One of the most basic American rights granted by the Constitution of the United States is the right to own a gun. It’s a hotly debated topic with many complex intricacies. On top of federal laws that regulate firearms, each state has its own laws governing everything from how guns can be bought and sold to who can own guns and what type of guns can be legally purchased or carried.
Like most states, gun laws in Pennsylvania can be confusing. Some guns are altogether illegal. Others are legal and can be purchased by just about anyone in stores like Cabela’s or Wal-Mart. Some guns can be carried in a way without any type of permit while others require one. Some people are also prohibited from carrying any type of gun at all, even if it is meant for self-defense or hunting.
It is possible to be charged with a crime for gun possession alone, but criminal gun charges are most often filed in relation to another crime. Under these circumstances, one is not only at risk of being convicted on a gun charge, but a conviction for another crime will usually mean a more severe sentence if a gun was involved.
If you are being charged with a criminal gun offense, or think you will be, the law offices of Feeney & Gurwitz can help. We are qualified and experienced Pennsylvania gun crimes defense attorneys. We will fight aggressively to protect your rights and get you the best possible outcome for your case.
Common Pennsylvania Guns And Weapons Charges
As criminal defense lawyers, we handle cases involving gun charges often. Some of the most common charges we defend our clients against include:
- Possession of a deadly weapon – This charge is often filed in relation to other charges such as assault and battery, manslaughter, or murder.
- Illegal possession of a firearm – Although registration of firearms, in general, is not required in Pennsylvania, some guns such as machine guns or sawed-off shotguns are illegal. One can also be charged with illegal possession if they obtain a gun through illegal channels.
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a license – Individuals over 21 years old can obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Carrying a concealed gun without a permit in Pennsylvania is a criminal offense.
- Unlawful use of a firearm – There are strict laws that state where guns can legally be fired. Someone can also be charged with unlawful use for carrying a gun in public without a permit to do so.
- Possession of an unregistered firearm or one with the serial number removed- Some guns are required to be registered for certain reasons. Someone might also be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm or one without a serial number.
- Gun theft charges – Stealing a gun or selling a stolen gun is a felony offense in Pennsylvania and carries strong penalties.
Constructive Possession Of A Firearm In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law also recognizes both actual and “constructive” possession of guns or other weapons. Constructive possession means that you are not actually holding the weapon, but are in close enough proximity to be in control of it.
For example, if you are stopped on the highway by police and have a gun sitting on the front seat of the car, the officer may say that you are in constructive possession of the gun. They can argue that you are close enough to be able to pick up and use the gun at any time and you are therefore in control of it.
It is not uncommon for the government to issue gun possession charges which speculatively assert that a defendant was in “constructive possession” of a gun recovered from inside a car or home.
Penalties For Gun Charges In Pennsylvania
Many gun crimes in Pennsylvania are felonies and come with severe penalties if you are convicted.
Carrying A Firearm With Intent To Commit A Crime
This a misdemeanor charge, but the consequences of a conviction are still severe. You can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison plus a $15,000 fine.
Possession Of Armor Piercing Weapon Or Ammunition
This is a felony offense carrying a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Carrying A Concealed Weapon Without A Permit
This is also a felony offense with a possible sentence of up to seven years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
Removing Identification (Serial) Numbers From A Firearm
This is a felony offense that carries penalties of up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Making False Sworn Statements On A Gun Application
A gun application is a legal document and is treated just the same as if you were in a courtroom speaking to a judge or jury under oath. Making false statements on a gun application is a serious crime—even if you didn’t know you made a false statement. It’s very important to read over a gun application carefully. The language can be confusing, leading to incorrect answers that could get you in trouble.
One of the most common mistakes people make leading to a false statement on a Pennsylvania gun application is when answering whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year. In Pennsylvania, only a third-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a term of one year or less in prison. Everything from a second-degree misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony is punishable by more than one year in prison. So, if you were convicted of anything more than a third-degree misdemeanor, you must answer “YES” to this question on a gun application.
Some who has made false or incorrect statements on a gun application is most often charged under one of three statutes:
- Unsworn falsification to authorities – This is a second-degree misdemeanor under Title 18 § 4904(a).
- Tampering with public records or information – This is a second-degree misdemeanor under Title 18 § 4911(a).
- Making a materially false written statement in connection with a purchase, delivery, or transfer of firearm – This is a third-degree felony under Title 18 § 6111(g)(4).
Speak With An Experienced Pennsylvania Gun Crimes Lawyer
As you can see, even “minor” gun charges in Pennsylvania can lead to serious consequences if you are convicted. The best thing you can do for yourself if you are facing any kind of gun charges in the state of Pennsylvania is talk to a competent and experienced gun crime attorney.
The Law Firm of Feeney & Gurwitz has the knowledge and experience you’ll need on your side. We will work hard and fight aggressively to ensure that your rights are protected, your defense is strong, and that your case result is the best it can possibly be.
We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Your initial consultation is free and confidential. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss what we can do to help you. Call (610) 378-7000 to schedule your free consultation.