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What happens if you were to ever use an illegal blade for self defense in the US?

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by CheapSteelCollector, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. painkilleraz


    Jul 5, 2014
    A fellow institute grad :)
  2. Ardrinaheireann


    Oct 19, 2012
    In Chicago, legal blade lenght is 2" if under 18 and 2.5" over 18

    There are quite a few knives 2.5" and under that can be adequately employed for self defence. In jurisdictions with 2.5" limits I have carried karambits with blades under 2.5", A hawg hawkbill at 2.25", a CAS Iberia Citizen 3 position knife with a one armed bandit thumb stud, and a few other knives I have that would fit the bill. I try to know the laws of the jurisdiction and carry accordingly. That said, you do have to be aware also in some jurisdictions what is viewed as a dangerous weapon, thus a karambit may seem dangerous or in California, the Citizen would be judged a push knife. Some places you can wear a belt buckle knife like a Bowen and in others it is illegal to do so. Knowledge of the law often isn't enough, how may be interpreted in a particular jurisdiction is important. But, consider, once a knife is brandished or actually used, it often becomes a dangerous weapon in the eyes of many in LE.

    I almost always carry a tactical pen, one that does't look like an ice pick or look designed to use as a penetrating stabbing weapon, Such as a Schrade, LCP lightfoot, Hinderer extreme duty, etc.; these can be as quick and devistating as a knife but have a casual appearance.

    Many knives I select to carry have a couple of characteristics, one is potential for retention, thus a karambit or the Citizen, and the other a potential to use when folded as a kubotan like a Microtech Kestral.

    I believe in options to meet threats be the appropriate level of force avoiding escalating to deadly force if not needed.

    So much for some of my carry options. As for the best strategy for self defence; not put yourself in a situation that calls for it. I grew up in a country and place where knife fights were frequent and have the scars that go along with that and it taught me, the best knife fight is the one that never happens. I also found that brandishing a weapon hoping to scare someone often is the trigger for escalation. In this country you had best be protecting yourself or someone else from great bodily harm or immediate death, unconcerned about the follow on ramifications because once you use a weapon and harm another, even in what might seem a justifiable situation, you will likely end up with consequences that will be life changing...and not in a good way.

    Aside from the Books mentioned by SharpJax, the following link is worth reading.
  3. Shredster


    Jan 15, 2019
    Illegal knives and self defense arguments aside, knife laws differentiating between switch blades, folding knives and out-the-front (OTF) vs fixed blade open carry knives are truly ridiculous. Criminals intending harm can use any of the listed knives to evoke harm and death just as easily when the blade is exposed for use. The knife type and how it opens has no real bearing on this fact. Collectors and self defense users should be able to legally carry all and if misused or not used correctly in "self defense" then pay the consequences. Knife type and blade opening method should not matter, regardless of the knife! The knife laws need to be revamped federally or especially in the states, like California where there are such restrictions on knife types.
  4. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    The use of the knife in SD and the "legality" of the knife used are separate legal issues.

    Like a gun, you can only use a knife for self-defense (or the defense of others) if you have a reasonable belief that you (or others) are at risk of death or serious bodily injury at the hands of another. Doesn't matter if the knife was illegally possessed to establish its use for self-defense.

    The DA can choose to prosecute or not on the SD and/or the legality issue.

    The legality issue is a "strict liability" cause of action based on the physical characteristics of the knife; whether manual or auto, gravity or nom-gravity (where applicable) and the blade length.

    The possibility exists that the DA would "NP" (not prosecute) on the legality issue if the right to use the knife for SD is established without ever reaching a judge and/or jury. However, the knife would be seized and you'd never get it back regardless of whether the DA chooses to prosecute on the legality issue or not.

    However, if your right to self-defense is not clearly established and the DA decides to prosecute on an attempted murder or other charge related to its use because its use for SD is not clearly established to the DA's satisfaction by the facts of the case, you can be sure that s/he will also charge on the legality issue, which is usually an "add-on" charge related to another criminal action (like burglary, robbery, etc.).
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
    madcap_magician likes this.
  5. Demon613


    Oct 13, 2010
    Ancient thread has been resurrected with necromancy. 15203223_204505446664465_467244448464802532_n.jpg
    Bigfattyt, TonySal, danbot and 2 others like this.
  6. madcap_magician

    madcap_magician Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    That's a good thing, but remember that the calculus is not just "Can I be prosecuted for carrying an illegal knife if I have to kill someone in self defense?"

    The OP's decision should also factor into consideration "Can I be prosecuted for carrying an illegal knife if my possession is discovered in literally any other way other than the aftermath of a self-defense investigation?" as well as "... which of those situations is more likely?"

    The odds of being caught with an illegal knife are probably very low, but I am certain they are higher than the odds of having to use one in self defense combined with the additional odds of being successful in doing so. And it becomes basically laughable if you allow that in even in a successful case of self defense with a knife, the odds would seem very low that the type of knife mattered, i.e. having any of a variety of legal knives would have served just as well for self defense with zero legal risk for illegal carry.

    That's not what this means! That's not what any of this means!

    ... but this is.
    TonySal likes this.
  7. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    Some things are worth repeating.
    Man with no name likes this.
  8. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    You would most likely be charged, convicted, and sent to prison.

    The prison cell mates will Nick Name you Felony Melony, just to hurt your feelings!! You will cry a lot, and the other inmates will call you Weeping Wilma.

    On a more serious note, I really mean that. Dont carry the illegal knife on the off chance you might need to fight off a pack of ninjas.

    Sounds like you can carry 3.5 inch blade folders legally. Get a pair of waved folders in that blade length. Any decent locking folder that fits your hand will work. Keep them sharp. Practice with them. As others have posted, training, if available can help.

    I'm not giving legal advice. I did not stay in a holiday in Express last night, but I am a defense lawyer. (This post is not intended to create any legal relationship, or provide legal advice of any kind).

    I will tell you that I have seen people charged, and convicted with similar situations.

    I'm not going to bother looking up the pertinent statutes in what ever jurisdiction you live in.... then try to guess what I think an officer is going to arrest you on, or what the prosecutor will eventually charge you with.
    TonySal, marchone and Lapedog like this.
  9. BubbaMorse5


    Jan 22, 2019
    OUTSTANDING REPLY! I personally always have a knife on me (like Amex, never leave home without it), but I've never once needed it. I'll walk away if needed, if that isn't an option, I rely on my Krav Maga training (Yes, I studied in Haifa and hold Expert status) knowledge and experience.
    TonySal likes this.
  10. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014

    what would happen if you killed someone with an illegal knife? Didn't you answer your own question?

    TonySal likes this.
  11. Reitwagen


    Mar 2, 2009
    I must adamantly disagree with this advice. My attorney told me to never give a statement to the police. Ask your attorney what to do when questioned by the police and see for yourself, or watch this:

    TonySal likes this.
  12. SW-EDC

    SW-EDC Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 4, 2015
    Don't use a knife for intended self defense. Short answer.
    Handgun or the most potent pepper spray you can find is what I do.
    TonySal likes this.
  13. betover

    betover Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 1, 2015
    OK I live in Chicago & have a CCW & carry a legal knife. My observation on using an illegal weapon is the prosecutors seem to pursue weapons charges in the event of deadly force based on how the case stacks up politicly. Before the Heller decision an elderly African American man shot an intruder with a hand gun that he wasn't supposed to have. No charges. A few weeks ago a young woman was attacked at a bus stop, knocked to the ground & pulled her legal CCW & killed the assailant. Everything was Kosher except that she was about to commit a crime in carrying her gun on the bus. No Charges, but the DA might have made her life unpleasant for awhile.
    I think what I'm trying to say is that if you are CLEARLY the good guy and using deadly force to prevent your imminent death or injury the law may wink at your illegal weapon. On the other hand they may not, so as a rule, render up to Cesar what is Cesar's. Try to obey the law.
    TonySal likes this.
  14. TonySal


    Jan 10, 2015
    As kid I remember hearing of the farmer who shot someone on his property, had a big problem.
    And some one shot a home intruder, the court ruled- you executed someone for a property crime? !?!
    yea... come into my house unannounced friend... I'm legal and waiting...
    betover likes this.
  15. Pteronarcyd


    Feb 19, 2019
    TonySal likes this.
  16. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    It would be a weapons possession charge. With a good lawyer it would be independent of the act of self defense and might not even be charged. With a bad lawyer you could have that possession used as evidence your actions were premeditated and really leave you back on your heels using a justified defense. In short it could be the difference between a plea deal or walking, and this in a potentially really nasty situation to begin with.

    Find a knife that fits or is dang close to the legal definitions in your locality and learn to deploy/use it to suit your confidence. A very small knife can be extremely effective for SD - look at the size of the knives Marcaida routinely trains with.

    And get some open handed training - as my Kali instructor once stated "unless you are the aggressor, it is highly likely you will have to survive the first couple seconds open handed even if you have a knife in easy access on your person".
    TonySal likes this.
  17. 420 Stainless

    420 Stainless

    Mar 5, 2019
    "Any statements you make can be used against you in a court of law."

    Don't Talk To Cops (above) is sound advice. No matter what you might say, the prosecution will use your statement against you.

    ALL parties in a legal case will assert that they're the "victim." Police will use any statement to prosecute. They won't use your statement as a defense. Not ever.
    Reitwagen and TonySal like this.
  18. arajaty


    Apr 23, 2019
    So my question is, what would happen to somebody in Illinois if they harmed or killed somebody in self defense, although the knife they used was not a legal folding knife, but something like a switchblade or fixed blade?
    I'd like to know this because It's not exactly protecting yourself if it lands you in jail or something. I don't want to carry a better, but illegal blade for self defense if that means I could get into big trouble. If you can get into big trouble, then what is the best legal self defense knife to carry?

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  19. BumblingBear

    BumblingBear Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 19, 2015
    1. Don't carry illegal knives
    2. Know the laws for your state or any state you are in
    3. Know martial arts or self defense
    4. Know that knives make really terrible self defense weapons. A big stick is usually better
    5. Running is usually better than fighting (if you can)*
    6. De-escalate if you possibly can*

    #5 and #6 are important. Carrying a tool as a weapon is a responsibility and a liability. Before taking action that could ruin someone else's life and yours, be damn sure you have no other choice. For most normal people, a far better SOP is to have situational awareness and not put oneself in sketchy situations. Of course, shit happens, but I would gladly give up my wallet to avoid violence in most circumstances.

    This is basically all stuff others have already said. TLDR, really think through the consequences of needing to use a weapon, always act responsible, and understand that while lawfully carrying a weapon, you must be more level-headed and wise than the other guy.
    TonySal likes this.
  20. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Again, if the circumstances were pretty straightforward the illegal weapon charge might just be dropped either way - you charged with assault w/ deadly weapon/manslaughter (the knife is illegal anyway due to unlawful intent), or court agrees with your affirmative defense and decide it makes no sense to pursue misdemeanor weapons charge.

    But, the illegal weapon will always cast a shadow over your justification defense. Research your local knife laws (check your penal code) and just don't carry a knife that you aren't reasonably certain is legit.

    After that, get some learning in FMA or some other MA that has a realistic track record with edged tools. A small knife is not the best tool for SD, but it is a handy thing to have anyway and if things go way south it is more effective than nothing.

    The best one to carry is one that is:
    -legal per local or state definition
    -has a handle that allows for a solid grip
    -can be presented rapidly
    TonySal likes this.

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