Legislation on carrying a pocketknife: regulations remain vague and unclear
The law established in March 6, 2012 has not really change much
The French law n° 2012-304 “on establishing simplified and preventative measures on the control of modern weapons” that was put in place March 6, 2012 was aimed at simplifying the categorization of arms and whether or not one should be authorized to bear them. However the regulations it established remain rather obscure.
This law, which was implemented September 6, 2013, is difficult to understand if you are not familiar with the professional hunting sector or are a knife collector.
Despite the fact that the nomenclature of arms was simplified and has been streamlined to 8 to 4 categories, a very important question remains vaguely answered: can one carry a pocketknife without infringing upon legislation?
According to the legislation pocketknives are considered to be bladed weapons
Traditionally, in France, an individual was allowed to carry a pocketknife if the blade was not larger than the palm of your hand – even though there is no logical reasoning behind this once widely accepted rule.
This simple way of discerning whether a person had bad intentions or was simply using their pocketknife for personal use is now obsolete: a simple pocketknife may now be considered a bladed weapon and is classified under category D.
If you decide to use the sumptuous Laguiole Evolution Titanium pocketknife (manufactured in Thiers by TB Groupe – the n°1 cutlery company in France) to cut food or as a handy tool while on French soil you may be prosecuted by the law and may be subject to judicial reprisal.
Let’s delve deeper into the subject by looking at the definition of a bladed weapon that was established by the French Department of Homeland Security in the decree of July 30, 2013: “A weapon wielded by an individual to stab, slice or break, excluding explosions.”
This definition leaves us with a clear understanding: according to current legislation your pocketknife is considered to be a bladed weapon! Don’t panic yet, the rest of this article will make it clear to you that you have a very small chance of breaching this law.
A broad application of these articles
Can you be fined up to €15,000? Yes, however…
Article 173 of the decree of July 30, 2013 provided that carrying or transporting arms for unregulated sale is considered to be an infraction and may lead to a fourth class offence resulting in a fine of €750!
This significant penalty does not entail a formal legal action and one cannot be placed under custody, phew! However, under the impetus of Manuel Valls, Minister of the Interior (titulaire du maroquin Place Beauvau), the prosecutor’s office quickly called this decision into question. Valls added a new decree in order to make an amendment to the law of 2012, modifying articles L. 317-8 and L. 317-9 of the Code on Homeland Security.
The legislation stipulates that all arms classified under category D, including pocketknives, whether they are sold under regulation or not, cannot be carried or transported without due cause. A severe fine of €15,000 and up to one year in prison may be applied to individuals judged to have broken this law.
Due to the severity of these regulations, does one really need to retire their pocketknife and hide it in the back of a drawer? By all means, no!
Firstly, because the legislator considered the penalty to be disproportionate he decided it was necessary to clarify that the misdemeanour is not legitimate if the arm “does not present a real danger and appear on the list approved by the decree.”
By reading into this point of legislation, carrying a pocketknife cannot be seen as a misdemeanour.
Criminal Procedure Code is strict but…
The Criminal Procedure Code (Code de Procédure Pénale CPP) is strict in terms of the conditions under which a person may be frisked. If frisked, the police may find an arm on an individual. Frisks are only given in specific situations established by law, for example when in custody or during interrogation.
Articles 76 and 56 of the Criminal Procedure Code grant law enforcement officers the right to frisk an individual only if their conduct is apparently criminal in nature. This will certainly not be the case if you are using your pocketknife for cutting cheese and ham!