Knife Laws in Florida (2024)

Knife Laws in Florida (1)

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Florida's known for a pretty wide range of things: oranges, sunshine, retirees, Disney World and, not least of all, the near daily deluge of bizarre and often entertaining "Florida man" stories: Florida man wearing homemade knife necklace charges at neighbors; Florida man cuts neighbor with knife that has "kindness" written on it; Florida woman pulls knife on man after he complained she "farted loudly." Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in these real-life Florida man (and Florida woman) headlines, but they certainly might have you asking, "What's the deal with knife laws in Florida, anyway?" The answer is that they're pretty friendly to knife owners, but go ahead and sharpen up on the legality of Florida knife carry laws before you take a trip down south – just to be sure you don't end up in the next Florida man or Florida woman headline.

Concealed Carry in Florida

There's at least one big blanket law in the Sunshine State that applies to all knives in a significant way: Statute 790.1 of Title XLVI (Crimes), Weapons and Firearms, 2018 Florida Statutes. Per this important legislation, the concealed carry of weapons law in Florida is clear as a summer day in Miami:

"...a person who carries a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on or about his or her person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree."

And, yes, this does apply to knives, whether we're talking about switchblades in Florida, Florida pocket knife laws or butterfly knife laws in Florida – all of these and other types of blades are covered by Florida Statute 790.1. In addition to knives and blades, other types of concealed weapons include dirks, or short daggers; metallic knuckles; billy clubs and similar types of blunt clubs; tear gas guns; and chemical weapons – basically, any type of deadly weapon counts.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Statute 790.1 does not apply to anyone licensed to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm as outlined in the provisions of Florida Statute 790.6. Likewise, carrying certain items for lawful self-defense purposes does not violate the law. Self-defense items include:

  • Self-defense chemical sprays.
  • Nonlethal stun guns.
  • Dart-firing stun guns.
  • Nonlethal electric weapons.
  • Any other nonlethal device designed solely for defensive purposes.

At the other end of the spectrum, concealed firearms escalate potential charges to the felony level.

Read More: Concealed Weapons Laws in Florida

Open Carry in Florida

While concealed carry knife laws in Florida might not sound at all friendly, the southern state's open carry laws tell a whole different story. The law firm of Salazar and Kelly with offices in Kissimmee, Orlando and Altamonte Springs, puts it pretty plainly: Almost all knives are legal to own and carry in the open in Florida.

Things go a little deeper, too. Although nonlicensed concealed carry can get you into legal trouble, knives and similar bladed instruments used for work aren't necessarily subject to the same rules. According to Salazar and Kelly's website, it's generally okay to carry something work-related in your pocket or elsewhere on your clothing, like a box cutter or a multi-tool with a blade, especially if the blade in question measures less than 4 inches. In the 2004 case of Holley v. State of Florida, the court found that box cutters and razors did not qualify as deadly weapons because they are designed for utility purposes, rather than for bodily harm.

In large part, this legal philosophy finds its roots in the Florida State Constitution, in which Article 1 promises:

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law."

License for Concealed Carry

Here's where that part about the manner of bearing arms being regulated by law comes in to play. To legally carry a concealed knife in Florida as means of lawful self-defense, you will need to have a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License. To get your CWFL, any person over the age of 21 may apply in person at any Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regional office or any authorized Florida tax collector's office. You'll need a picture ID such as a driver's license or a state-issued ID and a copy of a training document or similar certificate certifying that you're proficient with a firearm. You'll also have to pay fees, which look something like these for typical Florida residents, as of 2019:

  • Fingerprint processing fee: $42.
  • Initial license fee: $55.
  • Renewal license fee: $45.
  • Revised or duplicate license fee: $15.
  • New application fee: $22.
  • Renewal application fee: $12.

Active and retired law enforcement officers and judges are exempt from fees, while consular security officials and out-of-state residents may be subject to higher costs. Licenses are valid for seven years from the date of issuance, and the license must be carried alongside a valid ID at all times when you're in possession of a concealed knife, weapon or firearm. Eligible applicants must be United States citizens or permanent resident aliens, cannot have been committed to a mental institution within the past five years, and cannot have been convicted of a felony or certain controlled substance and domestic violence violations.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may choose to deny the application in the case of those who have committed violent misdemeanor crimes. The department maintains an automated listing of all CWFL license holders in the state, which is available for online viewing at all times upon request to all law enforcement agencies in the state via the Florida Crime Information Center's website.

Even licensed concealed carry isn't universally legal in Florida. At any school below the college level, concealed knives, firearms and other weapons are prohibited. On college campuses, only registered students, employees or faculty members may carry, if they're licensed. Knives and other weapons are also not allowed in the areas of establishments primarily devoted to dispensing and consuming alcoholic beverages. That's not the be-all, end-all list, though. Other places where both openly carried and concealed knives, firearms and other weapons are outlawed in Florida include:

  • Any place where weapons are prohibited by federal law.
  • Career centers.
  • Courthouses and courtrooms.
  • Detention facilities such as jails or prisons.
  • Highway patrol stations.
  • Meetings of governing bodies of counties, municipalities, public school districts or special districts.
  • Meetings of state legislature or state legislature committees.
  • Passenger terminals and sterile areas of airports.
  • Places of nuisance such as those where gang activity or prostitution take place – basically, any place that tends to injure the health of a community.
  • Police stations.
  • Polling places.
  • School administration buildings.
  • Sheriff's stations.

Florida Knife Ownership

Okay, so now you know under what circ*mstances you can and can't carry knives in Florida. But what about just owning knives in your personal collection or, per the law, "within the interior of a private conveyance" without a license? The laws here are a lot more lax: It's legal to own virtually any type of knife in Florida. Big knives, little knives, real knives, novelty knives and even knives that are disguised like other things. That legal list includes, but is not limited to, knives and blades like:

  • Balisong knives.
  • Belt knives.
  • Bowie knives.
  • Butterfly knives.
  • Cane knives.
  • Disguised knives.
  • Multi-tools that include knives and other blades.
  • Pocket knives.
  • Throwing knives.
  • Undetectable knives – those that will not set off metal detectors.

And just in case you're a Floridian ninja in training, throwing stars are okay to own, too.

There is one type of knife that the state of Florida does outlaw, though, as of laws dating back to 1985: the ballistic knife. This type of weapon features a detachable, spring-loaded blade that can be shot or propelled outward when a trigger, switch or other type of lever is activated. Think of it as sort of a gun that shoots a knife blade, and it won't take long to understand why it's illegal in Florida. And Florida is not alone here; according to the federal U.S. Code, Title 15, Chapter 29, Section 1245:

"Whoever in or affecting interstate commerce, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), knowingly possesses, manufactures, sells, or imports a ballistic knife shall be fined as provided in title 18, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."

Florida Knife Laws for Minors

Ballistic knives in Florida may be illegal to own no matter your age, while other knives are fair game, but the state does impose some specific laws regarding minors and knives.

In Florida, it's against the law to sell any weapons, including knives, to those under the age of 18 in the absence of a parent or guardian. In fact, adults can't sell, rent, barter, lend or otherwise transfer knives to minors in any capacity at all without the approval of the youth's parents or guardians. Knives aren't alone, either; this law applies to any dangerous weapon. Similarly, it applies to anyone defined as a person of unsound mind, in addition to those under 18 years old.

One exception here is that, under Florida law, an "ordinary pocketknife" is allowed for sale to those under 18. As it occurs throughout Florida law, the term ordinary pocketknife goes undefined. That means it's ultimately up to the decision of judges and juries in the state to decide on the line of demarcation between an ordinary pocketknife and other sorts of blades. Based on legal precedents, such as the 2010 case of K.H v. State of Florida, features that may mark a knife as uncommon or extraordinary include double-edged blades, serrations, locking mechanisms, large metal hilt guards and notched or combat-style grips. The 2001 case of Porter v. State of Florida found that a common pocket knife has a blade of less than 4 inches, which is why you'll often hear the 4-inch rule cited.

Knife Laws: Repercussions

As per Florida Statute 790.1, illegally carrying any type of concealed, deadly knife in Florida can get you slapped with a misdemeanor of the first degree. In the state, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to one year. Those guilty of selling or otherwise transferring knives to minors without parental permission may also face first-degree misdemeanor charges and the corresponding punishments.

While most casual knife carriers aren't at too much risk in Florida, enthusiasts will find it wise to check in with their local municipalities. Some Florida counties do have bespoke regulations regarding knives and other weapons set out in their unique municipal codes and, in some cases, these rules may differ from state law.


  • In the big legal picture, owning and openly carrying most knives is legal for adults in Florida, but a permit is required for the concealed carry of weaponry.

Knife Laws in Florida (2024)


Knife Laws in Florida? ›

Generally, if a blade is shorter than four inches, it is legal to carry it concealed without a license. In Florida law, it is illegal to give a knife (besides a pocket knife) to anyone younger than 18. Violating this law could warrant first-degree misdemeanor charges.

What knives are illegal in Florida? ›

Illegal Knives in Florida

Under Florida law, it is illegal to manufacture, display, sell, own, or possess any ballistic or self-propelled knife. Any person found with a ballistic knife will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.

Is a knife clipped in your pocket concealed Florida? ›

It is unlawful to conceal carry any knife except a common pocketknife. Knives, (but not firearms) may be carried openly subject to location-based restrictions. A holder of a 790.06. License to carry concealed weapon or firearm, or a license issued by a state with Florida reciprocity, may carry a concealed knife.

Can I open carry a sword in Florida? ›

Are Swords Legal in Florida? It is legal to carry any knife openly, including swords. But, without a valid permit, you cannot carry concealed knife having a blade longer than 4-inches.

Are out the front knives legal in Florida? ›

Also, minors under 18 years old should never carry a switchblade. However, there are some exceptions to this prohibition, including knives carried for lawful purposes such as fishing, hunting, or camping. Therefore, otf switchblades are legal if you open-carry and use them for outdoor sports.

What size knife can you carry in Florida? ›

If a knife has a blade longer than four inches, a concealed carry weapons permit is required to carry it. If you carry a concealed knife that is significantly larger than four inches, you could be charged with a crime.

How big of a knife can you carry in Florida? ›

- Open Carry: it is LEGAL to OPEN CARRY fixed blade knives of any type, size and length. - Conceal Carry: it is LEGAL to carry these knives folded and concealed given that the BLADE is less than 4 inches in length. - It is ILLEGAL to carry any knife with a BLADE longer than 4 inches.

What weapons are illegal in Florida? ›

What Guns Are Illegal in Florida? According to Florida Statute § 790.221, people are prohibited from owning or being in possession of short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, or machine guns that are in operable conditions. It is not illegal to possess these guns as long as they are antique firearms.

Are brass knuckles illegal in Florida? ›

Brass knuckles are legal in Florida; however, one must have a permit in order to concealed carry brass knuckles. If an individual unlawfully carries concealed brass knuckles they can be charged with a misdemeanor and carry penalties of up to a $1,000 fine and up to three years in prison.

Is a knife considered a weapon in Florida? ›

Section 790.001(13), F.S. “"Weapon" means any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.”

Can you carry a holstered gun in Florida? ›

"Open carry" means you can publicly carry a legally owned firearm that is kept in plain sight or partially concealed, usually holstered.

What is a dirk knife? ›

A dirk is classically a large, single-bladed knife with a blade anywhere from 12 inches all the way up to 20 inches. Naval dirks were commonly used for ship-to-ship fighting as they were short enough to be used in tight confines yet large enough to still be effective.

What can I open carry in Florida? ›

Open Carry is Generally Prohibited in Florida

As a general rule, Florida does not allow for open carry of handguns. If a handgun is displayed in a situation not necessary for self-defense, criminal charges could follow. Under this statute, firearms and certain electric weapons cannot be openly carried.

Can you defend yourself with a knife in Florida? ›

Under Section 776.012, Florida Statutes, a person is justified in the use of non-deadly force in self-defense where the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against such other's imminent use of unlawful force. There is no duty to retreat.

Can you carry a knife for self-defense Florida? ›

A: Yes, it is legal to open carry a knife in Florida.

However, it's important to act responsibly when displaying a knife in public. Florida Statute 790.10 says that exhibiting a weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, except for self-defense, is a first-degree misdemeanor.

What is a pocket knife in Florida? ›

The court relied on a 1951 Attorney General's Opinion that defined a “common pocketknife” as one with a blade less than four inches long. In a footnote, however, the justices cautioned that neither the court nor the Attorney General maintained that four inches should be a bright line cut-off. Supreme Court of Florida.

What is a common pocket knife in Florida? ›

In 1951, the Attorney General of Florida opined that a folding knife with a blade of four inches in length or less is a "common pocketknife." Op.

What qualifies as a dirk? ›

By definition, a dirk or dagger is a knife or other instrument (with or without a handguard) that can be used immediately as a stabbing weapon, and that may inflict great bodily injury or death. This includes pocketknives and certain folding knives, if the blade is exposed and locked into position.

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