Are switchblades legal?

Does carrying a switchblade subject you to criminal liability?

Frequently individuals contact our criminal defense attorneys regarding switchblade possession.  Is simple possession of a a switchblade legal?  What about carrying a concealed switchblade?  Certainly if you’re considering purchasing or carrying a switchblade, the answers to these questions are important.

At Van Severen Law Office we defend individuals accused of committing all crimes.  Whether you face charges for something involving a knife that led to a violent crime, or something more mitigated, we can certainly help.  Contact Van Severen Law Office at (414) 270-0202 to speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys.

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What is a switchblade?

A switchblade is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade contained in the handle.  The operator of the weapon deploys the blade when he pushes a button or slide.  People frequently refer to switchblades as automatic knives.  Along with the push of the button, the blade moves out of the handle and can be used.

The United States led production and distribution of automatic knives for most of the early 20th century.  George Schrade began mass-producing the knives throughout the country, but doubled-down with advertising.  Schrade marketed the blades to ranchers, outdoorsmen, hunters, and farmers.  He believed the devices were quick, one-handed utility tools.

During World War 2, soldiers began using the tool as a weapon.  This certainly contributed to a market boom after the war, where Italian knife-makers exported large numbers of the knives to the United States.

Are the knives illegal?

The law changes quickly, but currently (July 24, 2020) switchblade possession is legal.  On February 8, 2016, 2015 Wisconsin Act 149 became law.  It is legal to manufacture, sell, transport, purchase, and possess a switchblade knife.  Secondly, the law prohibits municipalities and other government organizations from exacting ordinances regulating knives in a manner more-stringent than the state law. That all beings said, those specific governmental organizations can control switchblade possession within the buildings they own, operate, and control.

Finally, the law says that a person may not be charged with disorderly conduct for carrying or going armed with a knife.  It is legal to conceal or open-carry the knife, unless there are other facts which suggest the individual has malicious or criminal intent.  Importantly, the law allows a person to cary any concealed knife unless the person is prohibited under state law from possessing a firearm.

What if I’m a convicted felon?

Section 941.231 of the Wisconsin Statutes addresses whether convicted felons can possess switchblades.  The law indicates:

Any person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under s. 941.29 who goes armed with a concealed knife that is a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

In other words, if you’re prohibited from possession a firearm because of a felony conviction or domestic violence conviction, you cannot go armed with a concealed knife.  This law does not focus specifically on switchblade possession, but instead on possession of any knife that is a dangerous weapon.  That certainly includes switchblades.  It includes all other knives considered dangerous weapons.

A Class A misdemeanor is certainly a significant penalty, subjecting the defendant to a maximum penalty of 9 months in jail, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.  Prosecutors generally do not give a benefit of any doubt the individuals with criminal convictions.

Contact Van Severen Law Office regarding your criminal charges

Certainly the new knife laws didn’t make all crimes involving knives legal.  For example, if you stab someone with a knife, it’s likely you’ll be charged with something like substantial battery or 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety.  If you face charges for any kind of a crime, our defense lawyers can help you.

We regularly challenge illegal police conduct in court.  And we certainly fight for clients when they’re looking for trial defense.  If you’re simply looking to resolve your case in with a fair plea, we can certainly assist you with that.  Contact our criminal defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202.  We’ll set up an initial consultation and figure out how to begin fighting your case.

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