For many crimes, such as bank robberies, those facing charges could get a harsher sentence if they committed the crime with a dangerous weapon. The court sees a difference between walking into a bank and trying to reach over and grab money from a teller as opposed to pointing a gun at the teller and instructing them to fill a bag with cash.
Now, it is clear that a robbery committed with a loaded gun qualifies as a crime carried out with a dangerous weapon. But what if the gun wasn’t loaded to begin with? That makes it realistically about as dangerous as a club or any other fist-sized piece of metal. Does it still fulfill the legal definition of a dangerous weapon?
It does, thanks to a ruling by the Supreme Court. While an unloaded gun technically may not be all that dangerous, the person at whom it is being pointed does not know that. They believe the threat to their life is real. You can still get charges. The same goes for crimes carried out with a toy gun that has been modified to look real, for instance, or with a fake bomb that turns out to be a hoax. If the intent is to make the item appear as dangerous as the real thing, it can still lead to these serious charges, even if the danger was never quite as great as those involved believed at the time.
If you’re facing these types of charges, you need to know why you’re facing them, what defense options you have and exactly what steps you need to take next.