The possession of a criminal instrument is an inchoate offense. This category of offense applies to conduct that the government considers criminal even though the person being charged may not have harmed anyone. What makes the conduct criminal is the fact that harm would have or could have occurred had the law not prevented it.
As you will see from the explanations below, the prosecution must always prove you used the instrument with criminal intent. Proving criminal intent, or mens rea as it is called in criminal law, is often the most tenuous aspect of the prosecution’s case. As a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, I will study the prosecution’s case in detail and highlight the weaknesses of their evidence of your criminal intent. You cannot be convicted of possession of a criminal instrument if your lawyer can demonstrate that you were possibly acting with lawful intentions.
What The Law Says About Possessing Criminal Instruments
Possessing criminal instruments is defined in Pennsylvania Criminal Code, Title 18 Chapter 9, §907, which broadly states that:
A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he or she possesses it, with the intent to employ it criminally,
- Any instrument of crime (Anything specially made for or adapted to criminal use, OR anything that can be used for criminal purposes and possessed by a person under circumstances not appropriate for the lawful uses it may have)
- A concealed firearm or other weapon (Anything capable of lethal use and possessed by a person under circumstances not appropriate for the lawful uses it may have)
A person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he or she uses in the course of committing, or possesses with the intent of committing a felony,
- Body armor (Any protective covering for the body or a body part that is made of any material designed to resist or deflect bullets, knives, or any other weapon)
In Pennsylvania, a first-degree misdemeanor comes with up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, or both if convicted. As for third-degree misdemeanors, they come with up to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
How a Pittsburgh Criminal Instruments Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been charged with the possession of a criminal instrument, your first step should be to consult with an experienced firearms lawyer who can review the evidence against you and begin preparing your defense. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC has successfully defended against many possession of criminal instrument charges, and we’re available for a free consultation regarding your case today.
We know how the criminal justice system works and can put you in the best position possible given your circumstances. We’ll help you understand the charges against you and then walk you through your options. Once we decide on the best strategy for your case, we will fight on your behalf until justice is done. Call Mike Worgul today a (412) 281-2146 for a free initial consultation.