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Updated December 18, 2010, from the printed books.
Note: Pennsylvania is the only state of which the criminal code is not available online.
Pennsylvania - Pa. C.S.A. 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) Exception.--
It is a defense under this section for the defendant to
prove by a preponderance of evidence that he possessed of
dealt with the weapon solely as a curio or in a dramatic
performance..., 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.
(c) Definition.--As used in this section "offensive
weapon" means... any... metal knuckles, dagger, knife, razor
or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an
automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism,
Pennsylvania case law -
Pa. C.S.A. 18.908. Prohibited offensive weapons:
Testimony of police officers unsupported by any legal
authority, subjectively stating that "Cobra" knives sold by
defendant did not serve any common lawful purpose and
that, as an officer he feared that, because young adults
were attracted to unique look of knives, the knives posed
a great threat to society and had to be prohibited under
prohibited offensive weapons statute, was insufficient to
prove a prima facie case against defendant for selling
prohibited offensive weapons (1996)
Although waved in a crowded barroom, defendant's
folding knife with a seven-inch blade, which was
purchased at a sporting goods store to be used for
hunting and fishing, as not an implement for infliction
of serious bodily injury which served no common
lawful purpose within meaning of this section (1980)
Thirteen-inch butcher knife which defendant carried while
he was charging up a crowded street and threatening to kill
another person had a common, lawful purpose and thus was
not an implement for infliction of serious bodily injury which
served no common lawful purpose, within provision of this
section defining offensive weapons, and defendant was not
guilty of prohibited offensive weapon (1980)
"Wyoming Knife" which consisted of metal handle with
two finger holes incorporating two cutting blades, one
facing outward and the other inward, was hunting
implement which had "common lawful purpose," and thus
such knife was not "offensive weapon" for purposes of this
section proscribing repairing, selling, dealing in, and using
of possessing prohibited offensive weapons (1979)
Where opening knife required lock to be released, and
once lock was released blade could be exposed by flip of
wrist, knife did not have blade which could be "exposed in
an automatic way" within contemplation of this section (1979)
Legislature's use of "otherwise" after "switch, push-button,
[and] spring mechanism" in phrase of this section which
describes as such weapon the blade of which is exposed in
"an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism,
or otherwise," shows that by "otherwise" legislature referred
to knives that were opened by some sort of mechanism which
is not a "switch," "push-button," or "spring" mechanism
but still a mechanism (1979)
Blade of knife that must be exposed by flick of wrist is not
exposed "as if mechanically" or "by itself," as such language
is used in this section (1979)
A simple kitchen knife is not a "prohibited offensive weapon"
Thirty-inch knife found in possession of defendant while in a
high crime urban area in early morning hours had no common
lawful purpose and was a prohibited weapon under this section
enumerating certain types of weapons and including "or other
implement for the infliction of serious bodily harm which
serves no common lawful purpose" (1975)
Knife having its blade folded in handle which, by pressing
pushbutton and by operation of gravity or flip of the wrist,
is opened, is a knife which opens in an automatic way and
was prohibited by 18 P.S. § 4419 (repealed). 1958 Op.Atty.
Gen. No. 86.
In prosecution of inmate for possession of knife, evidence
which established that knife was found in tightly locked
cabinet, accessible only by using key which was in exclusive
possession of defendant, was sufficient to establish that
defendant was in possession of weapon (1983)
Absent proof that knife, which did not have blade "exposed
in an automatic way," had no common lawful purpose,
Commonwealth's evidence in prosecution for for possession
of prohibited offensive weapon failed to prove essential
element that such knife was "offensive weapon" (1979)
Evidence sustained conviction of possessing prohibited
offensive weapon, a butcher knife with seven-inch blade
which was wrapped in paper and was found in back
pocket of defendant who was in subway late at night in
high-crime area (1978)
In prosecution for possession of prohibited offensive
weapon, wherein knife was not admitted into evidence,
evidence was insufficient to prove possession of weapon
coming with this section's definition of "offensive
Pennsylvania case law -
Pa. C.S.A. 18.909. Instruments of crime:
Hunting knife, which was eight and one-half inches
long with five-inch blade was not within purview of
this section defining instruments of crime as anything
specially made or specially adapted for criminal
Defendant possessed an "instrument of crime" so as
to be guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree where
possession of pocketknife, which was a device commonly
used for criminal purposes, was with intent to employ
knife criminally and was under circumstances not
manifestly for appropriate lawful uses (1976)
A paring knife is not a "criminal instrument" in the
absence of evidence of intent to employ it criminally
which would sustain a prosecution for possession of
an instrument of crime.
* * *
Title 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.
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.
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
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) Definition.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall
have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
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.
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, 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:
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
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.
Pennsylvania State Police officers.
Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the various counties who have satisfactorily met
the requirements of the Municipal Police Education and Training Law.
Police officers employed by the Commonwealth who have satisfactorily met the requirements
of the Municipal Police Education and Training Law.
Deputy sheriffs with adequate training as determined by the Pennsylvania Commission
on Crime and Delinquency.
Liquor Control Board agents who have satisfactorily met the requirements of the
Municipal Police Education and Training Law.
Title 18 § 912. Possession of weapon on school property.
(a) Definition.--Notwithstanding the definition of "weapon" in section
907 (relating to possessing instruments of crime), "weapon" for purposes
of this section shall include but not be limited to any knife, cutting instrument,
cutting tool, nun-chuck stick, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument
or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.
(b) Offense defined.--A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses
a weapon in the buildings of, on the grounds of, or in any conveyance providing
transportation to or from any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational
institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department
of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school.
(c) Defense.--It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction
with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful