General Provisions

ORS 161.015
General definitions

As used in chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, and ORS 166.635 (Discharging weapon or throwing objects at trains), unless the context requires otherwise:


“Dangerous weapon” means any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.


“Deadly weapon” means any instrument, article or substance specifically designed for and presently capable of causing death or serious physical injury.


“Deadly physical force” means physical force that under the circumstances in which it is used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.


“Peace officer” means:


A member of the Oregon State Police;


A sheriff, constable, marshal, municipal police officer or reserve officer as defined in ORS 133.005 (Definitions for ORS 133), or a police officer commissioned by a university under ORS 352.121 (University police departments and officers) or 353.125 (Creation of police department and commission of police officers);


An investigator of the Criminal Justice Division of the Department of Justice or investigator of a district attorney’s office;


A humane special agent as defined in ORS 181A.345 (Humane special agents to enforce animal welfare laws under direction of law enforcement agency);


A regulatory specialist exercising authority described in ORS 471.775 (Service of subpoenas) (2);


An authorized tribal police officer as defined in ORS 181A.940 (Definitions for ORS 181A); and


Any other person designated by law as a peace officer.


“Person” means a human being and, where appropriate, a public or private corporation, an unincorporated association, a partnership, a government or a governmental instrumentality.


“Physical force” includes, but is not limited to, the use of an electrical stun gun, tear gas or mace.


“Physical injury” means impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.


“Serious physical injury” means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.


“Possess” means to have physical possession or otherwise to exercise dominion or control over property.


“Public place” means a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, hallways, lobbies and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and premises used in connection with public passenger transportation. [1971 c.743 §3; 1973 c.139 §1; 1979 c.656 §3; 1991 c.67 §33; 1993 c.625 §4; 1995 c.651 §5; 2011 c.506 §22; 2011 c.641 §2; 2011 c.644 §§23,46; 2012 c.54 §§16,17; 2012 c.67 §§9,10; 2013 c.180 §§23,24; 2015 c.174 §11; 2015 c.614 §§147,148]
Note: Legislative Counsel has substituted “chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971,” for the words “this Act” in sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21 and 36, chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, compiled as 161.015 (General definitions), 161.025 (Purposes), 161.035 (Application of Criminal Code), 161.045 (Limits on application), 161.055 (Burden of proof as to defenses), 161.085 (Definitions with respect to culpability), 161.195 (“Justification” described), 161.200 (Choice of evils), 161.205 (Use of physical force generally) and 161.295 (Effect of qualifying mental disorder). Specific ORS references have not been substituted, pursuant to 173.160 (Powers and duties of Legislative Counsel in preparing editions for publication). These sections may be determined by referring to the 1971 Comparative Section Table located in Volume 22 of ORS.

Notes of Decisions

The human hand is not included within the definition of a “dangerous weapon” within the meaning of this section. State v. Wier, 22 Or App 549, 540 P2d 394 (1975)

A theatre which admits persons 18 years or older and where patrons are forewarned as to the nature of the performance is not a public place. State v. Brooks, 275 Or 171, 550 P2d 440 (1976)

Defendant, who had controlled substance injected into his arm, did not “possess” drug so as to have dominion or control over it. State v. Downes, 31 Or App 1183, 572 P2d 1328 (1977)

Testimony, that obscene matter was located in cabinet behind defendant’s desk, in his office, in warehouse owned by corporation of which defendant was part owner, was sufficient for jury to infer that defendant has possession of obscene matter. State v. Cossett, 34 Or App 113, 578 P2d 423 (1978), Sup Ct review denied

Scalding hot water, which caused injury to child, was “dangerous weapon” within meaning of this section. State v. Jacobs, 34 Or App 755, 579 P2d 881 (1978), Sup Ct review denied

One who has purpose of forcibly raping another has purpose of causing “physical injury” within meaning of this section. State v. Strickland, 36 Or App 119, 584 P2d 310 (1978)

Whether instrument constitutes dangerous weapon is not established by resulting injury but rather by injury that could have resulted under circumstances, so whether can opener was dangerous weapon was jury question. State v. Gale, 36 Or App 275, 583 P2d 1169 (1978)

Where only injury suffered by victim was torn shirt, there was no physical injury within meaning of this section. State v. Lindsey, 45 Or App 607, 609 P2d 386 (1980)

Where victim received small cut, which caused her no pain, from flying glass caused by defendant’s breaking of rear window of pickup truck in which she was sitting, she had no impairment of physical condition and therefore no “physical injury” within meaning of this section. State v. Rice, 48 Or App 115, 616 P2d 538 (1980), Sup Ct review denied

Where defendant hit victim with gas can and kicked him in the arm, where victim reported no sensation other than that it “hurt”, where there was no indication of bruising or other injury and victim did not seek medical treatment, evidence was insufficient to find victim suffered “physical injury.” State v. Capwell, 52 Or App 43, 627 P2d 905 (1981)

Since statutory definition of dangerous weapon depends on circumstances in which instrument was used, it was jury question whether under the circumstances article was used in manner capable of causing death or serious physical injury and it was not necessary that indictment allege that defendant intended vehicle to be dangerous weapon. State v. Lopez, 56 Or App 179, 641 P2d 596 (1982), Sup Ct review denied

Automobile operated “recklessly,” as defined by ORS 161.085, can be “dangerous weapon” for purposes of assault statute, ORS 163.165. State v. Hill, 298 Or 270, 692 P2d 100 (1984)

Where defendant threw container at victim and it hit victim in face and victim testified that blow hurt, caused redness, swelling and bruising, victim suffered “physical injury” within meaning of this section. State ex rel Juv. Dept v. Salmon, 83 Or App 238, 730 P2d 1285 (1986)

Jury could properly find serious physical injury where there was medical evidence from which jury could conclude beyond reasonable doubt that victim’s mouth and teeth are bodily organs and that there was protracted loss or impairment of those organs. State v. Byers, 95 Or App 139, 768 P2d 414 (1989)

Ordinary object may be classified as dangerous weapon as result of use to which object is put. State v. Bell, 96 Or App 74, 771 P2d 305 (1989), Sup Ct review denied; State v. Reed, 101 Or App 277, 790 P2d 551 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Trial court did not err in denying motion for judgment of acquittal in trial for robbery in first degree where factfinder could have found under circumstances that “small, hard object” with which victim was struck constituted dangerous weapon. State v. Allen, 108 Or App 402, 816 P2d 639 (1991)

It is injury that could have resulted, not that which did result, that establishes dangerousness of weapon. State v. Allen, 108 Or App 402, 816 P2d 639 (1991)

“Impairment of physical condition” means harm to body that results in reduction of person’s ability to use body or bodily organ. State v. Higgins, 165 Or App 442, 998 P2d 222 (2000)

Under definition of “possess,” proof of physical control does not involve same attributes of dominion and control required to prove constructive possession. State v. Fries, 344 Or 541, 185 P3d 453 (2008)

For purposes of defining “physical injury”, impairment of physical condition occurs if harm prevents body from functioning in normal manner. State v. Hart, 222 Or App 285, 193 P3d 42 (2008)

Term “dangerous weapon” connotes something external to human body. State v. Kuperus, 241 Or App 605, 251 P3d 235 (2011)

Term “police officer” includes tribal police officers. State v. Kurtz, 350 Or 65, 249 P3d 1271 (2011)

Whether “physical injury” as used in this section occurs is based on combination of character of affected bodily function and degree and duration of impairment. Where defendant held pillow over victim’s mouth and nose and prevented victim from breathing for five seconds and caused victim to fear for victim’s life, defendant caused physical injury by impairment of victim’s physical condition. State v. Hendricks, 273 Or App 1, 359 P3d 294 (2015), Sup Ct review denied

For purpose of deadly weapon definition, “presently” capable of causing death or serious injury means to be capable immediately, without hesitation or delay. Norwood v. Premo, 287 Or App 443, 403 P3d 502 (2017), Sup Ct review denied

Attorney General Opinions

Lawfulness of Multnomah County ordinance regulating public possession of firearms in unincorporated areas of county (1990), Vol 46, p 362

Law Review Citations

51 OLR 484, 485, 579, 591, 592 (1972)


Last accessed
Mar. 11, 2023