Knife Rights’ WARNING on Self-Defense Claims!
REMAIN SILENT is the best defense against prosecution! We strongly urge you to review our “If Stopped or Arrested” page.
Having said that, we get lots of calls and emails from individuals arrested for carrying a knife. Understandably, these folks are generally outraged over their arrest. It’s not unusual for them to launch into a “defense” that covers a wide range of what they view as unconstitutional actions by law enforcement during the arrest. It’s also not unusual that they have asserted a right to carry for self-defense in the process of the arrest.
When the cop asked, “why are you carrying this knife?” they claimed it’s for self-defense. In most cases, that’s an invitation to arrest. It matters not that one might argue that you have a constitutional right to do so, nay, even a basic human right, the fact is that in many places in the U.S., and especially in major metropolitan areas, that is not a recognized right. Worse, it may be prohibited by perverse interpretations of law.
Many state and local regulations prohibit carry of a knife, or any weapon, with “intent to do harm,” or some similar restriction. “Intent” requirements in criminal law are typically designed to dissuade law enforcement and prosecutors from harassing honest folks and protect them by making it difficult to prove criminality on their part, absent an actual crime. However, in this case, they twist the “intent” portion with an absurd interpretation of the law, treating an admission of carrying for self-defense as carry with intent to do harm and thereby illegal. It also serves to prove you recognize the knife is carried as a weapon and not as a tool.
It doesn’t matter how much that offends you, asserting that right on the street is a pretty reliable way to find yourself arrested, particularly in a major city. After that, it starts to get very expensive. We may be able to refer you to a good attorney, but their not-insubstantial bill is going to be on you. And, you have made it far more difficult for any attorney to defend you.
Worse, if it goes very bad for you, it can become a life-changing event that could harm you for the rest of your life.
If for some inexplicable reason you decide not to REMAIN SILENT, we strongly suggest you never claim to carry a knife for self-defense when accosted by law enforcement. Remaining SILENT is a far better strategy.
Knife Rights cannot provide legal advice and this information on this page is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult an attorney for legal advice.