In Detroit, paintball enthusiasts began staging mini gun fights and drive-bys with paintball guns, instead of real guns. Proponents of these paintball shootouts argue that instead of real violence, communities and gangs that were at odds with one another are now being brought together in a fun, albeit messy, way. But what began as an inter-city game in Detroit has spread to dozens of other cities across the U.S., including here in Philadelphia. News media has vigorously covered so-called paintball wars, often portraying the players as dangerous gang members, whether they are or not, and generally painting a negative picture about the antics of these mostly young, black men. In some cases, innocent bystanders have been hit by stray paintballs as well as the intentional targets, as is allegedly the case in South Philadelphia, according to ABC 6 Action News. But whether you were in a paintball fight with your own friends and designated, consensual adversaries; you were shooting the side of a building or abandoned vehicle, or you hit a bystander with a paintball, police are more eager than ever to get in on the action by pressing criminal charges against you.
Paintball Offenses in Pennsylvania Stem From a Summary Offense Fine to Potential Jail Time
As per Pennsylvania Criminal Code § 2707.2, the following is illegal:
- Carrying a paintball gun in a vehicle on a highway unless it is empty or the propellant source is disconnected or disabled, the gun is secured in a wrapper, or it is not accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle; and
- Discharging a paintball at a person who is not participating in a paintball game or activity.
Violations of this statute constitute a summary offense, which is neither a misdemeanor nor a felony. However, the use of a paintball gun can also be construed as criminal mischief, which can be penalized by a third degree felony charge and up to seven years in state prison. Moreover, if property damage has allegedly occurred, the defendant can be charged with destruction of public or private property. If anyone was hit, whether they were seriously wounded or were simply hit in the leg and suffered a minor welt, the defendant could even be charged with assault. These offenses quickly add up, and you could be looking at spending actual time in jail or prison all for playing a game.
Call a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Do not throw your life away by retaining anyone but the most qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Paintball games may have been lighthearted, with no ill will towards anyone or anything, yet the intense media coverage has encouraged police across the country to crack down hard on paintballers. We encourage you to call the Philadelphia criminal defense team at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin today for professional and dedicated legal help.