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Have you or a loved one been charged with a weapon offense in Philadelphia or surrounding counties in Pennsylvania?  I am the lawyer who will offer you tactical, dynamic, comprehensive, and compassionate defense.    Penalties for these offenses can be stiff and it is important to select the right lawyer for your defense. 

The most common weapons charge is for a firearm.  That is, Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License.   Other common forms of weapons charges are Possession of an Instrument of Crime, Prohibited Offensive Weapon or Prior Felon not to Possess. 

There are many defenses to these charges, beginning with possession.  If an item is not on one’s person, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was constructively possessed.   In order to prove constructive possession, it must prove that one has knowledge, dominion and the intent to exercise control over that item.     

Also, if charged with a firearm, the government must prove that the item fits the legal definition of a firearm.  Often, the government may charge you with a firearm when one isn’t recovered.  Among other things, in order for an item to be a firearm pursuant to some charges, it must have a particular barrel length and be operable (or depending on the charge, be easily made operable).

Additionally, if one is charged with possessing a firearm without a license, it must also be proven that they were not in their home or curtilage of that home, so long as the individual is eligible to possess.

Even if a firearm has been recovered, it may be as the result of an unlawful search and seizure.   If items were recovered as a result of an unlawful search and seizure, them, and their fruits would be prohibited at trial.     

For more information about search and seizure….click here.

The following are definitions of  Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License,  Possession of an Instrument of Crime and Prohibited Offensive Weapon:

PA 18:6106  Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License.

        

PA 18: 907.  Possessing instruments of crime.

        (a)  Criminal instruments generally.–A person commits a

     misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses any instrument

     of crime with intent to employ it criminally.

        (b)  Possession of weapon.–A person commits a misdemeanor of

     the first degree if he possesses a firearm or other weapon

     concealed upon his person with intent to employ it criminally.

        (c)  Unlawful body armor.–A person commits a felony of the

     third degree if in the course of the commission of a felony or

     in the attempt to commit a felony he uses or wears body armor or

     has in his control, custody or possession any body armor.

        (d)  Definitions.–As used in this section, the following

     words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this

     subsection:

        “Body armor.”  Any protective covering for the body, or parts

     thereof, made of any polyaramid fiber or any resin-treated glass

     fiber cloth or any material or combination of materials made or

     designed to prevent, resist, deflect or deter the penetration

     thereof by ammunition, knife, cutting or piercing instrument or

     any other weapon.

        “Instrument of crime.”  Any of the following:

            (1)  Anything specially made or specially adapted for

        criminal use.

            (2)  Anything used for criminal purposes and possessed by

        the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for

        lawful uses it may have.

        “Weapon.”  Anything readily capable of lethal use and

     possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for

     lawful uses which it may have. The term includes a firearm which

     is not loaded or lacks a clip or other component to render it

     immediately operable, and components which can readily be

     assembled into a weapon.

PA 18: 908.  Prohibited offensive weapons.

        (a)  Offense defined.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the

     first degree if, except as authorized by law, he makes repairs,

     sells, or otherwise deals in, uses, or possesses any offensive

     weapon.

        (b)  Exceptions.

            (1)  It is a defense under this section for the defendant

        to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he possessed or

        dealt with the weapon solely as a curio or in a dramatic

        performance, or that, with the exception of a bomb, grenade

        or incendiary device, he complied with the National Firearms

        Act (26 U.S.C. § 5801 et seq.), or that he possessed it

        briefly in consequence of having found it or taken it from an

        aggressor, or under circumstances similarly negativing any

        intent or likelihood that the weapon would be used

        unlawfully.

            (2)  This section does not apply to police forensic

        firearms experts or police forensic firearms laboratories.

        Also exempt from this section are forensic firearms experts

        or forensic firearms laboratories operating in the ordinary

        course of business and engaged in lawful operation who notify

        in writing, on an annual basis, the chief or head of any

        police force or police department of a city, and, elsewhere,

        the sheriff of a county in which they are located, of the

        possession, type and use of offensive weapons.

            (3)  This section shall not apply to any person who

        makes, repairs, sells or otherwise deals in, uses or

        possesses any firearm for purposes not prohibited by the laws

        of this Commonwealth.

        (c)  Definitions.–As used in this section, the following

     words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this

     subsection:

        “Firearm.”  Any weapon which is designed to or may readily be

     converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive

     or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

        “Offensive weapons.”  Any bomb, grenade, machine gun, sawed-

     off shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, firearm specially

     made or specially adapted for concealment or silent discharge,

     any blackjack, sandbag, metal knuckles, dagger, knife, razor or

     cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an

     automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or

     otherwise, any stun gun, stun baton, taser or other electronic

     or electric weapon or other implement for the infliction of

     serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.

        (d)  Exemptions.–The use and possession of blackjacks by the

     following persons in the course of their duties are exempt from

     this section:

            (1)  Police officers, as defined by and who meet the

        requirements of the act of June 18, 1974 (P.L.359, No.120),

        referred to as the Municipal Police Education and Training

        Law.

            (2)  Police officers of first class cities who have

        successfully completed training which is substantially

        equivalent to the program under the Municipal Police

        Education and Training Law.

            (3)  Pennsylvania State Police officers.

            (4)  Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the various counties

        who have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal

        Police Education and Training Law.

            (5)  Police officers employed by the Commonwealth who

        have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal

        Police Education and Training Law.

            (6)  Deputy sheriffs with adequate training as determined

        by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

            (7)  Liquor Control Board agents who have satisfactorily

        met the requirements of the Municipal Police Education and

        Training Law.

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Philadelphia, PA 19102

Phone: 215-732-3474

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