"Switchblade" knives in Nevada law


Switchblades are generally legal to possess under Nevada state knife laws, but local governments often restrict the length of the blade and where switchblades may be carried. Additionally, it is illegal throughout the state either to:

  1. carry a concealed knife without a CCW permit in Nevada (NRS 202.350);
  2. carry a knife on school property in Nevada (NRS 202.265); or
  3. draw a knife in a threatening manner in Nevada (NRS 202.320)

Penalties for carrying or brandishing a switchblade in an unlawful way depend on the specific offense:

 Nevada switchblade crime

 Penalties

Carrying a knife with no CCW permit (NRS 202.350)

Category C felony in Nevada:

Bringing a knife to school property (NRS 202.265)

Gross misdemeanor in Nevada:

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

Brandishing a knife threateningly (NRS 202.320)

Misdemeanor in Nevada:

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

It is also a misdemeanor carrying fines and/or jail time to carry knives in violation of city- or county-wide ordinances.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss Nevada switchblade laws. Scroll down or click on a topic below to jump to that section:

knife
Switchblades are generally legal in Nevada, though they may be illegal to carry in unincorporated Clark County.

1. Definition of switchblade knives in Nevada

Nevada's legal definition of a “switchblade” under NRS 202.265 is a knife with the following two attributes:

  1. The blade is at least two (2) inches long (the “blade” is the portion from the top to the tang or unsharpened extension of the blade which hinges to the handle); and
  2. The blade can be automatically released by a button, pressure on the handle, or other mechanism

Other names for switchblades are “snap-blade knives” and “spring-blade knives.” Automatic knives with blade lengths of less than two (2) inches are not switchblades.1

2. Open carry of switchblades in Nevada

Nevada state law generally allows people to openly carry switchblade knives except on school or child care property or vehicles. (It is also illegal to carry concealed switchblades in school or child care property for vehicles.) Scroll down to section 4 for more information on this restriction.

In addition, Nevada's city and county governments have their own local laws regulating switchblades. For instance, the open carry of switchblades appears to be illegal on sidewalks in unincorporated Clark County.2

Before traveling to a new location, always check the local municipal and county codes in Nevada. Scroll down to sections 5 and 6 for local Las Vegas and Clark County knife laws.

3. Concealed carry of switchblades in Nevada

NRS 202.350 requires people to have a current and valid CCW (carrying concealed weapons) permit in order to carry a concealed "dangerous or deadly weapon" in Nevada.3 Presumably, "dangerous or deadly weapon" encompasses switchblades:

  • "Deadly weapons" are defined in NRS 193.165 as a weapon specifically described in NRS 202.265. In turn, NRS 202.265 explicitly forbids switchblades.4
  • "Dangerous weapons" are defined in NRS 392.466 as including switchblade knives.5

CCW permits are issued by county sheriffs. People wishing to carry concealed switchblades should contact their local sheriff in Nevada for instructions on how to apply for a permit. For general information, refer to our article on how to apply for a CCW permit in Nevada.

3.1. Penalties for carrying a switchblade without a CCW permit in Nevada

Carrying a switchblade concealed in Nevada without having a current and valid CCW permit is a category C felony under NRS 202.350. The punishment is:

  • one to five (1 - 5) years in prison, and
  • up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge's discretion)6
knife
Violating NRS 202.350 is a category C felony in Nevada.

But it may be possible to get the charge dismissed if the police found the switchblade pursuant to an illegal search in Nevada. If the judge grants the defendant's Nevada motion to suppress the state's evidence due to the illegal search, the D.A. may be left with too weak a case to prosecute.

Remember that it is always illegal to carry switchblades on school property, openly or concealed.

Also see our related article on Nevada laws for carrying a concealed machete (NRS 202.350).

4. Carrying switchblades at schools in Nevada

NRS 202.265 specifically forbids people from taking a switchblade to any of the following three types of locations in Nevada:

  1. property of the Nevada System of Higher Education,
  2. property or vehicle of a private or public school, or
  3. property or vehicle of a child care facility

However, there is an exception when the knife-carrier gets prior written permission from either:

  • the president of a branch or facility of the college or university,
  • the principal of the school, or
  • the person designated by a child care facility to give permission to carry or possess a weapon

Note that people who own or operate child care facilities in their homes may possess a switchblade there as long as they live in their home.7

4.1. Penalties for carrying a switchblade knife on school or child care property in Nevada

NRS 202.265 makes carrying a switchblade on school or child care property a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines.8

Pupils who bring switchblades to school face non-criminal penalties as well: A first-time offense carries an expulsion of at least one year; a second-time offense carries permanent expulsion.9

5. Drawing a switchblade in a threatening manner in Nevada

NRS 202.320 makes it a misdemeanor to brandish or exhibit a deadly weapon -- including a switchblade -- in a rude, angry, or threatening manner in front of at least two other people. Penalties include:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

Note that defendants may be able to get the charges dropped if they were using the weapon only to defend themselves. Learn more about Nevada self-defense laws.10

6. Las Vegas switchblade laws

The Las Vegas Municipal Code (LVMC) applies to the incorporated city of Las Vegas. It includes downtown but not the Strip.

LVMC 10.88.010 makes it a misdemeanor to carry a switchblade within 25 feet of any:

  • demonstration,
  • rally,
  • protest,
  • picket line, or
  • public assembly

It makes no difference if the event is on public property, a public street, or a public sidewalk. The maximum punishment is six (6) months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.11

7. Clark County switchblade laws

knives
Local governments have their own knife laws.

The Clark County Code (CCC) applies to the unincorporated areas of Clark County, such as Paradise and Spring Valley. Any CCC violation is a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum of six (6) months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

7.1. Open carry

CCC 14.42.056 appears to prohibit the open carry of any knife with a blade longer than three (3) inches on public sidewalks or public pedestrian easements. As discussed directly below, concealed carry of certain knives is allowed with the sheriff's permission.12

7.2. Concealed carry

CCC 12.04.180 prohibits carrying a concealed knife with a blade at least three (3) inches long without having written permission from the sheriff.

This law is technically redundant since NRS 202.350 already prohibits carrying concealed knives without a permit. Still, anyone considering carrying a switchblade in Clark County should contact the Clark County Sheriff for the most current rules and procedures for acquiring written permission.13

7.3. Public protests

CCC 12.30.010 prohibits carrying a switchblade within 25 feet of any:

  • demonstration,
  • rally,
  • protest,
  • picket line, or
  • public assembly

It makes no difference if the event is on public property, a public street, or a public sidewalk.14

8. Deportation for illegally carrying a switchblade

It is unclear whether illegally carrying or brandishing a switchblade is ultimately deportable. Therefore, any non-U.S. citizen who has been charged with violating NRS 202.350, NRS 202.265, or NRS 202.320 is urged to consult an attorney.

The attorney will be able to talk with prosecutors to learn whether the government is pursuing deportation. And if so, the attorney may be able to negotiate a Nevada plea bargain where the charges get dismissed or reduced to non-removal crimes. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

9. Nevada record seals for illegally carrying a switchblade

People convicted of a knife offense in Nevada can usually get their criminal records sealed after a predetermined wait time. The length of this waiting period depends on the category of crime the person was convicted of:

 Nevada switchblade conviction

 Waiting period to get a record seal in Nevada

Misdemeanor (such as brandishing a switchblade in violation of NRS 202.320)

 1 year after the case ends

Gross misdemeanor (such as bringing a switchblade to a school in violation of NRS 202.265)

 2 years after the case ends

Category C felony (such as carrying a concealed switchblade with no permit in violation of NRS 202.350)

 5 years after the case ends15

Note that there is no waiting period to ask the court for a record seal whenever the criminal charges get dismissed.16 Learn more about how to get a record seal in Nevada.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

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

Also see our related article, Are butterfly knives legal in Nevada?

Arrested in California? Go to our article on Penal Code 21510 PC | Possession of a switchblade in California. Arrested in Colorado? Go to our article on switchblade laws in Colorado


Legal References

  1. NRS 202.265 ...

    "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;

    See also Bradvica v. State, 104 Nev. 475, 760 P.2d 139 (1988)("Measuring under 2 inches, the knife was not a switchblade as defined by the legislature.").
  2. NRS 202.265; Clark County Code 14.42.056.
  3. 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:

          (a) Manufacture or cause to be manufactured, or import into the State, or keep, offer or expose for sale, or give, lend or possess any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sand-club, sandbag or metal knuckles;

          (b) Manufacture or cause to be manufactured, or import into the State, or keep, offer or expose for sale, or give, lend, possess or use a machine gun or a silencer, unless authorized by federal law;

          (c) With the intent to inflict harm upon the person of another, possess or use a nunchaku or trefoil; or

          (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) of subsection 1 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) of subsection 1 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. NRS 193.165  Additional penalty: Use of deadly weapon or tear gas in commission of crime; restriction on probation.

     ...

          6.  As used in this section, “deadly weapon” means:

    ...

          (c) A dangerous or deadly weapon specifically described in NRS 202.255, 202.265, 202.290, 202.320 or 202.350.
  5. NRS 392.466  Suspension or expulsion of pupil for battery on employee of school, possession of firearm or dangerous weapon, sale or distribution of controlled substance or status as habitual disciplinary problem; modification to suspension or expulsion requirement; limitations for pupils with disabilities.

    ...

          9.  As used in this section:

    ...

          (b) “Dangerous weapon” includes, without limitation, a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sand-club, sandbag, metal knuckles, dirk or dagger, a nunchaku or trefoil, as defined in NRS 202.350, a butterfly knife or any other knife described in NRS 202.350, a switchblade knife as defined in NRS 202.265, or any other object which is used, or threatened to be used, in such a manner and under such circumstances as to pose a threat of, or cause, bodily injury to a person.

  6. Id.
  7. 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;

          ...

          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:

          ...

          (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.

          ...
  8. Id.
  9. NRS 392.466  Suspension or expulsion of pupil for battery on employee of school, possession of firearm or dangerous weapon, sale or distribution of controlled substance or status as habitual disciplinary problem; modification to suspension or expulsion requirement; limitations for pupils with disabilities.

          1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, any pupil who commits a battery which results in the bodily injury of an employee of the school or who sells or distributes any controlled substance while on the premises of any public school, at an activity sponsored by a public school or on any school bus must, for the first occurrence, be suspended or expelled from that school, although the pupil may be placed in another kind of school, for at least a period equal to one semester for that school. For a second occurrence, the pupil must be permanently expelled from that school and:

          (a) Enroll in a private school pursuant to chapter 394 of NRS, become an opt-in child or be homeschooled; or

          (b) Enroll in a program of independent study provided pursuant to NRS 389.155 for pupils who have been suspended or expelled from public school or a program of distance education provided pursuant to NRS 388.820 to 388.874, inclusive, if the pupil qualifies for enrollment and is accepted for enrollment in accordance with the requirements of the applicable program.

          2.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, any pupil who is found in possession of a firearm or a dangerous weapon while on the premises of any public school, at an activity sponsored by a public school or on any school bus must, for the first occurrence, be expelled from the school for a period of not less than 1 year, although the pupil may be placed in another kind of school for a period not to exceed the period of the expulsion. For a second occurrence, the pupil must be permanently expelled from the school and:

          (a) Enroll in a private school pursuant to chapter 394 of NRS, become an opt-in child or be homeschooled; or

          (b) Enroll in a program of independent study provided pursuant to NRS 389.155 for pupils who have been suspended or expelled from public school or a program of distance education provided pursuant to NRS 388.820 to 388.874, inclusive, if the pupil qualifies for enrollment and is accepted for enrollment in accordance with the requirements of the applicable program.

    ...     

    9.  As used in this section: ...

          (b) “Dangerous weapon” includes, without limitation, a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sand-club, sandbag, metal knuckles, dirk or dagger, a nunchaku or trefoil, as defined in NRS 202.350, a butterfly knife or any other knife described in NRS 202.350, a switchblade knife as defined in NRS 202.265, or any other object which is used, or threatened to be used, in such a manner and under such circumstances as to pose a threat of, or cause, bodily injury to a person.
  10.  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.
  11. Las Vegas Municipal Code 10.88.010 - Regulations.

    (A) No person shall carry or possess the following items or articles while attending or participating in any demonstration, rally, protest, picket line or public assembly on public property, a public street, a public sidewalk, or within twenty-five feet of such property:

    ...

    (6) Weapons such as toy or replica firearms unless such toy is fluorescent colored or transparent; knives (except for a folding knife with a blade of three inches or less); swords, sabers, or other bladed devices; axes, hatchets, ice picks, razor blades, nunchucks or martial arts weapons of any kind; box cutters, pellet or BB guns; conducted electrical weapons including but not limited to Tasers or stun guns; metal/composite/wooden knuckles; or any chain greater than twenty inches in length or one-quarter-inch in diameter....
  12. Clark County Code 14.42.056 - Swords, knives, toy or replica firearms, etc.

    It shall be unlawful, except as otherwise expressly allowed by state law or county code, for any person to use or display on any public sidewalk or public pedestrian easement in the restricted area any sword or knife, or bladed edge with a blade longer than three inches, bow and arrows, crossbows, devices emitting flames of three inches or higher, or any toy, imitation, or replica firearm which substantially duplicates and can reasonably be perceived to be an actual operable firearm, as "firearm" is defined in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 202.
  13. 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.
  14. Clark County Code 12.30.010 - Regulating the possession of certain items at public protests, demonstrations, rallies, picket lines and public assemblies

    (a) No person shall carry or possess the following items or articles while attending or participating in any demonstration, rally, protest, picket line or public assembly on public property, public street, or public sidewalk, or within 25 feet of such property:

    ...

    (6) Weapons such as toy or replica firearms unless such toy is florescent colored or transparent, knives except for a folding knife with a blade of 3 inches or less, swords, sabers, or other bladed devices, axes, hatchets, ice picks, razor blades, nunchucks or martial arts weapons of any kind, box cutters, pellet or BB guns, conducted electrical weapons including, but not limited to, Tasers or stun guns, metal/composite/wooden knuckles, or any chain greater than twenty inches in length or one quarter inch in diameter.
  15. NRS 179.245.
  16. NRS 179.255.

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