Can You Carry a Knife in Texas?
What is a “knife” in Texas, how long can the blade be, and where can you carry a knife?
In most cases, the answer to this question is “yes.” Texas is famous, or infamous, depending on your perspective, for its broad weapons-carry laws. These laws are not unlimited, but they do allow most people to carry knives with blades shorter than 5.5 inches in most places. For the sake of comparison, most steak knives have a five or seven-inch blade.
Another question our Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys hear frequently is, “Do I have to tell a police officer I’m carrying a knife if I get stopped?” The law on this point is uncertain, so you may not have a legal duty to tell an officer you have a knife. However, we are all a bit edgy these days. A contentious encounter with an edgy police officer could end badly for everyone. So, as a practical matter, it is usually a good idea to tell an officer that you have a knife in these situations, especially if the blade is a legal length and you are not in a prohibited place.
Normally, these rules apply to knives with blades longer than 5.5 finches. Minors cannot possess such knives if they are away from home, in a motor vehicle, or not under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian. A 17-year-old who takes a knife on a hunting trip with Grandpa may be violating Texas law.
The location restrictions, which are often subjective, apply to all Texans. Some of the more controversial location restrictions include:
- School Events: If Derek accidentally encounters a group of schoolchildren on a field trip, he could face UCW (unlawfully carrying a weapon) charges.
- Courts: Not all courthouses look like courthouses. Many smaller Tarrant County communities have courthouses or annexes in mini-malls. Does a “courthouse” that was an ice cream parlor last month count as a prohibited place? Furthermore, does the boundary start at the mall entrance, the courthouse entrance, or somewhere else?
- Places of Worship: Somewhat similarly, many churches meet in unusual places, such as mini-malls, stores that are closed on Sundays, or hotel ballrooms. The same problems apply to these situations.
- Liquor Stores: For purposes of this law, any business that generates more than 51% of its revenue from alcohol sales is a liquor store. Most convenience stores are liquor stores under this standard.
Furthermore, these rules only apply if the knife is capable of seriously injuring someone by stabbing, slashing, or cutting. Whether the knife is sharp enough to qualify is usually a question of fact.
In most cases, UCW-Knife is a Class C misdemeanor. These offenses, which are punishable by fine only, are basically traffic tickets. However, if the stops go badly, as mentioned above, these defendants could face much more serious charges.
Can You Carry a Switchblade in Texas?
We hear this question a lot as well. Possession of a switchblade in Texas had been illegal since the 1950s until legislators changed the law, effective September 1, 2020. It is also no longer illegal to make, sell, or repair a switchblade. Previously, all these things were Class A misdemeanors.
Incidentally, a statewide preemption usually applies to all weapons-carrying laws. Local municipalities or counties generally do not have the power to pass more restrictive or less restrictive laws or ordinances.
Contact a Diligent Tarrant County Lawyer
Most knives are legal to carry in Texas in most situations. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact the Law Office of Kyle Whittaker. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.