PROHIBITED OFFENSIVE WEAPONS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Possessing a prohibited offensive weapon is a serious crime in Pennsylvania, punishable by a wide range of penalties from probation to incarceration in state prison.
PROHIBITED OFFENSIVE WEAPON DEFINED
The crime of possessing a Prohibited Offensive Weapon is found under Title 18 Section 908, and is graded as a 1st-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 5 years in jail. A person commits this offense if he or she makes, repairs, sells, deals in, uses or possesses an offensive weapon.
There are many types of offensive weapons, but the most common are brass knuckles, switchblades, blackjacks, stun guns and tasers. Other types of offensive weapons include bombs, grenades, machine guns, sawed-off shotguns with a barrel of less than 18 inches, silencers and other electronic weapons.
DEFENSES TO A PROHIBITED OFFENSIVE WEAPON CHARGE
Sections (b) and (c) of the Prohibited Offensive Weapon statute sets forth defenses that the person charged must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), which include:
The weapon was possessed solely as a collector's item;
The weapon was used for a dramatic performance;
The weapon was not a bomb or incendiary device, and the person complied with the National Firearms Act;
The person possessed the weapon briefly after having found it or taken it from an aggressor, or in another manner which would show that the weapon was not going to be used unlawfully; or
The person is a member of law enforcement in possession of a blackjack, has received specific training, and has used or possessed the weapon in the course of duty.
Other typical defenses to any possession crime include arguments that the Commonwealth has not meet its burden of proof due to a lack of evidence, or that the police violated your constitutional rights during the course of the encounter.
HOW THE ZUCKERMAN LAW FIRM CAN HELP
Prohibited Offensive Weapon charges are uncommon in Pennsylvania. However, in 2015 and 2017, former gun crimes prosecutor Dave Zuckerman successfully argued for the dismissal of prohibited offensive weapon charges against several clients who possessed collector's items.
Whether or not there is a valid defense or you were caught red handed in possession of a prohibited weapon, it may be possible to resolve your case with minimal consequences. If you are facing prosecution for a prohibited offensive weapon charge, call the Zuckerman Law Firm today at 412-447-5580 for a free consultation.