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The ORS Unlawful Use of a Weapon Guide 

The ORS Unlawful Use Of A Weapon Guide

When it comes to the unlawful use of a weapon in Oregon, the legal landscape can be quite confusing. In this post, we're zeroing in on this pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon's legal framework that regulates weapon use and possession. We'll unpack the details of what this law encompasses, the consequences of non-compliance, and the potential defenses available to those accused. 

What is Unlawful Use of a Weapon in Oregon? 

In Oregon, the unlawful use of a weapon is a criminal offense that involves using, attempting to use, or threatening to use a weapon in a manner that could cause harm or intimidation. Specifically, under Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 166.220, a person commits the crime of unlawful use of a weapon if they: 

1. Attempt to use unlawfully against another, or carry or possess with intent to use unlawfully against another, any dangerous or deadly weapon. 

2. Intentionally discharges a firearm, blowgun, bow and arrow, crossbow, or explosive device within city limits in a manner that could endanger persons or property, except when done in self-defense or at a shooting range or other designated area for such discharge. 

3. Intentionally discharges a firearm at or in the direction of any vehicle, building, structure, or aircraft, except in self-defense or in specific lawful circumstances. 

What Constitutes a Weapon? 

The definition of a weapon in Oregon is broad and can include a variety of objects. According to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 161.015(6), a weapon is defined as "any instrument, article or substance specifically designed for and presently capable of causing death or serious physical injury." This definition encompasses firearms, knives, and other objects specifically designed to inflict harm. 

Dangerous weapon: Any weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance that, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

Deadly weapon: Any instrument, article, or substance specifically designed for and presently capable of causing death or serious physical injury, including firearms and certain types of knives (e.g., switchblades, daggers, and ballistic knives). 

The definition of a weapon can also include objects not traditionally considered weapons if they are used in a manner intended to cause harm. For example, a baseball bat or a piece of pipe could be considered a weapon if used to assault someone. The determination of whether an object is considered a weapon often depends on the context and circumstances of its use. 

Penalties and Punishments 

The unlawful use of a weapon in Oregon is typically charged as a Class C felony. The penalties for a Class C felony can include: 

Imprisonment: Up to 5 years in state prison. 

Fines: Up to $125,000. 

Probation: In some cases, a judge may sentence an offender to probation instead of or in addition to prison time. 

Restitution: The court may also order the offender to pay restitution to any victims for damages or injuries caused by the offense. 

Possible Defenses 

Possible defenses to a charge of unlawful use of a weapon in Oregon might include: 

1. Self-Defense: Arguing that the weapon was used in a situation where the defendant reasonably believed it was necessary to defend themselves or another person from imminent harm. 

2. Lack of Intent: Demonstrating that the defendant did not intend to use the weapon unlawfully or did not possess the weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully. 

3. Mistaken Identity: Arguing that the defendant was not the person who committed the offense. 

4. Unlawful Search and Seizure: Challenging the evidence based on constitutional grounds, such as arguing that the weapon was discovered during an illegal search by law enforcement.

5. Duress: Claiming that the defendant was forced to commit the act under threat of immediate harm. 

What To Do If You’re Charged? 

If you're charged with unlawful use of a weapon in Oregon, it's crucial to take immediate steps to protect your legal rights and build a strong defense. First and foremost, remain calm and avoid making any statements or admissions to law enforcement or other parties without legal representation. Anything you say can be used against you in court. Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and legal options. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance on the legal process, help you understand the charges against you, and develop a defense strategy tailored to your situation. 

How it Affects Your Gun Rights 

Being convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in Oregon can have significant consequences for your gun rights, even if you weren’t using a gun. As a Class C felony, this offense can result in the loss of your right to own or possess firearms. Under both federal and state law, felons are generally prohibited from possessing guns. This means that if you are convicted, you may be required to surrender any firearms you currently own, and you will be barred from purchasing or acquiring new firearms.

Additionally, the conviction could impact your ability to obtain or renew a concealed handgun license (CHL) in Oregon. Background checks conducted as part of the CHL application process will reveal felony convictions, which can disqualify you from obtaining a license. It's important to understand that these restrictions on gun rights are typically long-term consequences and can be challenging to reverse. In some cases, individuals may be able to restore their gun rights through legal processes such as expungement or setting aside the conviction, but this is dependent on various factors, including the specifics of the case and the individual's criminal history. 

How a Lawyer Can Help 

At Oregon Gun Law, we understand the intricacies of the legal system and the importance of a robust defense strategy. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to advocating on your behalf and providing the support you need throughout the legal process. We can also advise you on how a conviction might impact your gun rights and explore options to mitigate these consequences. 

If you're facing charges of unlawful use of a weapon or other criminal charges in Oregon, our team is here to guide you through every step of the process. With our expertise and commitment, we aim to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

*Nothing herein constitutes legal advice. You should obtain independent legal counsel regarding your specific factual situation.


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