Carlson Knives Logo
Menu

Virginia

Virginia knife laws are some of the most confusing laws in the United States. Let's take a look at what they are and how you can be charged under Virginia knife laws.

Virginia Knife Laws Quick Look

Preemption? No.

Concealed carry? Unlawful to conceal carry some types of knives.

Open carry? Legal

Schools? Prohibited on school property but not otherwise.

Off-limits places:

  • Schools.
  • State laws.
  • Airport terminals.
  • National parks and forests.
  • U.S. military installations

Length & critical dimensions: Only knives with blade length less than 3 inches are allowed on school premises.

Legal Types of Knives In Virginia

The types of knives legal in Virginia include the following:

  • Dirk
  • Dagger
  • Stabbing knives
  • Bowie knives
  • Switchblades
  • Automatic Knives
  • Ballistic knives
  • Gravity knives
  • Balisong Knives
  • Butterfly Knives
  • Stiletto

Illegal Types of Knives in Virginia

There are no illegal knives in Virginia

Virginia Knife Ownership Law

You must be at least 16 years old to purchase a knife in Virginia. It is also unlawful for anyone under 18 to carry a concealed weapon, which includes a knife. You can get a license to carry concealed weapons at the age of 18.

Virginia Knife-Carrying Law

Some of the gun carry laws in Virginia include the following:

Virginia Knife Open Carry Laws

You can openly carry any type of knife the law does not prohibit, which includes switchblades.

Virginia Knife Concealed Carry Laws

It is unlawful to carry any concealed weapon, including knives. Concealed weapons include most folding knives with a blade longer than 3 inches.

Other types of prohibited knives for concealed carry are:

  • Dirks, daggers, or any stabbing knives
  • Balisongs, or butterfly knives
  • Gravity knives

Virginia Laws for Different Types of Knives

Different knife laws in Virginia include the following:

Virginia Automatic Knife Law

In Virginia, automatic knives are defined as any type of knife that has a spring-loaded blade which is released by activation, which is covered under Virginia Code Section 18.2-311 (A).

Virginia Butterfly Knife Laws

In Virginia, the term "butterfly knives" is not given any name or definition in the state's code section 18.2-308. However, it is clearly illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia.

Virginia Bowie Knife Laws

Bowie knives are legal to own and open carry in Virginia, but it is illegal to conceal any type of knife or blade over 3 inches. In Virginia under Code Section 18.2-311 (A) and (C), it is unlawful for anyone, including students, to carry a concealed weapon on school property.

Virginia Other Prohibited Knives Laws

A number of other types of knives are also unlawful in Virginia under Code Section 18.2-308 including dirks and daggers, ballistic knives, gravity knives, switchblades, or automatic knives. Virginia Code Section 18.2 – 311 (F) also makes it illegal for civilians to carry a concealed weapon, which includes knives.

Virginia Knife Law by Size

It is legal to own any type of knife in Virginia as long as its blade length is less than 3 inches. It is legal to openly carry any type of knife of this length.

Relevant Virginia Knife Law Statutes & Penal Codes

Virginia knife laws and penal codes include the following:

  • Code Section 18.2-308.01: Possession or transport of firearms by persons ineligible to possess weapons.
  • Code Section 18.2-308.1, et seq.: Carrying concealed weapons.
  • Code Section 18.2-308 (J): Concealed weapons; wearing or carrying; penalty.
  • Code Section 18.2-308 (F): Carrying concealed weapons; penalty.
  • Code Section 18.2-308 (D): Openly carrying certain weapons; possession of a concealed handgun while lawfully transporting person or property, exceptions; penalty.
  • Code Section 18.2-308 (A): Carrying a concealed weapon; possession of a handgun while in a vehicle or on-premises; penalty.

Virginia Knife Offenses, Defenses, Restrictions & Penalties

They include:

Legal Defenses for Knife Charges

In Virginia, legal defenses for knife charges may be related to the following:

  • The accused did not know he possessed a prohibited weapon.
  • The knife in the possession of the accused is a legal, non-prohibited type of knife.
  • The offense occurred outside of a school or court facility and was not concealed on the person's body.

Exceptions for Law Enforcement and Military Personnel

It is not illegal for law enforcement or military personnel to conceal or hide a weapon. A concealed weapon found on an officer can be confiscated, but it cannot be used against the officer in court for prosecution purposes. Also, law enforcement will not charge an officer for carrying a concealed weapon, and will not retrieve a weapon from the officer, unless it is suspected that the law has been violated.

Restrictions

  • It is a prohibition to possess a knife that is over 3 inches long concealed on a person's body, or in any "recessed driveway."
  • It is also illegal to carry a knife without the appropriate license and to conceal such a weapon from view.
  • It is a prohibition to possess a knife on Government premises.
  • It is a prohibition to possess a knife on school property.
  • It is a prohibition to possess a knife while committing or attempting to commit a crime.
  • It is a prohibition to possess a knife on private property unless the owner gives written consent.

Penalties for Knife Related Offenses

A violation of the provisions of Virginia laws and knife offenses related to Code Section 18.2-308 (J) is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine, but only if no one was injured during the commission of the crime. If someone was hurt or injured, then the crime becomes a Class 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $2500 fine.

Unlawful possession or concealment of a knife is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Transporting an unlawful knife as defined under Code Section 18.2-308 (F) is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine.

Carrying an unlawful knife on school property is a Class 1 misdemeanor, but if the weapon becomes visible during the commission of an unarmed assault it escalates to a felony conviction.

Using any type of knife for the purpose of fighting, even if it is not a weapon legally defined as a dangerous or deadly weapon, is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Violating the clause on knives carried outside of vehicles under Code Section 18.2-308 (A) is punishable by up to 90 days jail and/or a $500 fine.

In Virginia, there is a 50% chance that your knife charge will become a felony if you are carrying the weapon in public while committing a crime. There is also an automatic 5-year enhancement for using any type of knife during the commission of another crime.

Virginia Knife Law FAQs

Some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about Virginia knife laws include the following:       

  • How Long Can a Knife Be in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is legal to carry a knife with a blade no longer than 3 inches. It is illegal however to conceal this type of weapon on your person or in any "recessed driveway."    

  • What Types of Knives are Illegal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is illegal to carry a knife that has no working trigger lock or safety device.

  • What types of knives are legal to carry in Virginia?

There are a number of types of knives that are legal to carry in Virginia. For example, pocket knives and survival knives are all allowed under state laws. However, there are certain restrictions on the length of blade allowed on such weapons.    

  • What is the length limit for pocket knives in Virginia?

Pocket knives with blades less than 3 inches in length are legal to carry in Virginia.

  • Can I sell or transfer ownership of a knife in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is legal to sell or transfer ownership of a knife in many situations. The most important aspect of this law, however, is that transferring possession of an illegal weapon is a felony offense.

  • Is it Illegal to scare someone with (brandish) a knife in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, brandishing a weapon is generally considered to be a form of assault. In general, assault laws punish individuals who display weapons in an aggressive or threatening manner with up to 12 months in prison and/or fines reaching $2500.

  • Can a minor carry a knife in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to carry any type of knife.

  • Are swords legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, swords are legal to own or carry. However, it is illegal to conceal a sword that cannot be seen by other individuals unless an individual has a valid concealed weapons permit.

  • Are switchblades legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, switchblades are illegal to conceal carry but legal to own.

  • Are folding knives legal in Virginia?

Yes, folding knives are legal to carry in Virginia. However, a folding knife cannot be opened with one hand while the individual is driving any type of motor vehicle.

  • Are fixed blade knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is legal to own fixed blade knives. However, the law does have a clause that states an individual cannot conceal a knife that has any type of hilt or handle guard.

  • Are butterfly knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, butterfly knives are illegal to conceal carry, but legal to own.

  • Are automatic knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, automatic knives are illegal to conceal carry and legal to own.

  • Are spring-assisted knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, spring-assisted knives are illegal to conceal carry and legal to own.

  • Are gravity knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, gravity knives are legal to own but illegal to conceal carry.

  • Are throwing knives legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, throwing knives are legal to own but illegal to conceal carry.

  • Are karambits Legal in Virginia?

In the state of Virginia, it is legal to own karambits. However, it is illegal to conceal carry a karambit with a blade longer than 3 inches.