Possessing Criminal Instruments


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With guns usually cheap and easy to obtain in Philadelphia, many people are armed when they commit crimes. But under Pennsylvania law, if you have a criminal instrument like a firearm that you plan to use in a robbery or other crime, even if it not loaded you can face years in prison.

What You Need To Know About Possessing Criminal Instruments

  • In Pennsylvania, it’s a misdemeanor of the first degree to possess an instrument of crime, such as a firearm, with the intent to use it for a criminal purpose.
  • It’s a crime to conceal weapons you intend to use criminally on your person.
  • The weapons covered include all weaponry that could be used to kill someone, such as guns and switchblades.
  • The law also includes guns that are not loaded or lack a clip or other component to render them immediately operable.
  • The Pennsylvania courts have held that replica guns are also potentially deadly because of the perception that they could cause injury and death.
  • If you wear body armor while you commit a felony crime, you can be charged with possessing criminal instruments.
  • If you are convicted, you can face up to five years in prison.

What To Do If You Are Charged

If you are charged with possessing criminal instruments, you will need to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney very quickly.

As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you. If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.

Look around to see if there are any witnesses who can substantiate that you did not intend to use the weapon for any criminal purpose.

What Your Lawyer Can Do

Your attorney will examine the issues in your case, such as:

  • Asking the police what the arresting officer believed you were going to do with the gun.
  • Determining if the prosecution can prove that your intention was to use the weapon for committing a crime.

Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.

Be sure to give your attorney a list of everyone who was a witness to the action that resulted in your charges.

How A Lawyer Will Help

When you are up against a possessing criminal instruments charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need a defense attorney who can clearly explain your options and help you achieve the best outcome for your situation.

Pennsylvania Possessing Criminal Instruments Law

Possessing criminal instruments is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18 Chapter 61. Read the code here.

Questions? Contact us today.

Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that that the charges should be dismissed. If the prosecution has a strong case we can negotiate to lower your charges and potential sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.