Criminal Defense Blog NYC

The Alleged Switchblade that Wasn’t

January 23, 2018 / by Bruce Yerman

The Alleged Switchblade that Wasn't

Police recently arrested my client for allegedly possessing a switchblade knife.  The knife in question was a Gerber Assisted Opening Knife.  It’s pictured above in the closed position (and below in the opened position).

I viewed the knife at the District Attorney’s office.  The arresting officer demonstrated how it worked: as he pushed his thumb against the stud attached to the knife’s blade (circled in red in the photos above and below), the blade sprang open after rotating approximately 10 degrees from the closed position.

“Switchblade knife” is defined under Section 265.00(4) of the New York Penal Law as:

[A]ny 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.

It turns out that my client’s knife isn’t a switchblade.

The knife springs open from the locked-closed position only after thumb pressure is applied against the stud attached to the blade (circled in red in the photos).  The stud’s location on the knife’s blade, and not in its handle, makes all the difference.

Though the knife has a button in the handle (circled in yellow above), pressure applied to that button doesn’t cause the blade to automatically open.  Pressing that chrome-colored button unlocks the blade when it’s in the locked-open position, so that you can manually fold the blade into the handle – the button serves no other function.

So, the knife does not have a “blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device” that is located “in the handle of the knife”.

Therefore, the alleged switchblade wasn't.

Because police officers frequently misunderstand the legal definition of “switchblade knife”, your lawyer should always examine the knife for you.  It might result in the case against you getting dismissed.

Bruce Yerman is a New York City criminal defense attorney.  If you'd like to discuss weapons charges, contact Bruce for a free consultation:

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Topics: Switchblade, Weapons