Nevada Knife Laws
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Laws

Unlike California, Nevada has few provisions regulating the possession and use of knives. It is legal in Nevada to carry knives with these four main exceptions:

  1. It is illegal to carry a concealed machete or other dangerous or deadly weapons without a proper carrying concealed weapons (CCW) permit;
  2. In Clark County, it is illegal to conceal carry a knife with a blade of three inches or more without written sheriff's permission;
  3. It is illegal to possess dirks, daggers, or switchblades at schools, Nevada-state-run universities, or child care facilities; and
  4. It is illegal to draw or brandish dirks, swords, or other deadly weapons in a rude or threatening manner in front of two or more people.

Penalties

The punishment for violating Nevada knife laws depends on the specific charge:

Nevada knife offense Penalties for a first offense

Carrying a concealed knife without a CCW permit

Gross misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

Possessing a knife at school

Gross misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

Brandishing a knife

Misdemeanor

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

The defense attorney may be able to persuade the D.A. to dismiss the charge or plea bargain it down.

Defenses

Depending on the specific charges, common defenses to Nevada knife crimes include:

  • The weapon was not concealed
  • The blade was less than 3 inches
  • The weapon was not prohibited on school property
  • The defendant brandished the weapon in accordance with Nevada self-defense laws

As long as the D.A. has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the criminal charges should be dropped.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

Nevada knife crime
Carrying a concealed machete without a proper CCW permit is a crime in Nevada.

1. Do I need a CCW permit to wear knives concealed in Nevada?

Nevada law requires people to have a CCW permit in order to carry concealed machetes or other dangerous or deadly weapons.1

NRS 202.350 does not define which types of knives other than machetes qualify as "dangerous or deadly."2 However, NRS 202.265 and NRS 202.320 indicate that dangerous and deadly weapons may include:

  • dirks,
  • dirk-knives,
  • swords,
  • sword canes,
  • daggers, and
  • switchblades

A knife is considered concealed if it is carried in a way meant to go unnoticed. Examples include carrying a knife:

Nevada knife crime
  • in a pocket,
  • in a bag, or
  • under a jacket3

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of carrying concealed knives.

1.1. CCW in Clark County

Note that Clark County law requires people to have a CCW permit in order to carry concealed any type of knife with blade of three (3) inches or longer.4 For more information, contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at 702-828-3111.

1.2. How do I get a CCW permit for knives?

Nevadans should contact their local sheriff's office for instructions and reciprocity rules. The vast majority of CCW permits are for carrying concealed firearms, and gun permits have different requirements than those for carrying concealed knives.

People who wish to carry any concealed knife is encouraged to contact an attorney to help determine whether a CCW permit is necessary for their type of knife. The person can also contact the local sheriff's office for guidance.

Here is a list of links to Nevada sheriff's offices.

2. Can I carry knives openly in Nevada?

dirk
Dirk

Yes. Nevada has no laws prohibiting the open carry of knives in Nevada. But as discussed in the following question, it is unlawful to carry certain knives on school property and at child care facilities.

3. Are there places in Nevada I cannot carry knives at all?

Yes. Nevada law prohibits the open or concealed possession of 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)

Exceptions to this rule include security guards, peace officers, and other people given written permission to carry the weapon on the premises. And people who run child care facilities in their own homes may have their knives on the premises; however, they should be careful to keep the children away from them or else they could face charges of the Nevada crime of reckless endangerment or worse.5

For more information see our article on the Nevada crime of possessing weapons at schools or childcare facilities.

4. What if I draw or brandish a knife in Nevada?

It is illegal in Nevada to draw or brandish deadly knives in a rude, angry, or threatening manner in the presence of two (2) or more people. NRS 202.320 specifies "deadly" weapons to include:

Nevada knife crime
  • dirks,
  • dirk-knives,
  • swords, and
  • sword canes6

Note that brandishing a knife is an entirely different offense from the Nevada crime of assault with a deadly weapon (ADW). ADW is putting another person in anticipation of immediate bodily harm with a knife or other deadly weapon.

Furthermore, ADW can be committed with only one person present, whereas brandishing a knife requires at least two people present. ADW carries much harsher penalties than drawing a knife threateningly.7

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

5. Are any knives illegal in Nevada?

No knives are illegal to possess in Nevada. State law used to have restrictions on switchblades, but that statute was recently repealed. For more information, see our article on Nevada switchblade laws.

5.1. Trefoils

Note that Nevada law does prohibit people from possessing "trefoils" in the following circumstances:

Trefoil
Trefoil
  • on school or child care property (or vehicles belonging to them), 
  • at public universities, or
  • with the intent to inflict harm upon another person

Trefoils are not really considered "knives", but they do have at least three sharp edges. And like knives, trefoils may be thrown. Trefoils also go by the names throwing stars or ninja stars.8

6. What are the penalties for Nevada knife crimes?

The punishment for wrongfully carrying or brandishing a knife depends on the specific offense: 

Penalties

Carrying a concealed knife without a CCW permit

A first offense is a gross misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

A subsequent offense is a category D felony

Carrying a concealed knife in Clark County

Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines10

Possessing or using a trefoil with intent to cause harm

A first offense is a gross misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

A subsequent offense is a category D felony

  • 1 – 4 years in prison, and
  • up to $5,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)11

Possessing a knife at school

Gross misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • Up to $2,000 in fines12

Brandishing a knife

 Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines13

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

7. What are the defenses to Nevada knife crimes?

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

  1. The knife is not concealed (in NRS 202.350 cases),
  2. The knife is less than three inches long (in Clark County CCW cases),
  3. The knife is not illegal at schools (in NRS 202.265 cases), and/or
  4. The defendant acted in self-defense (in NRS 202.320 cases)

7.1. The knife is not concealed

Nevada law requires CCW permits for dangerous knives only when the person is wearing them in a concealed manner.14 Maybe the police incorrectly believed the knife was hidden when in fact the defendant was openly carrying it. Common evidence that may show that a defendant's knife was visible includes:

Dagger
Dagger
  • surveillance video,
  • photographs, and/or
  • eyewitnesses

As long as the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the knife was concealed from plain view, criminal charges for carrying a concealed knife should not stand.

7.2. The knife is less than three inches long

Clark County law prohibits concealed carry of knives that are three (3) inches in length or longer.15 If people arrested for this offense can show that the police was mistaken about the the blade being too long, then the charge should be dropped. An accurate ruler that measures down to the micrometer would be helpful evidence.

7.3. The knife is not illegal at schools

Nevada law specifically prohibits only dirks, daggers, or switchblades from school, public university or child care property.16 If the defense attorney can show that the knife in question does not fall under the definition of dirk, dagger, or switchblade, the NRS 202.265 charges should be dismissed. Testimony from a weapons expert would be helpful evidence.

7.4 The defendant brandished the knife in self-defense

Nevada law permits people to brandish knives in a rude, angry or threatening manner as long as it is done in self-defense.17

Nevada knife crime
Sword

Example: Bill and Fred get into an argument in Fred's living room during a party. Bill starts punching Fred. Fred retaliates by pulling off the sword he keeps on his mantle and waving it at Bill. Even though Fred clearly drew the sword in a threatening manner in front of two or more people, Fred should not face NRS 202.320 charges because he was acting in self-defense.

Had Bill in the above example not punched Fred but merely yelled at him, Fred would probably not be justified in waving the sword at Bill. Self-defense is a valid defense only when the defendant did not make the first move, and the defendant uses proportional force.18

8. Can I get my Nevada knife case sealed?

Yes, though the waiting period to apply for a seal depends on the specific offense:

Nevada knife offense Waiting period to get a record seal

First conviction of carrying a concealed knife without a CCW permit (gross misdemeanor)

 2 years after the case ends

Subsequent conviction of carrying a concealed knife without a CCW permit (category D felony)

 5 years after the case ends

First conviction of possessing or using a trefoil with intent to harm (gross misdemeanor)

2 years after the case ends

Subsequent conviction of possessing or using a trefoil with intent to harm (category D felony)

5 years after the case ends

Carrying a knife at school (gross misdemeanor)

 2 years after the case ends

Brandishing a knife (misdemeanor)

 1 year after the case ends19

Dismissed charges (no conviction)

No waiting period20

Learn more about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.

9. Can I get deported for a knife crime?

Nevada knife crime

Illegally carrying or brandishing a knife is usually not deportable. However, it is never a sure thing how immigration judges will rule...

Any non-citizen charged with criminal offenses are advised to hire an attorney as quickly as possible. Perhaps the D.A. will be willing to dismiss the charges or at least change them to offenses that are unquestionably non-deportable. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

10. Related offenses

10.1. Nevada laws for using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime (NRS 193.165) 

When a person uses or possesses a deadly weapon while executing a crime, the judge will increase the sentence by one to twenty (1 - 20) years. However, this added sentence may not be longer than the underlying sentence...

So for example, if a defendant is sentenced to 8 years behind bars for armed robbery, the extra sentence can be no longer than 8 years for a total sentence of 16 years.

Read more about penalties for using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime in Nevada.21

10.2. Nevada battery laws (NRS 200.481)

The Nevada crime of battery is any unlawful use of physical force on another person. Common examples include stabbing, hitting, kicking, slapping, spitting on, and poisoning.

Battery can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on whether the situation involved weapons, strangulation, or substantial bodily harm.22

10.3. Nevada assault laws (NRS 200.471)

The Nevada crime of assault is like an attempted battery. Assault is putting someone else in the apprehension of being immediately physically harmed. A common example is holding a knife in front of someone's neck as if the person is about to be struck.

Assault can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on whether weapons are involved and whether the victim is a police officer (or other "protected class").23

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you have been charged with a “knife crime” in Nevada, phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) 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.

Arrested in California? Go to our informational articles on California knife laws.

Arrested in Colorado? Go to our informational articles on possession a weapon on school grounds in Colorado, carrying concealed weapons in Colorado, or possessing a dangerous weapon in Colorado.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 202.350 Manufacture, importation, possession or use of dangerous weapon or silencer; carrying concealed weapon without permit; penalties; issuance of permit to carry concealed weapon; exceptions.

          1. Except as otherwise provided in this section and NRS 202.3653 to 202.369, inclusive, a person within this State shall not:...

          (d) Carry concealed upon his or her person any:

                 (1) Explosive substance, other than ammunition or any components thereof;

                 (2) Machete; or

                 (3) Pistol, revolver or other firearm, other dangerous or deadly weapon or pneumatic gun.

          2. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 202.275 and 212.185, a person who violates any of the provisions of:

          (a) Paragraph (a) or (c) or subparagraph (2) of paragraph (d) of subsection 1 is guilty:

                 (1) For the first offense, of a gross misdemeanor.

                 (2) For any subsequent offense, of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

          (b) Paragraph (b) or subparagraph (1) or (3) of paragraph (d) of subsection 1 is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

          3. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the sheriff of any county may, upon written application by a resident of that county showing the reason or the purpose for which a concealed weapon is to be carried, issue a permit authorizing the applicant to carry in this State the concealed weapon described in the permit. This subsection does not authorize the sheriff to issue a permit to a person to carry a pistol, revolver or other firearm.

          4. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 5, this section does not apply to:

          (a) Sheriffs, constables, marshals, peace officers, correctional officers employed by the Department of Corrections, special police officers, police officers of this State, whether active or honorably retired, or other appointed officers.

          (b) Any person summoned by any peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while the person so summoned is actually engaged in assisting such an officer.

          (c) Any full-time paid peace officer of an agency of the United States or another state or political subdivision thereof when carrying out official duties in the State of Nevada.

          (d) Members of the Armed Forces of the United States when on duty.

          5. The exemptions provided in subsection 4 do not include a former peace officer who is retired for disability unless his or her former employer has approved his or her fitness to carry a concealed weapon.

          6. The provisions of paragraph (b) of subsection 1 do not apply to any person who is licensed, authorized or permitted to possess or use a machine gun or silencer pursuant to federal law. The burden of establishing federal licensure, authorization or permission is upon the person possessing the license, authorization or permission.

          7. This section shall not be construed to prohibit a qualified law enforcement officer or a qualified retired law enforcement officer from carrying a concealed weapon in this State if he or she is authorized to do so pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 926B or 926C.

          8. As used in this section:

          (a) “Concealed weapon” means a weapon described in this section that is carried upon a person in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation.

          (b) “Honorably retired” means retired in Nevada after completion of 10 years of creditable service as a member of the Public Employees' Retirement System. A former peace officer is not “honorably retired” if he or she was discharged for cause or resigned before the final disposition of allegations of serious misconduct...

         (f) “Qualified law enforcement officer” has the meaning ascribed to it in 18 U.S.C. § 926B(c).

          (g) “Qualified retired law enforcement officer” has the meaning ascribed to it in 18 U.S.C. § 926C(c)

          (i) “Trefoil” means an instrument consisting of a metal plate having three or more radiating points with sharp edges, designed in the shape of a star, cross or other geometric figure and used as a weapon for throwing.

  2. Knight v. State, 116 Nev. 140, 993 P.2d 67 (2000)("[T]he determination of whether a common steak knife is a dangerous or deadly weapon is a question of fact for the jury..."); Buff v. State, 114 Nev. 1237, 970 P.2d 564 (1998)("[T]he district court could not determine as a matter of law that the Swiss army knife used by appellants was a deadly weapon...").
  3. See, e.g., Huebner v. State, 731 P.2d 1330, 103 Nev. 29 (1987) (The Nevada Supreme Court found that the defendant's jacket concealed his knife.).
  4. Clark County Code 12.04.180 - Concealed weapons prohibited without permit.

    It is unlawful, within the unincorporated area of Clark County, for any person to carry upon his person a concealed weapon, not permitted in accordance with state law, of any description, including a knife with a blade of three inches or more, capable of being concealed, without first having received written permission therefor from the sheriff.

  5. NRS 202.265 Possession of dangerous weapon on property or in vehicle of school or child care facility; penalty; exceptions.

          1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not carry or possess while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or child care facility:

          ...(b) A dirk, dagger or switchblade knife;

          (c) ...trefoil...

          (g) Any device used to mark any part of a person with paint or any other substance.

          2. Any person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

          3. This section does not prohibit the possession of a weapon listed in subsection 1 on the property of:

          (a) A private or public school or child care facility by a:

                 (1) Peace officer;

                 (2) School security guard; or

                 (3) Person having written permission from the president of a branch or facility of the Nevada System of Higher Education or the principal of the school or the person designated by a child care facility to give permission to carry or possess the weapon.

          (b) A child care facility which is located at or in the home of a natural person by the person who owns or operates the facility so long as the person resides in the home and the person complies with any laws governing the possession of such a weapon.

          4. The provisions of this section apply to a child care facility located at or in the home of a natural person only during the normal hours of business of the facility.

          5. For the purposes of this section:

          (a) “Child care facility” means any child care facility that is licensed pursuant to chapter 432A of NRS or licensed by a city or county...

          (d) “Switchblade knife” means a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife or any other knife having the appearance of a pocketknife, any blade of which is 2 or more inches long and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle or other mechanical device, or is released by any type of mechanism. The term does not include a knife which has a blade that is held in place by a spring if the blade does not have any type of automatic release.

          (e) “Trefoil” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.

          (f) “Vehicle” has the meaning ascribed to “school bus” in NRS 484A.230.

  6. NRS 202.320 Drawing deadly weapon in threatening manner.

          1. Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person having, carrying or procuring from another person any dirk, dirk-knife, sword, sword cane, pistol, gun or other deadly weapon, who, in the presence of two or more persons, draws or exhibits any of such deadly weapons in a rude, angry or threatening manner not in necessary self-defense, or who in any manner unlawfully uses that weapon in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

          2. A sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, constable or other peace officer shall not be held to answer, under the provisions of subsection 1, for drawing or exhibiting any of the weapons mentioned therein while in the lawful discharge of his or her duties.

  7. NRS 200.471(2)(b).
  8. NRS 202.265; NRS 202.350(i).
  9. NRS 202.350.
  10. Clark County Code 12.04.180.
  11. NRS 202.350.
  12. NRS 202.265.
  13. NRS 202.320.
  14. NRS 202.350.
  15. Clark County Code 12.04.180.
  16. NRS 202.265.
  17. NRS 202.320.
  18. See NRS 200.200.
  19. NRS 179.245.
  20. NRS 179.255.
  21. NRS 193.165.
  22. NRS 200.481.
  23. NRS 200.471.

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