crime in New Jersey to carry a switchblade. Switchblades are counted among various other dangerous weapons and are mostly prohibited. You may be criminally charged simply for possessing a switchblade. However, it might be legal if you have a valid and lawful reason for carrying a switchblade. Whether your excuse is reasonable might be up to the police. There might be additional charges if you are arrested for using a switchblade or any other weapon for an unlawful purpose. Unfortunately, many defendants do not realize switchblades are illegal, and their charges are made harsher for it.
If you are charged with weapons offenses related to the illegal possession or use of a switchblade, call our Brigantine weapons charges attorneys for assistance. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free evaluation of your case.
Is it a Crime to Have a Switchblade in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, it is illegal to carry a switchblade. If the police stop you and find a switchblade in your possession, you might face criminal charges. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-3(e), various blades, weapons, and weapon accessories, including switchblades, are prohibited.
The law specifically states that having a switchblade is illegal if you do not have an explainable lawful purpose. The law does not specify an explainable lawful purpose, but your excuse should be reasonable. For example, if you are a fisherman carrying a switchblade to cut rope and fishing line on a boat, you might have an explainable and lawful purpose, even though other types of knives might be more sensible. Carrying a switchblade in a bar is far less reasonable and explainable.
What makes your reason for carrying a switchblade reasonable, explainable, and lawful depends largely on your circumstances. In many cases, people are charged even though they have a valid reason to carry the blade. Our Cape May weapons charges attorneys can help you fight any unfair criminal charges.
Charges and Penalties for Carrying a Switchblade in New Jersey?
Under the law, a person can be charged for illegally possessing a switchblade, which is a fourth-degree indictable crime. In New Jersey, indictable crimes are similar to felonies in other jurisdictions. If convicted of a fourth-degree crime, a defendant may be sentenced to a prison term of up to 18 months.
Possession is not the only offense you can be charged with involving a switchblade. If you are found to be in possession of the switchblade with an unlawful purpose, you can be charged with a third-degree indictable crime under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4(2)(d). A convicted defendant may be sentenced to at least 3 years but no more than 5 years in prison for a third-degree crime.
Generally, the police tend to crack down on switchblades when they believe they are being used for illegal purposes, particularly gang crimes and violence. Simply walking down the street with a switchblade in your pocket is likely not going to draw the attention of law enforcement. However, you might be in trouble if they find the switchblade during a pat down. Our Gloucester City, NJ weapons charges attorneys can help you challenge the case against you and hopefully avoid incarceration.
When is it Legal to Have a Switchblade in New Jersey?
As explained before, you might be able to get out of charges for possession of a switchblade if you have an explainable, lawful purpose for carrying it. As we have also discussed, what constitutes an explainable, lawful purpose may change depending on the circumstances.
There might be any number of reasons a person carries a switchblade. Some people collect unique or vintage weapons as a hobby, and knife collections are not unusual. If you are a collector transporting your new switchblade home after legally purchasing it, you are likely not running afoul of any laws. It is typically legal to have a switchblade in your own home.
However, carrying a switchblade for things like protection or with the intent of doing something you should not, you might face criminal penalties. While some weapons and firearms can be carried for self-protection, switchblades are not included. If you are facing criminal charges due to a misunderstanding with the police about your switchblade, our South Jersey weapons charges attorneys can help you explain the situation.
Defenses to Criminal Charges for Carrying a Switchblade in New Jersey
As you know, you can challenge your charges related to the illegal possession of a switchblade by providing an explainable and lawful reason for having the weapon. However, the police and prosecutors are not always willing to accept a defendant’s answer as truth. In such cases, we might have to argue over the context of the situation to prove that your possession of the switchblade was not unlawful.
One detail we can argue about is the location of the incident. Depending on where you were at the time of your arrest, it might have been reasonable to have a switchblade. For example, a carpenter or woodworker might have a switchblade for carving wood as part of their job, even if another knife might be more sensible. If they were going to or from their workshop when they encountered police, it might be reasonable for them to have a switchblade.
We can also argue about the search conducted by police in which they might have seized the switchblade. Searches and seizures, no matter how minor, must follow strict rules. If the police did not have a search warrant, they must have had a specific exception to the warrant rule. If neither a warrant nor exception were present, the search was illegal. Our New Jersey weapons charges lawyers can suppress evidence of the switchblade if it was illegally seized by law enforcement.
Call Our New Jersey Weapons Charges Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges for the illegal possession of a switchblade, you are up against more serious penalties than most people realize. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you. Call us at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free review of your case.