While the Second Amendment protects Pennsylvanians' rights to bear arms, there are many instances where it is illegal to possess weapons. In Pennsylvania there are many different offenses involving weapons with which a person can be charged. One does not even need to use the weapon or intend to use the weapon in order to be charged with a crime. Also, weapons charges are not just limited to guns, but also cover other dangerous weapons. The penalties for these offenses can be serious and also may prohibit a person from lawfully possessing weapons in the future.
Recently a Pennsylvania man was arrested on multiple weapons charges following an alleged "road rage" incident. According to police, two motorists became upset with each other, accusing each other of driving recklessly. As the argument continued the suspect allegedly took out a stun gun, pointed it at the other motorist and activated it. There are no reports that the stun gun was actually fired by the suspect.
As a result of these alleged actions, the suspect was charged with three separate possession of weapons charges. The suspect is facing one third degree charge and two fourth degree charges even though allegedly he possessed only a stun gun and not an actual gun carrying live ammunition.
As illustrated above, weapons charges are serious offenses even if there is no gun involved. Weapons charges carry significant penalties even if it is a first time offense. Many even carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Penalties for weapons charges are also increased in situations where the weapon is used while committing other crimes. However, there are many defenses to weapons charges, including challenging whether the police had the right to seize the weapon in the first place. Each situation is different though and defenses vary depending on the specific facts of the incident.
People in Pennsylvania should be aware that even if they face weapons charges, there are ways to avoid a conviction. Experienced criminal defense attorneys, who have dealt with weapons charges before, can help ensure a good defense and protect defendants' rights in these cases.
Source: New Jersey Herald, "Pa. man arrested in 'road rage' incident," Sept. 10, 2013