Quick Legal Facts
Dangerous weapons are prohibited from school grounds and from public or private elementary, through public or private institutions of higher education
At a Glance:
Knives, as such, are not restricted in Utah where uniformity of weapon law state-wide obtains. Some knives may be ‘dangerous weapons’ as statutorily defined, but all knives may be carried openly or concealed except by convicted felons or by individuals with criminal intent.
76-10-500. Uniform law
76-10-503. Restrictions on possession, purchase, transfer, and ownership of dangerous weapons by certain persons—Exceptions
76-10-505.5. Possession of a dangerous weapon, firearm, or short barreled shotgun on or about school premises—Penalties
76-10-506. Threatening with or using dangerous weapon in fight or quarrel
76-10-507. Possession of deadly weapon with criminal intent
76-10-509.7. Parent or guardian knowing of minor’s possession of dangerous weapon
76-10-523. Persons exempt from weapons laws
There are no forbidden or restricted knives.
Concealment is not an issue.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer:
It is unlawful to knowingly sell or transfer a ‘dangerous weapon’ to a convicted felon.
Restrictions on Carry in Specific Locations / Circumstances:
Restrictions apply to public and private schools K through “higher education.”
Yes, by statute, § 76-10-500. Uniform law
The Utah Criminal Code, Title 76, Part 5 Weapons, does not restrict knives per se. § 76-10-501. Definitions does not provide a definition for “knife.” It does provide the following as a definition for “dangerous weapon”:
(6) (a) “Dangerous weapon” means:
(i) a firearm; or
(ii) an object that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
(b) The following factors are used in determining whether any object, other than a firearm, is a dangerous weapon:
(i) the location and circumstances in which the object was used or possessed;
(ii) the primary purpose for which the object was made;
(iii) the character of the wound, if any, produced by the object’s unlawful use;
(iv) the manner in which the object was unlawfully used;
(v) whether the manner in which the object is used or possessed constitutes a potential imminent threat to public safety; and
(vi) the lawful purposes for which the object may be used.
The above definition was an amendment that took effect in May 2015. It has not been the subject of appellate review since the amendment.
In October of 2014, the Utah Supreme Court, Salt Lake City v. Miles 342 P3d 212, reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals which upheld the conviction for possession of a dangerous weapon by a felon. The weapon was a manual opening pocketknife with a blade length of three and a half inches. The defendant was “homeless.” The knife was found in the shopping cart with his other possessions. He asserted that he used it for “camping,” which was evidently his daily routine.
The Salt Lake City v. Miles case was well reasoned and established good guidelines for the application of the “dangerous weapon” definition to knives. The Utah legislature eviscerated the precedential value of the case by amending the statute. The Miles decision may have an application to the “brandishing” statute as discussed below.
Fortunately, possession of a dangerous weapon – knife – is not restricted for the law-abiding.
76-10-506. Threatening with or using dangerous weapon in fight or quarrel makes it unlawful to “threaten” another with a “dangerous weapon” has a definition for that term which is specific to § 76-10-506:
(a) “Dangerous weapon” means an item that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. The following factors shall be used in determining whether an item, object, or thing is a dangerous weapon:
(i) the character of the instrument, object, or thing,
(ii) the character of the wound produced, if any; and
(iii) the manner in which the instrument, object, or thing was exhibited or used.
The definition of “dangerous weapon” includes the character of the instrument, object, or thing, a factor which was part of the general “dangerous weapon” definition, and was the basis of the Utah Supreme Court decision in the Miles case.
76-10-506 further provides:
(b) “Threatening manner” does not include:
(i) the possession of a dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed, without additional behavior which is threatening . . .
Law Enforcement / Military
Various exemptions are provided for federal and state law enforcement officers and other officials and may be found at § 76-10-523.
A violation of c 76-10-505.5 Possession of a dangerous weapon, firearm, or short barreled shotgun on or about school premises—Penalties involving a non-firearm weapon is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months jail time and a fine of $1,000.
Violations of § 76-10-506. Threatening with or using dangerous weapon in fight or quarrel and § 76-10-507. Possession of deadly weapon with criminal intent are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Updated December 3, 2020, by Daniel C. Lawson