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.

Comments

  1. OK…I understand what you said but: If I do have a concealed weapons permit, I am allowed to carry an auto knife? I am a retired deputy but being a civilian confuses me now.

  2. To Paul Burns who asked ” neighbor’s dog made a serious attempt to take my leg off when I went out for a 0500 walk here in Tallahassee, FL.”

    My opinion is you should get training, a carry permit, a Glock 19, and a good Inside the Wasteband holster. I love dogs but it sounds like that dog is dangerous and that its owner is trying to cover for it. I suggest if it seriously attacks you again and you have to defend yourself that you kill it.

  3. It looks like anti-self defence, anti-knife, lying, manipulative, scumbag politicians deliberately worded Florida’s law so that it will basically be up to the cop and the judge to decide what they arrest, charge, and convict you for.

    The laws should not be this complicated and grey.

    I’d like to carry a 4 inch Titanium Dive knife on me if I ever go on vacation to Marco Island Again. One of those would be downright useful. Looks like that may or may not be legal. Ill probably get convicted even if it is legal though!

    I wonder if having a carry permit would make the law less vague and grey.

    Freaking unconstitutional commies!!! Whoever wrote that law was a degenerate.

    1. Open carry it, in it’s sheath, not concealed.

      It makes for an active deterrent that way….
      Last time I was at Marco Island I didn’t see anything to be worried about…. but I also carry options… 🙂

  4. Well if I ever go on vacation to Florida again I am going to make sure I get a letter from the local police Dept ok’ing the exact type of knife I will be carrying and the method or methods in which I will be carrying it.

    I have swam with my Glock 19 before and I would be carrying the to G19 concealed anyways BUT the reason I wanted to carry a knife wasn’t for self defense. I would want to carry the knife concealed preferably so as to not scare the morons. The Police don’t need their time wasted and I got better things to do then scare pansy liberals.

  5. ‘Ka-Bar Original TDI Law Enforcement Serrated Knife’
    Is this One considered a Legal Carry Knife?

  6. I got arrested a few nights ago and had a small knife in my purse, the blade is maybe two inches at most. They didn’t give it back, is that illegal to have? I was arrested for Dui.

  7. Why dont you idiots read the damn article???!!! All your queations are qnswered in there

  8. I’m 16 years old, is it illegal for me to carry a karambit that is in a sheath In plain view on my belt while I go fishing? Also is it legal for me to carry a butterfly knife sense its considered a folding knife & not a gravity knife. The blades are under 4inches with no hilt guard, notches, or serations.

  9. When i go fishing and going to and back from my trip I open carry a buck knife 10″ in length and a knights arms Sr-15 E3 with 3 mags over my shoulder and ive had no problems you can legally open carry under the folowing conditions going fishing and back home, camping,hunting. Which you can open carry from knives,machetes,tomahawks,axes,rifles,shotguns,handguns.

  10. Can I open carry a 7 inch blade Ka-bar knife I’m a 10 year old worried about getting mugged I live in tampa

    1. You should rethink this, that knife will do you more harm than provide protection.

    2. True, in 21 feet a subject with deadly intent can cover that distance and stab an officer before the officer can draw and fire. Even with a shot or two that hit the subject, adrenaline and possibly drugs will maintain momentum and numb pain and you will still be stabbed. Unless The T spot of the face (brain stem) or spine, or heart is hit. We have no stab vests, the UK has stab vests since guns are banned., Ballistic projectile vests are meant to work on firearm rounds (pistol) and will not work on a knife. If the knife is already out, my weapon would be drawn as I exited and if any move in my direction was made, deadly force was would be used no question. An ASP (baton), or taser, are below the threat level. 21 feet without a weapon drawn and you will be stabbed unless unlikely back-up is around (many areas officers are alone, back is 10-20 min away). Serious, serious matter. keep them sheathed and visible over 4 inches in public unless defending or in the woods away from the public. If an officer asks you to drop or lay it down, do so. Please don’t cause difficulty and there will be problems. We all want to go home when it’s time, safe. Most officers would fear a drawn 5-7 inch knife than a pistol for numerous reasons. Getting back in the car ignition on and firing through the side window if any non-compliance or advance or “bumping” them with my car are options. Knives are SERIOUS. Krav Maga should be part of police training, disarming knives and using ASP’s (batons) in particular.

    3. Danny Crowe proved the 21 foot rule falls a little short, pun intended-
      (vs. Raylen Givens, Justified Season 5)

  11. Can I open carry a 7 inch blade Ka-bar knife I’m a 10 year old worried about getting stabbedI live in tampa

    1. u shld plp mex tex can hlp cd row

  12. You have some incorrect grammar you may want to fix:

    1. Section “What the Law Says,” Paragraph 3, it says “might of.” “Might of” doesn’t mean anything, it should say “might have.”

    2. 2nd paragraph right before “Balistic Knife Ban,” it says “if it is visible threw the windows.” “Threw” should be replaced with “through.”

  13. So you’ve stated you can open carry just about any knife. Does that mean I can carry a Karambit as long as the finger loop is visible, or it is clipped to my pants? What about if it it is clipped to my pants, but I happen to wear a long shirt that happens to cover the clip (as most shirts normally do that)?

    What about concealed carrying a folding karambit with wave-opener that has a blade length of 3″? The karambit was invented in Indonesia for utility, so even though it can be used as a weapon, it is a utility knife. In my opinion, it is the best knife available to work with.

    1. If your shirt covers it, then just like a firearm, it’s concealed. You would need a Florida Concealed Weapons Permit in that exact case.
      If you would like to get your permit, contact me thru my website
      http://SelfProtectionConcepts.com

  14. “Well if I ever go on vacation to Florida again I am going to make sure I get a letter from the local police Dept ok’ing the exact type of knife I will be carrying and the method or methods in which I will be carrying it.” – Jason

    That sounds like a great idea. I’ve asked a few cops what the law was regarding guns in the car, but I never thought about getting a statement in writing so I have proof of what was said. I didn’t know I could do that! I guess I should do that too.

  15. Is it legal to carry a Bear Grylls Ultra Compact Fixed Blade Knife in a sheath around my neck.

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