New Hampshire Knife Law – The Complete Guide (In Plain English)

This article was created to be a brief synopsis of the law according to my understanding and is not legal advice. Knifeade is not a legal service provider. Using this site does not create a client/lawyer relationship. Because knife laws can be interpreted differently by different people and entities it is recommended that you consult legal counsel for specific information and guidance.

The state of New Hampshire has a unique set of laws when it comes to the possession and use of pocket knives.

Understanding these knife laws is important for anyone who owns or carries one in the state, as violating them can have serious legal consequences.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about New Hampshire knife law including carrying and concealing knives, age restrictions on ownership and use, prohibited places where they cannot be carried or concealed, potential penalties for violations involving illegal possession or use of knives, defenses available against charges related to such violations and more.

Stay informed so that you don’t find yourself in an unfortunate situation due to ignorance regarding New Hampshire knife law.

Places Where Carrying and Concealing Knives is Prohibited in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, it is important to know the laws and regulations regarding carrying and concealing knives. There are certain places where carrying or concealing a knife is prohibited.

Under Subheading a., Schools and Educational Facilities: Carrying or concealing any type of knife on school grounds, in educational facilities, or at school-sponsored events is strictly prohibited by law. This includes pocket knives, switchblades, butterfly knives, balisongs (also known as “butterfly” or “Batangas” knives), gravity knives, dirks/daggers/stilettos/push daggers, and other similar weapons with blades longer than 3 inches.

Even if you have a concealed carry permit for your pocket knife in New Hampshire state law still prohibits carrying any kind of weapon on school property even if you possess a valid license to do so.

In New Hampshire, it is illegal to carry any type of knife into government buildings such as courthouses and police stations. This includes all types of folding pocketknives regardless of blade length as well as switchblades, butterfly knives (balisongs), gravity knives, dirks/daggers/stilettos/push daggers, and other similar weapons with blades longer than 3 inches.

If caught doing so one can face serious penalties including fines up to $2,000 dollars depending on the severity of the offense committed by an individual who violates this statute within these premises may be charged with criminal trespass which carries its own set of punishments upon conviction for violating this particular law.

It is important that anyone who owns or carries a pocketknife understands their local laws before they go out into public spaces, especially when it comes to schools and government buildings, as ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

It is important to be aware of where it is illegal to carry and conceal knives in New Hampshire, as the penalties for violating these laws can be severe. Next, we will look at what those penalties are.

Penalties for Violating Knife Laws in New Hampshire

New Hampshire knife laws are fairly lenient, but there are still some restrictions and penalties for violating them. It is important to understand the state’s regulations so that you can stay within the law when carrying or using a pocket knife.

Types of Penalties

The type of penalty imposed for breaking New Hampshire’s knife laws depends on the severity of the offense. Minor violations may result in fines or other minor punishments, while more serious offenses could lead to jail time and/or larger fines. In addition, if an individual is found guilty of a felony involving a weapon such as a pocketknife, they may face additional charges including probation or parole.

Possession of Prohibited Knives

Possession of certain types of knives is prohibited in New Hampshire and carries with it stiffer penalties than other violations. These include switchblades, gravity knives, daggers, stilettos, and ballistic knives (knives with a blade that is “fired” with a charge). If an individual is caught possessing one of these weapons they will likely face criminal charges which could result in hefty fines and even jail time depending on the circumstances surrounding their possession.

Carrying Knives at Schools & Government Buildings

It is illegal to carry any kind of weapon onto school grounds or into government buildings in New Hampshire without prior permission from authorities. This includes pocketknives as well as firearms and other weapons such as swords or brass knuckles. Violators may be subject to arrest by police officers who have been alerted about potential threats on school grounds or inside government buildings; those convicted may also face hefty fines along with possible jail time depending upon the situation at hand.

Penalties for violating knife laws in New Hampshire can be severe, ranging from fines to jail time. Fortunately, there are potential defenses available if one is charged with a violation of these laws. Next, we’ll look at some of those possible defenses.

Defenses to Charges Involving the Illegal Possession or Use of Knives in New Hampshire

If you are charged with a violation of knife laws in the state, there may be defenses available to you that can help reduce or dismiss your charges.

Possession of an Illegal Knife was Unknowing and Accidental

One defense to a charge involving the possession or use of an illegal knife is that the accused did not know they were in possession of such a weapon. This could occur if someone unknowingly purchased an illegal knife online or at a store without realizing its illegality. In this case, ignorance would be considered a valid defense against any charges related to possessing such weapons.

Necessity as Defense for Carrying Concealed Weapon

Another potential defense is necessity, which applies when someone has no other choice but to carry a concealed weapon due to fear for their safety from another person or persons. To successfully prove this defense, the accused must show that they had reasonable cause for believing their life was in danger and that carrying the concealed weapon was necessary for self-defense purposes only.

Mistake of Fact as Defense Against Charges Involving Knives

In New Hampshire, there are certain defenses to charges involving the illegal possession or use of knives. However, it is important to understand preemption laws that regulate local regulations of knives in order to ensure compliance with state law.

Preemption Law Regarding Local Regulation of Knives in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a preemption law that prohibits local governments from regulating the possession, sale, transfer, or transportation of knives. This means that any laws regarding these activities must be enacted at the state level and cannot be regulated by cities or counties. The only exception to this rule is if a municipality adopts an ordinance that is more restrictive than state law.

Definition of Knife in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, a knife is defined as “any instrument having a sharpened blade with an edge capable of cutting or stabbing another person”. This includes pocket knives, folding knives, switchblades, daggers, and other types of blades.

Types of Knives Allowed in New Hampshire

Under New Hampshire law, it is legal to own and carry most types of knives including pocket knives and folding blades with blades up to five inches long. Switchblades are also allowed provided they have a blade length no greater than three inches in total length. Dirks and daggers are also permitted but may not exceed six inches when opened fully.

It should be noted that certain municipalities may impose additional restrictions on the type or size of knife you can legally possess within their jurisdiction so it is important to check your local ordinances before carrying one into public areas such as parks or schools where they might otherwise be prohibited by state law alone.

Prohibited Knives in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is one of the few states that has a preemption law in place regarding local regulation of knives. This means that municipalities and counties are prohibited from enacting laws or ordinances related to knives, including pocket knives. The only exception to this rule is for schools, which can still regulate the possession of certain types of weapons on school grounds.

What Is Preemption Law?

Preemption law is a legal doctrine that prevents lower levels of government (such as cities and counties) from passing their own laws or regulations when those laws conflict with state-level legislation. In New Hampshire, this means that any city or county ordinance related to knife ownership must be consistent with state-level statutes regarding knife ownership and use.

What Does It Mean For Knife Ownership in New Hampshire?

For knife owners in New Hampshire, it means they can carry their pocket knives without fear of running afoul of local ordinances. As long as they abide by state-level statutes governing the possession and use of such weapons, they should not have any problems owning them within the borders of New Hampshire.

This also applies to online purchases; since there are no restrictions on buying pocket knives online in New Hampshire, residents can purchase them freely without worrying about violating any local rules or regulations.

Are There Any Restrictions On Pocket Knives In NH?

Yes – while there may not be any restrictions at the municipal level due to preemption law, there are still some restrictions imposed by state statutes when it comes to carrying pocket knives around town or even inside your home. For example, it is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to possess a switchblade (also known as an automatic knife).

Additionally, concealed carry permits do not apply when it comes to carrying pocketknives; if you are caught carrying one openly outside your home without a permit you could face criminal charges depending on where you live within the state.

Finally, all folding blades must have blades shorter than 3 inches long in order for them to be considered legal under NH law – anything longer than 3 inches would need special permission from either police officers or judges before being allowed into public spaces like parks and malls.

FAQs in Relation to New Hampshire Knife Law

What size knife is legal to carry in NH?

Any knife with a blade longer than 3.5 inches is considered an illegal weapon and may not be carried in public places or on your person without the proper permits or licenses. It is important to note that some cities and towns have additional restrictions on carrying knives, so it’s always best to check local laws before carrying any type of knife in public areas.

Is it legal to carry a knife in New Hampshire?

Yes, it is legal to carry a pocket knife in New Hampshire. The state does not have any restrictions on the size or type of pocket knives that can be carried. However, it is illegal to conceal a weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person. It is also illegal to possess certain types of knives such as switchblades and gravity knives. Furthermore, local ordinances may restrict the possession and carry of weapons in certain areas so always check before bringing your pocket knife out in public places.

Are butterfly knives legal in NH?

No, butterfly knives are not legal in the state of New Hampshire. Possession and/or sale of a butterfly knife is considered a Class A misdemeanor offense under NH law. This means that if you are found to be in possession or selling one, you could face up to 12 months in jail and/or fines up to $2,000. It is important to note that this applies only within the state of New Hampshire; laws may vary from state-to-state.

Can you carry a 5-inch knife?

The answer to this question depends on the laws of your local jurisdiction. Generally speaking, most states have laws that restrict the size and type of pocket knives you can carry in public. In many places, a 5-inch knife is considered too large for legal carrying purposes and may be prohibited.

It is important to check with your local law enforcement agency or consult an attorney if you are unsure about what types of knives are allowed in your area. Additionally, some areas may also require individuals to obtain a permit before they can legally carry any kind of knife.


In conclusion, it is important to understand the laws surrounding knives in New Hampshire.

While knife ownership and use are generally allowed, there are certain restrictions and prohibitions that must be followed.

Carrying and concealing knives can be illegal depending on where you are located, as well as for those under a certain age. Penalties for violating New Hampshire knife law can range from fines to jail time, so it is important to know your rights when carrying or using a knife in the state of New Hampshire.

Additionally, local governments may not pass their own regulations regarding knives due to preemption laws. Knowing these laws can help ensure that you stay within legal boundaries when owning or using a knife in New Hampshire.

In my opinion, it is time for New Hampshire to take a closer look at its knife laws. We need to ensure that responsible citizens are able to carry pocket knives without fear of criminal prosecution, while still maintaining public safety and security. Through research, education, and advocacy we can create meaningful solutions that make sure all individuals have the right to keep their everyday tools with them safely and responsibly.

So let’s work together towards creating sensible (and understandable) policies on carrying pocket knives in New Hampshire!

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