California Penal Code § 17235 PC defines a switchblade as a knife that resembles a pocketknife with a blade of 2 inches or longer that releases automatically by
- a flick of a button,
- pressure on the handle,
- a flip of the wrist,
- weight of the blade, or
- any other mechanism.
It is a misdemeanor to carry switchblades under Penal Code 21510 PC.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
17235. As used in this part, “switchblade knife” means a knife having the appearance of a pocketknife and includes a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, gravity knife, or any other similar type knife, the blade or blades of which are two or more inches in length and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or by any type of mechanism whatsoever. “Switchblade knife” does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position.
Penal Code 17235 PC defines a switchblade as a knife that appears like a pocketknife and has a blade(s) at least 2 inches long that is automatically released by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, a flip of the wrist, another mechanical device, the weight of the blade(s), or any type of mechanism whatsoever.
Switchblades are not knives that open with one hand using thumb pressure applied to – or a thumb stud affixed to – the blade as long as the knife has a mechanism that either:
- gives resistance that the holder must overcome to release the blade, or
- biases the blade back toward being closed. 1 2
Other names for switchblades are automatic knives, ejector knives, pushbutton knives, Springer knives, switch knives, or flick knives. Furthermore, switchblades also include:
- Spring-blade knives,
- snap-blade knives,
- gravity knives,
- “balisong” or “batanga” knives (a.k.a. “butterfly” or “fan” knives).
California law makes it a misdemeanor to carry a switchblade, punishable by up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in county jail.3
See our related article, Are spring-assisted knives legal in California?
- California Penal Code 17235 PC – “Switchblade knife”.
- 17235 PC. In re Gilbert R. (Cal. App. 4th Dist. Nov. 29, 2012), 211 Cal. App. 4th 514.
- 21510 PC. In re S.C. (Cal. App. 1st Dist. Nov. 23, 2009), 179 Cal. App. 4th 1436.