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Knife Crimes

Iowa Code section 724.4 explains the different ways that a person can be charged with illegally carrying a weapon. Many of these weapon charges involve carrying a knife. It is legal to own the following types of knives:

  • Switchblades and automatic knives
  • Balisong or butterfly knives
  • Dirks, daggers, stilettos and other stabbing knives
  • Large knives including Bowie knives
  • Disguised knives including belt knives, cane knives, and lipstick knives

Iowa law, however, places limitations on the way a knife can be carried. Although it is usually legal to open carry any knife, it is illegal to conceal carry a knife with a blade of more than 5 inches, a switchblade, a dagger, a stiletto, a balisong knife, a cane swords or a lipstick knife.

In most circumstances, it is illegal to possess a ballistic knife. A ballistic knife is defined by Iowa law as a knife with a detachable blade which is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism, elastic material, or compressed gas.

Attorney for Knife Crimes in Iowa

Many people are surprised to learn that Iowa law provides for harsh penalties for carrying a concealed knife with a blade that is more than 5 inches. Many of these crimes involve juveniles charged with committing a delinquent act and are prosecuted in juvenile court.

Adults can also be charged with crimes involving knives, especially when the knife is used to commit another crime such as aggravated assault.

If you were charged with any type of weapon charge involving a knife, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Call (515) 279-9700 today.


Crimes for Carrying a Dangerous Weapon or Knife

The crime of “carrying a weapon” can involve:

  • Go armed with a “dangerous weapon” concealed on or about their person which is an aggravated misdemeanor;
  • Go armed with a knife concealed on or about the person and the person uses the knife in the commission of a crime which is an aggravated misdemeanor;
  • Go armed with a knife concealed on or about the person and the person and the blade exceeds 8 inches long, then the crime is an aggravated misdemeanor.

Crimes involving a knife charged as an aggravated misdemeanor are punishable by up to two years incarceration or up to one year in jail and a fine of $625 to $6,250 plus 35% criminal surcharge and court costs.

Go armed with a knife concealed on or about the person when the blade exceeds 5 inches but does not exceed 8 inches, then the person can be charged with a serious misdemeanor. Crimes charged as a serious misdemeanor are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $315 to $1,875 plus 35% criminal surcharge and court costs.


The Definition of a Dangerous Weapon in Iowa

The term dangerous weapon is defined under Iowa Code section 702.7 as:

  • any instrument or device;
  • designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury;
  • upon a human being or animal;
  • which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being; and
  • when used in the manner for which it was designed.

The definition of a dangerous weapon does not include a bow and arrow when possessed and used for hunting or any other lawful purpose.

Iowa law also provides that an item can be classified as a dangerous weapon when it is actually used in such a manner that indicates that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being.

Example of dangerous weapons can include a pistol, revolver, or other firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, knife having a blade exceeding five inches in length, or any portable device or weapon directing an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person.


Defenses to Carrying a Concealed Knife or Weapon

Iowa law provides for several defenses to the crime of carrying a concealed knife or weapon including:

  • having a dangerous weapon in the dwelling, business, or land owned by that person;
  • being a police officer, a correctional officer, or member of the armed forces or national guard who possesses the weapon as part of their duties;
  • a person is lawfully engaged in target practice on a target range or is actually engaged in lawful hunting;
  • a person is using a knife while hunting or fishing while actually engaged in lawful hunting or fishing;
  • having a valid permit to carry weapons.

Bringing a Weapon or Knife to an Airport

The restrictions on the way a knife can be carried are not applicable to concealed weapons permit holders when the knife is carried in a non-restricted area. Neither concealed carry or open carry is allowed in a secure area of an airport, for example.

In many cases, even accidentally bring a weapon or knife to an airport can result in criminal charges. Such charges are common at the Des Moines International Airport. Every year, people are arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon at an airport checkpoint. In many of these cases, the person will attempt to bring a firearm, knife or other contraband through the security checkpoint.

When the Transportation Security Administration employee discoveries the weapon, the TSA will call in the Des Moines police to do a criminal investigation. In some cases, the person is released with a summons to answer the charges in court at a later date. However, these are criminal charges with criminal penalties.

In 2016, TSA officers report finding more than 3,391 firearms in carry-on bags which represents a 28 percent increase from 2015. Firearms are allowed in checked bags only if they declared to the airline and packed in a locked, hard-sided container. Similar rules exist for carrying a knife in checked luggage.

In addition to the criminal charges, TSA can levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000 against a passenger who brings a knife, firearm, or another type of prohibited weapon to the checkpoint. TSA reports that the average penalty for a loaded firearm is $3,000 and the average penalty for an unloaded firearm is $1,500.