Pepper spray and mace are common tools sold for self-defense purposes. They are composed of chemicals designed to induce irritation and burning when sprayed in someone’s face, effectively disabling them. It is not unusual to see people carrying mace or pepper spray in their bags or even on key chains for personal protection. However, misusing these chemicals can lead to some unpleasant legal consequences.
In Utah, there are generally no major restrictions on buying and possessing mace or pepper spray. Both are marketed as self-defense products and can be purchased in a number of places. However, there are some restrictions. For example, you typically have to be 18 to purchase pepper spray, but minors are not prohibited from having pepper spray in their possession. Mace and pepper spray may also legally be considered “dangerous weapons,” and there are restrictions on certain groups of people buying and owning dangerous weapons.
If you find yourself in legal trouble in connection to buying or owning mace or pepper spray, our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help. Speak to our team at Overson Law, PLLC about scheduling a free case review. Call our offices today at (801) 758-2287.
Can I Legally Purchase and Possess Mace or Pepper Spray in Utah?
In general, it is perfectly legal to buy and possess pepper spray or mace in the State of Utah. In fact, these tools are commonly sold at ordinary retail stores and are not very expensive. The restrictions on buying and transferring firearms, such as background checks and waiting periods, do not apply to pepper spray or mace. However, it might not always be possible to simply walk into a store and buy pepper spray or mace.
While pepper spray and mace can be legally purchased quite easily, you must meet certain conditions first. A person buying these tools must usually be at least 18 years old. Minors may not buy pepper spray on their own. However, parents can purchase pepper spray or mace and give it to their children without running into legal problems.
Similar to guns and firearms, you must have no criminal convictions when buying mace or pepper spray. While these tools are perfectly legal, they are also dangerous and designed to cause injury to would-be attackers. As you will read below, there are restrictions on people who have criminal backgrounds from buying mace or pepper spray.
If you are still unsure about how to purchase mace or pepper spray, our Sandy criminal defense attorneys can advise you of any local city or town ordinances. While the state imposes minimal restrictions, a particular city or town might have stricter rules.
Pepper Spray and Mace as a Dangerous Weapon in Utah
Pepper spray and mace are clearly not classified as firearms. However, they are still very dangerous and subject to certain regulations. The law in Utah establishes restrictions on firearms and anything that could be considered a “dangerous weapon.” According to Utah Code § 76-10-501(6)(a)(ii), a dangerous weapon may be anything that can cause death or serious bodily injury when used in the manner for which it is intended. Pepper spray and mace are very much intended to be used against other people and can cause serious harm like burning, irritation, and even blisters.
The law restricts certain groups of people from not only purchasing and owning firearms but also dangerous weapons, including mace and pepper spray. There are two categories of restrictions. You might be classified as a Category I or II restricted person based on your criminal record, any controlled substance abuse issues, mental health, and multiple other factors.
If you are unsure if you are a restricted person, call our South Jordan criminal defense attorneys for help. You might be considered restricted if you have a criminal history, although not every conviction makes someone a restricted person.
Penalties in Utah Related to Mace and Pepper Spray as a Dangerous Weapon
The penalties for buying or possessing a dangerous weapon like pepper spray or mace include serious criminal charges. Category I restricted people may face more serious consequences because this category is intended for more serious offenders. A Category I restricted person may be charged with a third-degree felony for buying or possessing a dangerous weapon, including pepper spray or mace. A third-degree felony may be punished by up to 5 years in prison.
A Category II restricted person who breaks the law by buying or owning a dangerous weapon like pepper spray or mace may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Such an offense may lead to a jail sentence of up to 364 days.
There may also be restrictions on where you can carry a dangerous weapon like pepper spray or mace. For example, according to Utah Code § 76-10-505.5, you cannot carry a dangerous weapon on school premises. A violation of this law may lead to charges for Class B misdemeanors. Similarly, restricted places may include secure areas like hospitals, airports, and government buildings. Call our West Valley City criminal defense lawyers if you are facing criminal charges in connection with pepper spray or mace.
How Likely Am I to be Charged for a Pepper Spray or Mace Offense in Utah
The penalties listed above might sound very severe for a seemingly minor offense. After all, pepper spray and mace are non-deadly and legal for almost anyone to have. While it is certainly possible to be charged and convicted of illegally buying or owning pepper spray and mace, it is probably more likely that these charges will be connected to other more serious offenses.
Category I and II restricted persons are not only prohibited from having dangerous weapons but also deadly firearms. The police are definitely more keen to bust people for having illegal firearms than pepper spray. You are more likely to draw police suspicion and be criminally charged for pepper spray if you also have illegal firearms. Additionally, using pepper spray as part of a crime, like assault, is also more likely to lead to criminal charges than mere possession alone.
Remember, while the police tend to focus on larger and more serious problems, they are fully authorized to arrest you for something as mundane as illegal possession of pepper spray or mace. If you face criminal charges for such an offense and possibly additional, more serious charges, call our Utah criminal defense lawyers for help.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with crimes related to pepper spray or mace, our Taylorsville criminal defense attorneys are prepared to advise you. Talk to our staff about your case in a free case review at Overson Law, PLLC. Call our dedicated team at (801) 758-2287 to get started.