In Kentucky, there are two types of knives: those that are considered deadly weapons, and those that are not. As a general rule, as long as a knife is not a deadly weapon, a person can carry it openly or wear it concealed on their body in Kentucky. But if it is deemed a deadly weapon, there are strict rules about how an individual can carry it.
Compared to other states, Kentucky has relatively open laws when it comes to knives. However, anyone who owns or plans to own a knife in Kentucky should be aware of these laws so that they do not run afoul of them. Learn more below from an experienced Lexington criminal defense lawyer.
Knives that Can Be Carried Openly in Kentucky
In Kentucky, any knife can be carried openly. Minors (anyone under the age of 18) are similarly permitted to possess and carry knifes, provided that they do not violate another law in doing so.
However, there is one important exception to this rule. It is a Class D felony to either open or conceal carry a knife that is considered a deadly weapon on school property. Under this law, if a person is deposits, possesses, or carries a deadly weapon in any public or private school campus or property, they could be charged with a crime.
There are no illegal knife types under the law, so as long as a knife is carried openly, it is legal to wear it. Legal knives in Kentucky include:
- Automatic knives
- Ballistic knives
- Dirks, daggers and other stabbing knives
- Disguised knives, including belt and cane knives
- Bowie knives
- Balisong knives
- Undetectable knives
Kentucky does not ban any type of knife.
Knives that Can Be Worn Openly or Concealed in Kentucky
In Kentucky, a knife that is considered a “deadly weapon” (as defined below) cannot be concealed without a permit. The process for obtaining a permit to carry one of these knives is the same as for a firearm. A concealed carry permit in Kentucky can be used for both firearms and other deadly weapons, including knives.
Generally, any knife other than a pocket or hunting knife is a deadly weapon under Kentucky law. If a person wishes to conceal carry any type of knife other than a pocket or hunting knife (neither of which is defined under Kentucky law), then he or she will need a permit to do so. For most of the knives listed above, a permit will be needed to conceal them on or about your body.
There is an exception to the requirement that a person needs a permit to have a concealed deadly weapon if he or she keeps their knife in a vehicle. If a knife is kept in an enclosed container, compartment or storage space installed as original equipment in a vehicle, a permit is not necessary, even if the unit is not locked. This may include storing the knife in a glove compartment, console, or seat pocket.
When Are Knives Considered Deadly Weapons in Kentucky?
Under Kentucky law, a deadly weapon can include a number of instruments, including a gun, a weapon of mass destruction, a nightstick — and in some cases, a knife. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes §500.080(4), a deadly weapon includes any knife except an ordinary pocket knife or a hunting knife. According to the Kentucky Supreme Court, a deadly weapon is one that was designed for a single purpose: to be a weapon.
Even if a knife is not considered to be a deadly weapon, it may be considered a “dangerous instrument.” Under the same statute, a “dangerous instrument” is any instrument — including parts of the body — article, or substance that is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances under which it is used. Ordinary pocket knives and hunting knives may be considered dangerous instruments under Kentucky law.
The question of whether a knife is a deadly weapon is an important one, because if certain crimes are committed using a deadly weapon, then the gravity of the crime is increased. This includes crimes such as assault, burglary, and robbery.
For example, if a person causes serious physical injury to another person, he may be charged with Assault in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony. However, if a deadly weapon is used, the charge could be elevated to Assault in the First Degree, a Class B Felony. Assault in the Second Degree is punishable by between 5 and 10 years in prison, while Assault in the First Degree is punishable by between 10 and 20 years in prison — a significant difference.
Legal Defenses to Kentucky Knife Charges
There are a number of potential legal and factual defenses to a charge of violating Kentucky’s knife laws. Generally, a violation related to the possession of a knife will involve an allegation that the knife was a deadly weapon, either used in the commission of a crime or concealed without a permit. A legal defense will likely focus on how the knife was not actually a deadly weapon under the law.
The key factor that Kentucky courts will look to when determining if a knife is a deadly weapon is whether its sole purpose is as a weapon. A skilled attorney can put together an argument to show that a knife was or could be used for other purposes, such as in hunting or fishing. If a knife was not exclusively used as a weapon, then it isn’t a deadly weapon under Kentucky law — and a charge could be reduced as a result.
Similarly, if a knife is not a deadly weapon, then it can either be worn openly or concealed without a permit. If you are charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon without a permit, your attorney could make an argument that the knife is not a deadly weapon — and that no permit was needed under the law. If the facts support this contention, then the charge may be dismissed.
Work with a Lexington Criminal Defense Lawyer
Kentucky has far more lax knife laws than many other states, and permits the possession of many types of knives that are banned elsewhere. This does not mean that Kentucky does not regulate the possession and carrying of knives. Failure to follow the law in this regard can result in criminal charges if your knife is considered a deadly weapon.
Based in Lexington, Baldani Law Group aggressively advocates for clients throughout Kentucky. We stand by your side throughout the process, and work hard to achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Lexington criminal defense lawyer, call our office today at 859-259-0727 or contact us online anytime.