Florida Knife Laws Explained

Florida has one of the most vague concealed carry knife laws of all 50 states. This means that you must read case precedence to see what is legal and what is not. Don’t worry, we did all the hard work for you. Below is what Florida law says about knives in everyday English. It includes excerpts from the law as well as case decisions.

What is Legal to Own

  • Balisong knives are legal.
  • Belt knives, cane knives, and other disguised knives are legal.
  • Bowie knives and other large knives are legal.
  • Throwing stars and throwing knives are legal.
  • Undetectable knives (knives that will not set off metal detectors) are legal.
  • Ballistic knives are illegal.

The law does not limit individuals from owning, selling, or buying any knife except for ballistic knives.

Limits on Carry

  • You can open carry any knife.
  • Box cutters, multi-tools, and other work knives are legal to carry concealed.
  • In most cases, conceal carry of a common pocket knife with a blade of less than 4 inches is legal.
  • Anything outside of this has not been expressly banned or allowed.

What the Law Says

Fla. Stat. § 790.01 (2012)

§ 790.01.  Carrying concealed weapons

[A] person who carries a concealed weapon […] on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

“Concealed weapon” means any dirk, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.

“Weapon” means any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.

It is a crime to carry a concealed weapon. Concealed weapon means any deadly weapon that is outside of sight of others. Courts have found that deadly weapons are weapons that can cause death or grave bodily harm. So, what kinds of knives counts as deadly weapons? What is a “common pocket knife? Well, the law doesn’t say so it is up to the courts to determine.

The case of Porter vs. State in 2001 found that a pocket knife is a “common pocket knife” only if the blade is less than 4 inches in length and the knife is in the closed position. Police found Porter with a 4 inch folder knife in the open position in her purse. She was arrested for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and found guilty. She appealed stating that the knife is a common pocket knife but the appeal court turned down her appeal. This means that, if a pocket knife is over 4 inches and in the open position, it is a weapon and excluded from being a “common pocket knife.”

However, if the pocket knife has too many features, it might not be a “common pocket knife.” The case of F.R. vs State in 2012 found that 3 inch pocket knife with serrations, a notch grip, hilt guard, and locking mechanism does not count as a “common pocket knife.” If his knife did not have serrations, a notch grip, hilt guard, and locking mechanism, it might of been a “common pocket knife.”

If the knife was designed for utility and not harm, it is not a deadly weapon. In the case of Holley v. State in 2004, it was found that a box cutter or razor knife does not qualify as a deadly weapon because it was designed for utility not bodily harm.

In addition to the physical characteristics of the knife, the courts also decided that how the knife was used and handled needs to be taken into account as well. In the case of Mims v. State, Mims was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon for having a pocket knife in his pocket during a robbery.

These cases still do not present that clear of a picture of what type of knife is a weapon and the case of Bell vs. State in 1996 found that it is up to the jury to decide if a knife is a deadly weapon given the definition of a deadly weapon, the knife, and how the knife was used into consideration. Judges can not make the decision.

The case of Hardy vs. State in 1992 found that a knife inside of a vehicle is not concealed if the knife and sheath is visible from the outside. Having a knife in the vehicle usually counts as having a concealed weapon but, if it is visible threw the windows, it is not concealed.

What does this all mean? It means that you should stick to a plain 4 inch pocket knife, multi-tool, or box cutter. Any other type of knife can be illegal.

Ballistic Knife Ban

Fla. Stat. § 790.225 (2012)

§ 790.225.  Ballistic self-propelled knives; unlawful to manufacture, sell, or possess; forfeiture; penalty

(1) It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, display, sell, own, possess, or use a ballistic self-propelled knife which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile and which physically separates the blade from the device by means of a coil spring, elastic material, or compressed gas. A ballistic self-propelled knife is declared to be a dangerous or deadly weapon and a contraband item. It shall be subject to seizure and shall be disposed of as provided in s. 790.08(1) and (6).

Ballistic knives are also illegal under federal law so it is best to stay away from them.

Conclusion on Florida Knife Laws

For the most part, Florida knife laws are easy. You can own any knife as long as it is not a ballistic knife and, if you keep your knives at home, you should be fine. You can also open carry any knife you want. You can conceal carry any box cutter, multi-tool, or 4 inch pocket knife. Conceal carry of any other type of knife can or can not be considered carrying a concealed weapon so watch out.

There are also local laws outside of this so look up the laws in your city as well. Most cities in Florida have clearer guidelines on what is legal and illegal than the state law.

If you have a question, post it below. Note that this is not legal advice and I am not an attorney. Talk to an attorney if you are looking for legal advice. If you happen to be an attorney reading this, we are looking for an attorney to do a quick interview about Florida knife laws, please contact us.

  • Heber Perez

    I am a FL CCW permit holder, right now I have a survivor’s knife ( I think it has an around 10″ blade, serrated top and some accesories inside the handle, thread, needles, matches and things of such nature) in its sheath in the “storage” space of my car door. Is it legal for me to carry it that way? I never have it on my, it always stays inside my car….

  • Robin Lewis Jr.

    I have a large buck knife. Am I able to care it on my waist inside a sheath. (the blade is larger than 4 inches) I didn’t know if the sheath made a difference or not

    • Robin Lewis Jr.

      Please reply under my post

  • Beth Chaisson

    I’m about to move to Florida in a few months and have 2 katana swords. I prefer them over owning a gun for protection. My question is this, what is Florida’s law over swords? Will I have to register them or something?

  • Blue

    I never knew ballistic knives existed. Now I want one.

  • thebelldiver

    You know; it’s a damn shame what I’M READING HERE. We have to snivel like dogs to see what the masters i.e., FEDERAL STATE AND MUNICIPAL DICKHEADS considers what’s okay or not. and then word it so they can do what ever suits their fancy. This is 100% bs. I enlisted in the army in 1970 to protect this kind of stinking, WORSE THAN COMMUNISM; government? I don’t think so.

    Carry what hell you need to for what ever reason to cut what ever? The questions will always remain the same; Is this legal is that legal today what about tomorrow what about next week. F. THAT! This whole country is operating; ILLEGAL and by liars and scumbags; and some STINKING SOB or fat slob is going to dictate what the hell I can carry? if the law makers e.g., little HITLER /MRers weren’t such scumbags they wouldn’t need to worry about who’s carrying what. They’re job it to administer the gd finances and keep the infrastructure from failing not end up as RAT BASTARD DICTATORS MAKING LAW and debt as their legacy. BESIDES; A 2″ box cutter BLADE CAN CARVE UP ANY size ass.

    What about the 2nd amendment? Since when does a municiple court dictate and override the gd constitution? You sheep; just keep asking. THE LORD AND MASSA WHAT YOUS IS ALLOWED TO DO. DA MASSA will decide to lets you chillin out to play or carry a knife gun or toothpick. As long as you act and beg like dogs you’re going to be treated like dogs. The thing is; the MASSA’s be thinking I is da dog too. ” NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” IS ABSOLUTELY, GOD DAMN RIGHT!

  • Robert Murphy

    I am curious as to if I need a concealed weapons permit to carry brass knuckles, butterfly knives, switchblades and throwing stars in the state of Florida? I have visited many websites and have not found the information that solidifies my answer one way or the other. If there are any law-enforcement officers out there who know the answer, I would certainly appreciate any feedback you can provide.

  • adam vollet

    I am a 13 year old considering buying a trainer balisong. it just has a rounded, dull , flat metal piece. am I allowed ti keep it at home?