In some states, a person commits the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses a firearm, an illegal knife, a club, or a prohibited weapon on or within a certain number of feet from certain premises. Such premises include schools or educational institutions, polling places on the day of an election, courthouses, racetracks, secured areas of airports, or correctional institutions.
A “firearm” for purposes of the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited means any device that is designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by an explosion or by a burning substance. The term “firearm” includes handguns, rifles, and shotguns. An “illegal knife” means any knife with a blade over a certain number of inches, hand instruments that are designed to cut or stab another person by being thrown, daggers, bowie knives, swords, or spears. Short, personal knives, such as pen knives or pocket knives, are generally not considered illegal knives. A “club” is defined as any instrument that is made, designed, or adapted for inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person. The word “club” includes blackjacks, nightsticks, tomahawks, or nun-chucks. “Prohibited weapons” include explosive weapons, machine guns, short-barrel firearms, silencers, switchblade knives, knuckles, armor-piercing ammunition, and zip guns.
Certain persons are exempt from prosecution for the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited. These persons include peace officers and law enforcement officers, members of the United States military, guards and security officers, and officers of the court. However, this exemption does not apply to possession of weapons in a secured area of an airport.
A person who is charged with the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited may claim as a defense that he or she possessed the weapon while driving by the premises in a vehicle. A person who is charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon in a secured area of an airport may claim as a defense that he or she was discharging his or her duties as a member of the United States military or as a guard or a security officer. It is not a defense to prosecution for the unlawful possession of a weapon in a secured area of an airport that a person possessed a valid state license to carry a concealed weapon.
A person who is charged with the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited may also claim as a defense that the weapon did not meet the statutory definition of a weapon or that the weapon was an antique.
The offense of unlawful possession of a weapon where prohibited is normally punished as a felony.
Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.