Can a toy gun be a deadly weapon?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was watching a show the other day where they were talking about a guy who robbed a bank with a toy gun.

That got me to thinking — can you get arrested for “armed” robbery if the so-called weapon you use is just a toy? It seems to me that you shouldn’t be able to, because you can’t really hurt anyone with a toy gun or knife.


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Dear Wondering: To be convicted of what is now called “aggravated robbery” on the basis of having a weapon, a person must have a deadly weapon under their control and display it, brandish it, indicate that he has it, or use it.

Ohio code section 2923.11 defines a deadly weapon as any instrument, devise, or thing capable of inflicting death, something adapted for use as a weapon or used as a weapon.

It may appear that a toy gun could not fit that definition, a Court of Appeals opinion in State v. Bonner said that where the defendant struck someone in the head with a toy gun, knocking the victim’s glasses off, the defendant could be convicted of aggravated assault because he could have bludgeoned the victim to death with the toy.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.