You don’t need to know that the knife you possess is a “gravity knife” to be accused of criminal possession of a weapon. If you’re accused in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island, contact a gravity knife lawyer in New York City right away.
Gravity knives are weapons whose mere possession is illegal, even if you don’t intend to use the knife unlawfully. They are often referred to in court as “per se” weapons.
Many people carry knives at work to cut ropes, boxes, drywall, etc. The problem is that many knives used for these tasks are considered gravity knives. Each year, thousands of gravity knives are sold over the counter and online to unwitting consumers throughout New York State. Under Section 265.00(5) of the Penal Law:
“Gravity knife” means any knife which has a 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.
Many work knives are designed so the user can open the blade and lock it in place with one hand; such knives often have a thumb hole built into the blade for this purpose. Through design, modification, or wear and tear, many of these knives also open and lock in place with a flick of the wrist (“the application of centrifugal force”).
New York City police officers assigned to subway stations and other locations are always on the lookout for the telltale clips attached to the handles of many such knives. Officers often stop, question, search and arrest knife owners from whose pockets these clips visibly protrude.
Police will test the seized knife’s ability to open as a gravity knife. The knife need not easily open and lock in place with a single, moderate flick of the wrist. The officer might need to use all his or her strength to get the knife to lock open. If the officer can get the knife to lock open once after multiple flicks, the officer likely will arrest the knife possessor for criminal possession of a weapon.
At least one judge has criticized the law’s unfairness in criminalizing possession of gravity knives. In U.S. v. Irizarry, the Hon. Jack Weinstein found that “The legislature’s plan in making items such as gravity knives ‘per se’ weapons under New York law was to ban only those items that are manufactured as weapons, not to criminalize the carrying of utility cutting instruments which are widely and lawfully sold.” Despite Judge Weinstein’s opinion, however, the law remains on the books.
By offering proof that they were carrying gravity knives on the way to or from work, I have been able to persuade prosecutors to dismiss weapon-possession charges against my clients.