Nevada Knife Laws for "Switchblades"
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers


The legal definition of a “switchblade” in Nevada is a knife with the following two attributes:

  1. The blade is at least 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.” A blade must be at least 2 inches long to qualify as a switchblade.

It is unlawful for a person to possess or carry a switchblade 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. But switchblades may be possessed by peace officers, school security guards, or 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. A person whose home is a child care facility can also possess a switchblade.


A possible defense to Nevada switchblade charges is that the knife was not actually a switchblade.

The following are some potential strategies to fight Nevada charges of possessing a switchblade:

Not a switchblade.  One defense to these charges is that the weapon in question is not, in fact, a switchblade.  Many pocketknives are mistaken for switchblades but do not meet the blade's 2-inch length requirement. The Nevada Supreme Court once overturned a conviction for wrongful switchblade possession because the blade of the defendant's knife was too short.11

Note that in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas, it is illegal under city codes to carry a switchblade of any length, even if it is less then 2 inches.12

No knowledge of possession.  A defendant should not be convicted of possessing a switchblade if he/she honestly did not know the switchblade was there. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Mike in Las Vegas keeps a switchblade in his jacket.  He then lends the jacket to his friend Max but forgets to take the knife out when he goes to UNLV. At school the switchblade sets off the metal detector.  The Las Vegas Metro Police arrest Max and book him at Clark County Detention Center for possessing a switchblade.  If the prosecution cannot show beyond a reasonable doubt that Max knew the switchblade was in the pocket, the charge should be dropped.

Illegal search.  Police are required to abide by the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.13 If the police may have found a switchblade through an illegal search, the defendant may have legal recourse: The defense attorney would file a Nevada motion to suppress evidence explaining how the cops conducted an unlawful search.  If the judge agrees, he/she may exclude the switchblade as evidence.  The prosecution may then elect to dismiss the charge if there is not enough left to sustain a conviction. Learn more about Nevada search and seizure laws.

Note that it is usually not a defense that the defendant possessed the switchblade for self-defense reasons.  Learn more about Nevada self-defense laws.


Possessing or carrying a switchblade at a school is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes:

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

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

Call us at 702-DEFENSE

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.

To learn about carrying a switchblade in California, go to our informational articles on Penal Code 21510 PC | Possession of a switchblade in California. For Colorado cases, please visit our page on switchblade laws in Colorado

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