Knife Laws

Know Your Knife Laws: New Jersey

ImageL Wikipedia

New Jersey was a central battle ground of the Revolutionary War. Once the Redcoats were gone and the new Constitution was submitted to the various States, the New Jersey assembly was third past the post in the race to ratify it, on December 18th, 1787. I guess this proves that New Jersey wasn’t always the dismal suburban nanny-state that most of it is today, but its knife laws still suck.

I’ll have to mention again that I’m not licensed to practice law in any state except Washington, and that none of this is meant to be relied on as legal advice. If you need to know what you can or can’t get away with under any state or local law, you’ll need to hit the law books yourself or call a lawyer in that state.

When you’re in New Jersey, Criminal Code section 2C:39-3(e) is where it all starts to go bad:

…Any person who knowingly has in his possession any gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sandclub, slingshot, cestus or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, ballistic knife, without any explainable lawful purpose, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

There are no explicit bans of fixed blades, assisted openers, lockbacks, one-hand openers, or concealed knife carry. Cesti were of course outlawed after the Great Pine Barrens Slingshot And Cestus Massacre Of 1931, making New Jersey a truly incestious state.

But I digress, because in New Jersey Criminal Code section 2C:39-5(d) takes NJ state law from incest to flat-out insanity: it’s so broad and so vague that it essentially criminalizes the carrying of ANY knife or weapon:

Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

As a lawyer I don’t understand how a statute like this hasn’t been struck down as unconstitutionally vague. There are published accounts of citizens being arrested for no other reason than having an ordinary pocketknife in their possession. With a law this broad, even a Leatherman tool or Victorinox might not have a ‘manifestly appropriate use’ under the circumstances of the moment when the cops start asking questions.

I didn’t even bother looking up whether New Jersey state law preempts local law, because it’s nearly impossible to get any worse than NJ state law anyway.

Conclusion: Everything is illegal there. Unless and until they bring their laws back in line with common sense and the U.S. constitution, avoid everything New Jersey.

I can’t wait until this series leaves the Northeast behind, and moves on to some states I could actually live in.

Tags:

Discussion

43 responses to ‘Know Your Knife Laws: New Jersey

  1. The RI statute is similar, but at least you get a pass on anything 3″ or under. Over that, and its another one of these “You better have a good reason for that, son.” situations.
    I agree. I don’t understand how the first judge that saw someone brought into a courtroom for violating one of them didn’t get the ball immediately rolling on removing it from the books.

    • RI does have a 3 inch rule, but it only applies to concealed knives. Switchblades and knives of any length that are carried openly are ok.

  2. If you’re going in order of entry into the Union, then Georgia should be next, and a welcome breath of fresh air unless I’m mistaken.

  3. Ah so the small folding box cutter key chain (attached to my work keys) I use in work is probably illegal? And I suppose bringing one of those nice mora fixed knives I was thinking about upgrading to, to work would be illegal as well?

  4. Nj sucks for fun,can’t have anything fun.no BBC guns ,no dirt bikes,no fire works,God forbid you carry knife,it like a f@$&ing police state.and they the worst offenders,I know I come from family full of cops .I grew up behind sean,their wives smoke pot ,drink&drink,eat pills and no what ever they want one little flash of a PAN card ,and off they go with a SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE MAN. so in short if you want to have fun NJ is not the place live. wish I could leave but I’m trapped unroll retire. So just stay where you are.the grass is not greener over on this side of the fence.

  5. Its funny cause I live in NJ and EDC a spyderco tenacious and a leatherman s2. I’d be screwed if I was ever searched and the cop felt like ruining my day. But hey at least this law is stopping murderers from carrying knives.

  6. I moved here a few months ago (the wife got a job here) and I knew what the state was like my wife didn’t believe me. Well now she does, crime as well as homless everywhere, firearms for criminals not much for it’s citizens. I do understand we can buy vests! I did have a CHL from Nebraska but had to send it back as I am now a NJ resident. Everyone here is right Jersey sucks. We are here for only 20 more months (minimum) then hopefully Texas or AZ!

  7. I’ve lived in NJ my whole life unfortunately. I’ve also managed to find my fair share of trouble over the years. I’ve collected knives since I was a kid. I can still remember getting my very first one handed down to me as a 10yr old boy. It was passed down to me from my dad. As I read in the comments above, NJ isn’t a state to go if you want to live like a real boy/man. The laws concerning stuff I construe as fun and wild, are used against our citizens in many a vague, often unexplainable way. I’ll never forget the first time being stopped by the police as a juvenile and having the knife my dad had given me taken away with no real explanation. As far as I’m concerned, that fairly expensive knife is now sitting in the pocket of that officer or perhaps sitting on a shelf in his own sons room. It wouldn’t be the last time a knife was taken from me, and it probably won’t be the last. What bothers me is that it was taken from me, because I was just doing what boys do. Playing in some nearby woods, building a tree house with a friend (oh, the cop told us that was illegal to). Until someone with deep pockets fights the laws (or lack of one), this kinda crap will continue to plague us. Nothing worse then having something meaningful, or that you paid some hard earned money for taken away, with no good cause or explanation. By the way, I was never charged in any of the 3 times I’ve had a knife taken away from me. I still carry one, because they come in handy. Its been a second nature for most of my 50 yrs now to clip a knife in my pocket, or in a belt sheath. Same as I grab my keys or wallet before leaving the house, I instinctively grab a knife. I guess boys can’t be boys here in NJ. Hopefully one day this state and this country will make things right.

  8. Real men in NJ don’t need to carry weapons. Unlike all you cunts. Bunch of sissy dick suckers you are. Best you all move back in with your Mommies.

    • LOL, Real men don’t carry weapons? So I guess soldiers aren’t “Real Men”.
      You should come to Pennsauken or Camden and try to “Talk things out” when the crackheads try to rob you.

    • It’s not that anyone needs a weapon, asshole. A knife is a tool, and is very useful, unlike yourself. I mean you’re a tool obviously, but I’m sure you’re not very useful.

  9. NJ Man, ya you. I’ll bet you wouldn’t say that to my face. Punk. Wouldn’t even put down your name because your the pussy twat who’s afraid to use your name. I’ll leave it at that. Douche bag.

  10. I was arrested & charged with carrying a pocket knife for unlawful purpose in wildwood, nj. I’ve had nj state police & middle twsp. Police verify my pocket knife is legal for me to carry since I’m 37 & the blade is smaller than my hand. Wildwood police say that’s a myth. Would i have a Civil lawsuit against middle twsp. & nj state police for saying its ok for me to carry it? It has a pocket clip on it making it visible the state police said as long as that clip is visible I’m ok. If i drop it in my pocket its considered carrying a concealed weapon. Wildwood police said the court will more than likely drop it but I’ll still have to pay court costs. Can i challenge the state vs. Middle twsp. Vs wildwood police. In a lawsuit for unlawful arrest, detaining for over an hour, leaving me handcuffed to a wall with blood splatter on the wall that’s not protecting me against bloodeborne pathogens. Wildwood pd said that’s a myth why would the nj state police & middle township police verify its ok ti carry if its not? & the wildwood cop assumed its for self defense. I asked if someone pulls a gun what am i supposed to do? He said dial 911 ok pull your gun wait a minute while I call 911. Ppl with a gun will not give you that chance. And how do they automatically assume its for self defense? I could use it for cutting rope, fishing line, carpet,vinyl etc.. never assume it’ll make an ass outta you m… e…

  11. I travel to NJ every year (fly in to liberty) I always carry a Leatherman wave. goes in my checked luggage. as soon as I grab my bag at liberty, it goes in to my pocket (with pocket clip) hangs out there all week. so far no problems in the past 10 years. but I only spend a week or so a year there.

  12. I keep my deer knife (4″ blade, lockblade) in my golf bag … I’ve had a run in with a large dog on golf courses & wish I had it with me, so I feel better having it in there. I live in PA, but play golf in NJ frequently … just curious if I’d be in a world of $hit if they found that large locking knife in my bag in NJ ?

    • To quote Chris:

      There are no explicit bans of fixed blades, assisted openers, lockbacks, one-hand openers, or concealed knife carry. Cesti were of course outlawed after the Great Pine Barrens Slingshot And Cestus Massacre Of 1931, making New Jersey a truly incestious state.

      But I digress, because in New Jersey Criminal Code section 2C:39-5(d) takes NJ state law from incest to flat-out insanity: it’s so broad and so vague that it essentially criminalizes the carrying of ANY knife or weapon:
      Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

      As a lawyer I don’t understand how a statute like this hasn’t been struck down as unconstitutionally vague. There are published accounts of citizens being arrested for no other reason than having an ordinary pocketknife in their possession. With a law this broad, even a Leatherman tool or Victorinox might not have a ‘manifestly appropriate use’ under the circumstances of the moment when the cops start asking questions.

      _______________________________________________
      I am not a lawyer, and am really uncomfortable offering advice on states like NJ. I would avoid anything remotely questionable. Out of curiosity, why not opt for a golf club on a course against a dog. Much better reach.

  13. Thanks very much for taking the time to reply. And agree, a golf club might be a better option anyways. As a side note, I’ve googled for the past half hour & can’t find any reference to the Great Pine Barrens Slingshot And Cestus Massacre Of 1931. Can you share anything on this event, I’m curious …. thank you

    • Not surprising as the liberal media has been determined to cover up their complicity in the sordid affair. Some say it was an inside job, orchestrated by President Hoover in order to gin up support for an Assault Slingshot Ban. To this day, no one knows for sure where the rogue actor armed with the cestus came from.

      • “assault slingshot ban” … ok gotcha – I’ve been punked. I’m new here – don’t know the characters & sense of humor. No wonder I couldn’t find anything on the Great Pine Barrens Slingshot and Cestus Massacre of 1931 – the way you quoted a specific year, seemed like it could have somehow remotely been based in fact.

  14. This article is utter BS. NJ actually has some lenient knife laws compared to it’s neighbors. If you have a lawful and useful purpose to carry a knife it’s basically legal. Self defense is not a “lawful” reason to have a knife in NJ, but cutting cardboard, string, prying crates, etc, is entirely legal. There is no reason to carry a 12″ bowie around the grocery store, but if you’re out hunting you won’t have any trouble. Likewise with folders, there’s no need for a 6″ blade for everyday tasks, the 4″ NJ allows is plenty of steel for your day at the office. If you do need to use it for defense that extra 2″ won’t make much of a difference.

    Basic rule of thumb: If you are a dick to a cop be prepared to have your day ruined, if you’re polite to a cop you’re not going to have any issues.

    • I guess that means my leatherman wave is just fine… I’ve carried it on every trip to NJ, and not for defensive reasons.. but I like being able to open boxes, cut string, unscrew stuff.. grab stuff with pliers, etc. – Never had a problem with it.

      I have also never had any interactions with law enforcement other than port authority at Liberty knocking on my window telling me to move my car at the curb. (just dropped somebody off. really quick even) – I moved… so I guess I didn’t make them mad.

  15. So let’s say you collect knives and they don’t leave your house let’s say a dagger “which there’s no real legal definition of a dagger other the it’s pointed with a sharpened edge” sense it doesn’t leave your home and will be in a case is collecting a lawful reason

  16. I’m sorry, this entire web page is absolutely wrong. It ignores that the state has to PROVE that your knife was NOT manifestly appropriate beyond a reasonable doubt. It also ignores key case law like State v. Blaine where the court explicitly established that a folding knife possessed without other incriminating factors is 100% legal. I emailed the editor to this web site in November and no changes were made.

    If you want to understand NJ law, take Evan Nappen’s firearms law class. He goes into depth on knife law as well.

  17. Hey, I’m planning on purchasing a Spyderco Native 5 Lightweight. The blade is under 3 inches. I believe its 2.95 or 2.97 inches. It is a back lock, no spring assistance or anything. Will this be legal to carry in NJ? Thank you so much

    • Yes, under NJ case law you should be completely fine. The State v. Blaine decision makes knives that are typically carried legal absent other “incriminating” factors (such as hiding it in your sock, etc.)

    • It really depends on the officer and circumstances. It could be something as silly as the way you look, dress and present yourself. If you are straight with most officers and your reasons for possessing it are legit, you might be free to go. You get pulled over and if the cop asks if you have any weapons, politely say no, but I have a knife I use for cutting boxes, so on so forth. Don’t ever agree it’s a weapon. There’s crooked cops however that thrive off pushing individuals around because their power hungry and have self esteem issues. If you carry expensive knives, getting one taken hurts. Especially if your minding your business in your everyday routine.

      • Marc, why would you lie to the cop? A knife is a weapon under NJ law. Your refusal to agree to that doesn’t make it less so, no matter what your intended use for it is. The question isn’t whether or not its a knife, but whether or not your possession of it is legal — “manifestly appropriate” as 2c:39-5 puts it. And as per the State v. Blaine court decision, knives are de facto manifestly appropriate unless specific other incriminating factors are at play.

        If you carry an expensive knife and it gets taken by a cop, but you are not arrested, I would hope you would file a complaint against that cop with the local court for theft, because that’s exactly what that officer just did. If you do get arrested, any judge will dismiss the complaint when presented with the case law.

        • That’s not lying. If you say you have a knife, and explain why your carrying it, (cutting boxes etc) or whatever your reasons are for carrying it, how’s that a lie?

  18. all i can say NEW JERSEY sucks if you want to follow the second amendment gun laws make no sense knife laws as i am seeing for the first time maybe and probably my fault did not know having a leatherman or any other pocket knife i use for work i am a criminal wtf i am a 50 year old man raising 2 kids know i am considered a criminal in nj wow to me UNITED STATES means same tax same gun laws same rights in all states or none OUR country was built on the 2nd amendment

    • Robert, a leatherman or ordinary pocket knife is not illegal in NJ unless you were committing a crime when you possessed it. Please reach out to Knife Rights and Evan Nappen to get assistance fighting these charges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *