Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Pepper Spray, Self-Defense, and the Law


Pepper spray can be carried by the citizens of Massachusetts for the purpose of personal protection and self-defense. However, it is a crime to use pepper spray in the commission or perpetration of a crime. If you have been accused of using pepper spray in connection with a crime, you should consult a criminal defense attorney.

Pepper spray is also referred to as OC spray. It is a chemical that causes pain and discomfort in the eyes. Pepper spray is an inflammatory instrument that inflames tissues. It causes the eyes to close immediately and tissues of the nose and throat to swell. The effects of pepper spray last about 45 minutes.

It is often used by law enforcement and by the general public for self-defense. Many women use it for self-defense against criminals and potential attackers. Some women carry canisters in their purses or pockets when walking alone at night.

Pepper spray can be a useful self-defense mechanism. However, it can be used as a weapon against you, as well. If you accidentally misread a situation that was not an attack and use pepper spray, you could find yourself in legal trouble. It is important to understand how and when to use pepper spray. You should be well-versed on the law governing pepper spray in your area. If you are unsure about pepper spray laws and issues involving personal safety, self-defense, and pepper spray, you should consult with a qualified attorney.

A couple of years ago, the law concerning pepper spray changed in the Commonwealth. Now, Bostonians and other Commonwealth citizens can buy and carry pepper spray without having a firearm identification card (FID). Prior to the law change, individuals seeking to carry pepper spray in Massachusetts had to complete an application process. Firearms dealers may sell self-defense sprays to any person age 18 or over unless otherwise disqualified.

The Massachusetts legislation defines self-defense spray as Chemical Mace or any instrument that contains or emits a liquid, gas or powder created to deprive someone of his power or strength. The law prohibits the unlicensed sale of pepper spray. Retailers are required to be properly licensed under the Commonwealth's ammunition sale law. Violators could face punishment of six months to two years in jail.

The law may restrict certain people from purchasing pepper spray because of their mental health, criminal records, or involvement in substance abuse. Some criminal convictions and drug or weapon offenses may keep people from possessing pepper spray. Individuals who have been confined to a mental hospital or institution or treated for drug addiction or alcoholism may not be allowed to carry pepper spray in Massachusetts.

If you have been charged or arrested for illegal use, sale or possession of pepper spray, the consequences can be serious. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you and your family with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about you and provides personalized legal services in every case. Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.