Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Pennsylvania

We handle most crimes, including the use of weapons of mass destruction. When facing any criminal charges, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn your rights and options. Below you will find the actual text of the Pennsylvania statute governing weapons of mass destruction charges in Pennsylvania. This was current as of July 2010. Our Pittsburgh criminal defense law firm is primarily in the business of fighting for defendants’ rights; we are not in the business of updating websites, but wanted to at least give you some information for educational purposes, only. You should talk to a lawyer for legal advice to fully learn your rights in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. We will explain to you the weapons-related crime, possible punishment, and all your options.

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2716. Weapons of mass destruction
(a) UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OR MANUFACTURE.– A person commits an offense if the person, without lawful authority to do so, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly possesses or manufactures a weapon of mass destruction.

(b) USE.– A person commits an offense if the person, without lawful authority to do so, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly sells, purchases, transports or causes another to transport, delivers or causes to be delivered or uses a weapon of mass destruction and if such action causes any of the following:

(1) Illness or injury to another individual.

(2) Damage to or disruption of a water or food supply or public natural resources, including waterways, State forests and parks, surface water, groundwater and wildlife.

(3) Evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation.

(c) GRADING.–

(1) A first offense under subsection (a) constitutes a felony of the second degree. A subsequent offense under subsection (a) constitutes a felony of the first degree.

(2) An offense under subsection (b)(1) constitutes a felony of the first degree. If the offense results in the death of an individual, the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.

(3) An offense under subsection (b)(2) or (3) constitutes a felony of the first degree.

(d) RESTITUTION.– A person convicted of violating this section shall, in addition to any other sentence imposed or restitution ordered under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9721(c) (relating to sentencing generally), be sentenced to pay restitution in an amount equal to the cost of the evacuation, including, but not limited to, fire and police response; emergency medical service or emergency preparedness response; and transportation of an individual from the building, place of assembly or facility.

(e) PRESERVATION OF PRIVATE REMEDIES.– No judgment or order of restitution shall debar a person, by appropriate action, to recover from the offender as otherwise provided by law, provided that any civil award shall be reduced by the amount paid under the criminal judgment.

(f) POSSESSION.– For purposes of this section, an individual shall not be deemed to be in possession of an agent if the individual is naturally exposed to or innocently infected or contaminated with the agent.

(g) ENFORCEMENT.–

(1) In addition to the authority conferred upon the Attorney General under sections 205 and 206 of the act of October 15, 1980 (P.L. 950, No. 164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, the Attorney General has the authority to investigate and to institute criminal proceedings for a violation of this section committed:

(i) anywhere in this Commonwealth;

(ii) in different counties; or

(iii) in this Commonwealth and another jurisdiction.

(2) Each district attorney has the authority to investigate and to institute criminal proceedings for a violation of this section.

(h) JURISDICTION.– No person charged with a violation of this section shall have standing to challenge the authority of the Attorney General under subsection (g)(1). If a challenge is made in violation of this subsection, the challenge shall be dismissed, and no relief shall be available in the courts of this Commonwealth to the person making the challenge.

(i) DEFINITIONS.– As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Biological agent.” A natural or genetically engineered pathogen, toxin, virus, bacteria, prion, fungus or microorganism which causes infections, disease or bodily harm.

“Bomb.” An explosive device used for unlawful purposes.

“Chemical agent.” Any of the following:

(1) A nerve agent, including tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD), GF and VX.

(2) A choking agent, including phosgene (CG) and diphosgene (DP).

(3) A blood agent, including hydrogen cyanide (AC), cyanogen chloride (CK) and arsine (SA).

(4) A blister agent. This paragraph includes:

(i) Mustard (H).

(ii) Sulfur mustard (HD).

(iii) HN-1.

(iv) HN-2.

(v) Nitrogen mustard (HN-3).

(vi) An arsenical, such as lewisite (L).

(vii) An urticant, such as CX.

(viii) An incapacitating agent, such as B2.

(5) Any other chemical element or compound which causes death or bodily harm.

“Nuclear agent.” A radioactive material.

“Weapon of mass destruction.” A biological agent, bomb, chemical agent or nuclear agent.

In addition to the statutory language above, there may also be case law interpreting virtually every word of the above law. You need to know what the updated case law provides. Call our expert lawyers for a free consultation!

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