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Razor’s edge: What is the difference between Switchblades and Spring-Assisted Knives?

Under Indiana law, “[i]t is a Class B misdemeanor for a person to manufacture, possess, display, offer, sell, lend, give away, or purchase any knife with a detachable blade that may be ejected from the handle as a projectile by means of gas, a spring, or any other device contained in the handle of the knife.”  Ind. Code Section 35-47-5-2.

The constitutionality of “switchblades” was addressed in Lacy v. State, 903 N.E.2d 486, 489 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009).  The defendant in that case argued that the statute and prohibition against possessing a switchblade violated her constitutional right to bear arms under Article 1, Section 32 of the Indiana Constitution, which provides that the “people shall have the right to bear arms, for defense of themselves and the State.”  The Indiana Court of Appeals looked to other states and noted that other courts and legislatures have also recognized the danger of switchblades to the public and the rationality in banning them.  The Court of Appeals held that the statutory ban on switchblades was valid and even noted that “we cannot say that switchblades are typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for self defense purposes.”  Consequently, Lacy’s criminal conviction for possession of a switchblade as an automatic knife was upheld and deemed constitutional.   

However, is there a difference between a switchblade and what is referred to as a spring-assisted knife?  https://www.knife-depot.com/knife-information-240.html (last visited February 20, 2017).  Timothy Martinez Jr. explains that while a switchblade opens automatically, an assisted opening knife, occasionally called a spring-assisted knife, is a knife that springs open only after the blade is slightly pushed open with force from the user.  At least in Indiana, there appears to be no appellate decisions that have squarely addressed whether “assisted opening” or “spring assisted” knives fall within prohibition included within Indiana Code 35-47-5-2.  However, unlike switchblades that open automatically, spring-assisted blades do not open automatically and require the user to use force and open the knife in a similar fashion like any other traditional folding blade. 

Looking for a Hendricks County criminal defense attorney that understands your criminal and appellate rights? Contact the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated.  We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case.  Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.