Illinois Knife Laws

Man holding a knife

Get the facts on Illinois knife laws from the expert attorneys at The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel.

Illinois Knife Laws

Guns are the subject of many regulations across Illinois, and gun laws are fiercely disputed. With all the focus on these weapons, it is easy to forget that knives are subject to similar regulations and are, in some cases, illegal.

If you take pleasure in hunting or simply carry a pocket knife for protection, Illinois can be a challenging place to live, especially if you reside in or near the city of Chicago. Even the most well-intentioned people, including Illinois’ 2.1 million Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) cardholders, can find it tough to remain compliant with all of the state’s weapons regulations. 

IL Knife Laws

Illinois Knife Law is unclear in numerous concerns, but if you are a resident or visitor of the state, then you need to follow all of its regulations for your safety and the safety of others. According to Illinois knife law, you can not own, sell, or manufacture any unlawful knife or blade in the state.

Knife Laws Illinois

There are a number of reasons to legally carry a knife, and knife carrying itself is not prohibited. Knives can be useful tools for many occupations and hobbies, such as hunting, carving, or fishing. What a hobbyist might see as a rare or interesting knife, the law might view as illegal.

It is very important to identify whether the knives you own are illegal. If a police officer sees you carrying an unlawful knife or sees it out in the open in your vehicle, the officer might utilize that to justify a search of your body or vehicle. To help you prevent any issues with the law, the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel have put together this brief guide to Illinois knife laws.

What Knives Are Illegal in Illinois?

Illinois is among the states which reference the intentions of the knife-wielder in determining whether it is legal for them to be in ownership of the knife. For example, unintentionally injuring another individual by handing over a legal knife, such as a dagger, is not usually viewed as bad intent. However, utilizing the very same dagger to threaten somebody may be cause for an arrest for violation of Illinois knife laws under the guise of “unlawful use of weapons.”

That isn’t the only way by which they identify a knife as legal or unlawful, however. 720 ILCS 5/24-1 stipulates that any ballistic knife, as well as throwing stars and automatic knives, are illegal under most circumstances. These knives cannot be owned, manufactured, sold, or otherwise remain in your possession while in Illinois.

Possession of an illegal knife is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, which is punishable by as much as 12 months in jail and/or a fine of as much as $2,500. There might be harsher sentences if the knife was discovered in a protected location such as a school, a public housing development, or a courthouse. Illinois law also bans any “deadly weapon” from being carried into places that serve alcohol or any gathering that charges admission.

Are Switchblades Legal in Illinois?

One of the few automatic knives deemed legal in Illinois, a switchblade opens automatically when a button, spring, or another mechanism is pushed. In August 2017, it became legal for FOID cardholders age 21 and over to possess and carry switchblade knives in Illinois. However, this state law does not preempt or bypass regional regulations; cities might impose their own more stringent guidelines. 

Are Switchblades Illegal in Illinois?

The ever-distrusted switchblade is still illegal for non-FOID cardholders in Illinois, as are throwing stars, any ballistic knife, and any other instrument “of like manner.” Metal knuckles and brass knuckles are prohibited, too, which essentially outlaws knives with metal finger rings.

Are OTF Knives Legal in Illinois?

Out-the-front knives, also known as OTF knives, are a type of switchblade featuring a blade that springs out the front of the handle when a button is pressed, similar to a pen. Because this type of knife is classified as a switchblade, they are legal under the same stipulations as a standard switchblade knife.

Are Butterfly Knives Illegal in Illinois?

Butterfly knives, also known as balisong knives, are legal to own and carry within the state. As they are over 3 inches in length, they must be kept off of public or government-owned property under 720 ILCS 5/21-6.  Any other knife that could be considered a “dangerous or deadly weapon” or an “instrument of like character” is also barred from being carried into these spaces.

Other legal knives in Illinois include pocket/folding knives, bowie knives, dirks/daggers, swords, machetes, and disguised knives such as belt knives, cane knives, and lipstick knives. However, some of these weapons do have restrictions on who can carry them, so you may want to consult a criminal lawyer Yorkville before carrying certain weapons, both through concealed carry and open carry. 

Legal Knife Length Illinois

When determining the legality of your knife in Illinois, another factor to consider is its length. Although Illinois is not strict about knife length, the length of your knife may bar you from entering certain public spaces while carrying it.

What Is the Legal Length of a Knife to Carry in Illinois?

For the most part, there are no legal constraints on knives based on their length. There are a couple of knife laws associated with the length and where the knife may be carried, which prohibit knives that are of or over 3 inches in length when in locations that are owned in part or entirely by the government. There are no other limits on the length of a knife that is otherwise legally carried.

Legal Knife Length in Illinois’ Cities

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that without any preemption law to stop them, cities and counties in Illinois are able to set their own knife regulations. Chicago implements a 2.5″ length limit, which has inspired knife makers to produce “Chicago edition” knives with short blades that are legal to carry in the city. 

These differences in state and local laws in Illinois can confuse many knife owners, so don’t hesitate to contact our Kendall County attorneys if you need help determining the legality of your knife or combatting weapons-related criminal charges.

Illinois Knife Carry Laws

The State of Illinois often defies neat classifications and is neither friendly nor hostile toward knife ownership. Concealed carry is not an issue in Illinois. Additionally, under the state’s unlawful use of weapons statute, intent plays a large function in determining legality.

Generally, law enforcement views the possession of longer knives as legal and appropriate if the knife owner has a calm demeanor and is plainly going about their daily business instead of acting in a suspicious or threatening way. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is subject to the discretion of each individual officer, which can lead to unfair arrests and inequalities in the justice system.

Is it Legal to Carry a Knife in Illinois?

In most cases, it is legal to carry a knife in Illinois, but the law is often subjective and complicated. If you require assistance navigating knife laws in Illinois or if you have been arrested or charged with a weapons-related infraction, you require a legal representative who comprehends each applicable state and regional law for your case. Retain the services of a skilled Yorkville weapons charges defense lawyer to guarantee that your rights are secured. 

As soon as you learn that the police want to talk to you concerning a weapons-related event, consult a legal representative prior to speaking with a law enforcement officer. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew Nickel at (630) 553-7111 for a free consultation with a lawyer who has years of experience defending the rights, freedom, and future of individuals facing these types of circumstances.