Unlawful Possession of Offensive Weapon or Instrument in Jail

Image credit: James E. Knopf.

Sahar Adatia.

A 39-year-old woman from Missouri in the United States has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for unlawfully smuggling a loaded mini gun into a county jail inside her vagina.

Amy Wilhite, from Moberly, pleaded guilty to the offence on Monday 19th April 2021 and was handed the decade-long jail term to be served in Missouri state prison.

According to Missouri Department of Correction’s records, Ms Wilhite was originally arrested on February 14 on drug and weapons charges, following which she was booked into Boone County Jail.

Once held at the facility, the woman was submitted to both a pat and strip search, and although being “thorough”, guards failed to learn of the small gun that was buried inside her body.

Nevertheless, 17 days after Ms Wilhite’s admission into Boone County Jail, officers stumbled across the smuggled firearm wrapped in plastic sitting amongst her possessions in her jail cell.

The gun was discovered to be fully loaded with five rounds and believed to be a North American Arms 22-calibre revolver. 

It measured at four inches long, 2.38 inches tall and .88 inches wide, whilst weighing 4.6 ounces.

In a probable cause statement, investigators alleged that Wilhite had “removed the firearm from her body and concealed it within her personal belongings”.

Ms Wilhite was thus deemed to be a “danger to the community or to any other person” and “pose a danger to a crime victim”.

Gun Smuggler Admits to Offence but Blames Inmate, says “She Was Only Holding it for Another Female Detainee”

Ultimately, during questioning at the jail, Ms Wilhite admitted to possessing the gun, however appealed “she was only holding it for another female detainee”.

This was refuted by fellow inmates in the woman’s housing unit, who, during the course of several interviews, all maintained Ms Wilhite “was in possession of the firearm”.  

Meanwhile, according to state records, this is not the first time Ms Wilhite has served time in jail.

Since 2007, the woman has been in and out of jail in Missouri for a myriad of offences, including attempted burglary, driving while intoxicated, marijuana possession, theft, first-degree burglary and passing a bad check.

In fact, on April 19 as Ms Wilhite pleaded guilty to smuggling the mini gun into Boone County Jail inside her vagina, she also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance, and was sentenced to five years for each count.

This will run concurrently to her 10-year sentence.   

It is understood Ms Wilhite is currently being held at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Centre in Vandalia.

Interestingly, this is not the first time an inmate has been convicted of attempting to enter a prison facility with a gun concealed in their vagina or body cavity.

In 2017, a female prisoner at Santa Clara County Jail in California successfully managed to smuggle a 22-calibre pistol into a jail holding cell.

The gun was later discovered by officers wrapped in toilet paper on a bathroom floor.

Meanwhile, in 2012, a man from North Carolina also succeeded in smuggling a 10-inch long .38 revolver into a prison facility by hiding it in his rectum. 

In fact, despite the man being demanded to “squat and cough” to make sure there was nothing concealed in a body cavity, he managed to pass the test with no hitches. 

Nevertheless, the following day, prison guards unearthed the large weapon in his jail cell. 

While the weapon was found to be unloaded, it still underwent test-firing by officials, who deemed the gun to be in operational condition.

Meanwhile, the prisoner was forced to receive medical treatment for possible injuries sustained to his rectum in the smuggling ordeal.

Our criminal lawyers Sydney team have outlined the law on this topic below. For specific advice, please get in touch with our team.

Unlawful Possession of Offensive Weapon or Instrument in Jail

As most of us would assume, it is against the law to be in unlawful possession of an offensive weapon or instrument in a place of detention.

If you are in NSW, this is reflected in section 253E of the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999, which prescribes a maximum penalty of a $5,500 fine, or imprisonment for two years, or both, for an offence.

As per section 253E, an offence takes place where a person, without reasonable excuse, has in their possession an offensive weapon or instrument in a place of detention.

 If a person is convicted of an offence, the court has the power to, in addition to any penalty it may impose, make an order that the offensive weapon or instrument be forfeited to the Crown, and the weapon or instrument is forfeited accordingly.

An “offensive weapon or instrument“, as per the section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), refers to a dangerous weapon, or anything that is made or adapted for offensive purposes, or anything that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used for offensive purposes or is capable of causing harm.

This includes firearms or imitation firearms.

It should also be noted that other than offensive weapons, in NSW, certain other items are absolutely prohibited from entering a prison or place of detention. This includes the offence of smuggling illegal things into a New South Wales prison.

These include drugs, alcohol, mobile phones, syringes, tobacco, lighters, sim cards and computers.Should you be caught smuggling any of these items you can face very serious penalties, which include substantial fines and even jail time.

About Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

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