Nevada "Knife" Laws
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Unlike California, Nevada law has few provisions regulating the possession and use of knives.  However these knife crimes are very strict and can carry prison time.  A skilled Nevada criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate illegal knife charges down or get them dismissed.

Definition of Nevada knife crimes

For the most part, it is perfectly legal in Nevada to carry around a knife whether concealed or not.  But there are four main exceptions:

  1. It is illegal to possess switchblades with a blade-length of 2 inches or more (and throughout much of Clark County, it is illegal to carry switchblades of any length);1
  2. It is illegal to carry a concealed dirk, dagger, or machete without a local sheriff's permit;2
  3. It is illegal to carry dirks, daggers, or switchblades at schools, Nevada-state-run universities, or child care facilities;3 and
  4. It is illegal to draw or brandish a knife in a rude or threatening manner in front of two or more people.4

Nevada's few knife laws are very stringent.

Nevada knife laws do not apply to law enforcement officers who use knives in the course of their jobs.5

Defenses

The best way to fight charges of Nevada knife crimes always depends on the specifics of the individual case.  Three of the most common defenses are the following:

  1. No knowledge of the knife.  People should not be held criminally liable for illegally possessing a knife if they are unaware that the knife was there.  For instance if someone secretly plants an illegal knife in another person's car, the car owner is not in violation.
  2. The knife is not really illegal.  Perhaps the cop mistook the defendant's legal knife as a dirk or dagger.  Perhaps the defendant's switchblade's blade measures less than 2 inches.  If the knife in question lacks illegal features, charges should be dropped.
  3. Police misconduct.  Knives which police find through an unlawful search and seizure may be excluded from evidence.  The prosecution then may be left with too weak a case to pursue criminal charges.

Municipal knife laws are stricter than Nevada state knife laws.

Penalties

Nevada knife law violations range from misdemeanors to category C felonies.  A misdemeanor in Nevada carries:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.6

Penalties for breaking Nevada knife laws can be very serious.

Meanwhile a category C felony in Nevada carries:

Depending on the case, the D.A. may be willing to reduce the charges to lesser offenses.  And judges may elect to impose probation in lieu of incarceration.

Continue reading for more information on Nevada's four knife crimes:

Switchblade Laws in Nevada
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It is unlawful to carry switchblades in Nevada.

Definition

Nevada law prohibits people from owning, selling or carrying switchblades.8 Nevada law defines switchblades as spring-blade knives, snap-blade knives, or pocketknife-like knives with these 2 features:

  1. A blade of at least 2 inches in length, and
  2. The blade can be automatically released with pressure on the handle, a push of a button, or a similar mechanism9

Note that some Nevada cities prohibit switchblades with blades of less than 2 inches as well.  Some of these cities include Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas.10 Also note that local sheriffs may grant permits to possess, make, or sell switchblades to certain authorized buyers.11

Defenses

An effective defense to switchblade possession is that the defendant did not know of the switchblade's whereabouts.  For example perhaps someone left a switchblade in the defendant's house without the defendant's knowledge.  If the defense attorney can show that the defendant honestly did not realize the switchblade was there, the charge should be dropped.

Other possible defenses include:

A blade must measure at least 2 inches in length
to qualify as a switchblade under Nevada law.

Penalties:

A first-time offense of possessing a switchblade without a valid permit is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in jail

Any subsequent offense of making a switchblade without a valid permit is a category D felony in Nevada.  The sentence is:

Meanwhile, carrying a concealed switchblade is a category C felony
in Nevada
.  The sentence is:

  • 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • maybe up to $10,000 in fines13

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of possessing switchblades.

Concealed Carry laws for Dirks, Daggers, and Machetes in Nevada

Dirks

Dagger

Machete

Definition:

It is illegal to carry concealed dirks, daggers, or machetes under Nevada's concealed carry weapon (“CCW”) laws.14 A knife is considered concealed if it is carried in a way meant to go unnoticed.15 Examples include carrying a knife under a jacket, in a pocket, or in a bag.16

Note that Clark County law prohibits people from carrying concealed any knife with blade of 3 inches or more.17 Also note that carrying any type of knife concealed with intent to use it as a weapon violates CCW laws.18

Defenses:

A common defense to Nevada CCW charges is that the knife did not qualify as a dirk, dagger or machete.  Dirks, daggers, and machetes have specific features different from other knives. As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant carried a prohibited knife, the charge should be dropped.

Other possible defenses include:

  • The defendant was carrying the knives openly, and the arrested officer mistakenly believed they were concealed; or
  • The arresting officer conducted an unlawful search to find the knife.  In such a case, the defense attorney would file a Nevada motion to
    suppress evidence
    asking the judge to disregard the knife as evidence.

Penalties:

A first-time violation of Nevada's CCW knife laws is a gross misdemeanor.

A first-time conviction of carrying a concealed dirk, dagger or machete without a permit is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in jail

Any subsequent conviction of carrying a concealed dirk, dagger or machete without a permit is a category D felony in Nevada.  The punishment is:

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of carrying concealed dirks, daggers, or machetes.

Carrying dirks, daggers, and switchblades on school or childcare property in Nevada

Schools and childcare facilities are supposed to be weapons-free havens in Nevada.

Definition:

It is a crime in Nevada to possess dirks, daggers, or switchblades in the following children-populated locations:

  • Private or public schools (or vehicles belonging to them)
  • Public universities such as UNLV
  • Licensed child care facilities (or vehicles belonging to them)20

Note that there are some exceptions for owners of childcare facilities.21 Also note that certain law enforcement officials may carry knives on school and childcare property.22

Defenses:

A possible defense is that the defendant's knife does not qualify as a dirk, dagger or switchblade.  Each of these knives has specific characteristics that set them apart.  If the defense attorney can show that NRS 202.265 does not apply to the defendant's knife, the charges should be dismissed.

Other possible defenses include:

  • The defendant was not knowingly in possession of the knives; or
  • The police committed misconduct when investigating the case.  The judge may throw out evidence tainted from an illegal police search, which may cause the prosecution the drop to the charges entirely.

The defense lawyer's job is to try to keep the D.A. from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Penalties:

Possessing or carrying a weapon on school property is a gross misdemeanor.  The sentence includes:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in jail23

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of possessing dirks, daggers, or switchblades at schools or childcare facilities.

Drawing a knife in a threatening manner in Nevada

Brandishing a deadly weapon in a rude or angry manner is illegal in Nevada

Definition:

It is illegal in Nevada to draw or brandish deadly knives in a rude, angry, or threatening manner in the presence of 2 or more people.24 Typical “deadly knives” include:

  • dirks
  • dirk-knives
  • swords
  • sword canes25

Note that this is an entirely different offense from the Nevada crime of assault with a deadly weapon.  ADW is putting another person in anticipation of immediate bodily harm with a knife or other deadly weapon.  It carries much harsher penalties than drawing a knife threateningly.26

Defenses:

One potential defense is that the defendant's manner in brandishing the knife was not rude, angry, or threatening.  A person's manner is open to interpretation, and different eyewitnesses may think different things.  As long as the D.A. cannot prove the defendant acted threateningly beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges should not stand.

Other possible defenses include:

  • The knife was not deadly (such as a Swiss Army knive27); or
  • The defendant was acting in accordance with self-defense law in Nevada.

Violating NRS 202.320 carries a sentence of up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000

Penalties:

Drawing a deadly knife in a threatening manner is a misdemeanor in Nevada.  The sentence includes:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines28

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of drawing a knife in a threatening way.

Arrested for knife offenses in Nevada?
Call an attorney for help…

Call us at 702-DEFENSE

If you have been charged with a “knife crime” in Nevada, phone our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (333-3673) for a free phone meeting. We will do our all to try to negotiate and litigate a favorable end to your case.

We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Clark County, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.

For further reading go to our articles on misdemeanor in Nevada, gross misdemeanor in Nevada, category D felony in Nevada, category C felony in Nevada, Nevada crime of carrying concealed dirks, daggers, or machetes, Nevada crime of drawing a deadly knife in threatening way, Nevada self-defense laws, Nevada motion to suppress, Nevada search and seizure laws, Nevada crime of possessing dirks, daggers, or switchblades at schools or childcare facilities, and Nevada crime of possessing switchblades.  To learn about California knife laws, go to our informational articles on California knife laws.

Legal References:

1 NRS 202.350.

2 Id.

3 NRS 202.265.

4 NRS 202.320.

5 NRS 202.350(4).

6 NRS 193.150.

7 NRS 193.130.

8 NRS 202.350(1).

9 NRS 202.350(8)(h).

10 LVCO 10.70.010; NLVCO 9.32.040; HMC 8.98.070.

11 NRS 202.355(3).

12 NRS 202.350(2)(a).

13 NRS 202.350(2)(b).

14 NRS 202.350(1)(d)(2).

15 NRS 202.350(8)(a).

16 Huebner v. State, 731 P.2d 1330, 103 Nev. 29 (1987) (The Nevada Supreme Court found that the defendant's jacket concealed his knife.)

17 CCO 12.04.180.

18 Knight v. State, 116 Nev. 140, 993 P.2d 67 (2000).

19 NRS 202.350(2)(a).

20 NRS 202.265(1).

21 NRS 202.265(3)(a).

22 NRS 202.265(3)(b).

23 NRS 202.265(2).

24 Id.

25 Id.

26 NRS 200.471.

27 Buff v. State, 114 Nev. 1237, 970 P.2d 564 (1998) (Swiss Army knives are not deadly weapons.).

28 NRS 202.320.

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