While Pennsylvania is an open-carry state for firearms, carrying a concealed firearm without a license can result in criminal charges and serious penalties. People can avoid these types of charges by applying for a concealed-carry license in the state if they are at least 21 years old and follow the rules for carrying a firearm. If they violate the laws, however, people who carry concealed firearms can face misdemeanor or felony charges. If you are facing gun charges for carrying a concealed firearm without a license, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law about how to defend against your case.
Carrying weapons in Pennsylvania
Under 18 Pa.C.S. §, you are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm on your person or to travel with a firearm in your vehicle without a valid license. However, an exception applies to carrying a firearm in your home or in your regular place of business. if you have a firearm in your business without a license, your place of business must be fixed. This means that if you are a traveling salesman, for example, your vehicle will not qualify for the business exception.
Other exceptions apply to the license requirement, including for the following people:
- Law enforcement officers
- Military service members
- People who are enrolled in an organization to receive or purchase firearms
- People traveling to and from target practice with unloaded firearms
- Security and bank employees whose jobs are to protect valuables and money
- Licensed gun manufacturers or dealers
- People transporting unloaded, wrapped firearms after purchasing them, having them repaired, or having them appraised
- Firearms safety instructors
- People told to relinquish firearms to specific locations
- Licensed hunters who are going to hunt or returning from hunting
- Dog trainers
- People with valid licenses from out-of-state
- People whose licenses have expired within six months but are eligible for renewals
- People who are legally authorized to transport firearms in interstate commerce
What are the penalties for carrying a gun without a license?
The penalties you might face if you are convicted of carrying a gun without a license in Pennsylvania will depend on the facts. You could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony.
If you are charged with carrying a concealed gun on your person or with carrying a firearm in your car without a valid license, you will face first-degree misdemeanor charges as long as you would otherwise be eligible for a license to carry, and you did not commit another crime while carrying your gun.
A first-degree misdemeanor conviction for illegally carrying a firearm without a license carries the following potential penalties:
- First-degree misdemeanor on your record
- Prison from two-and-one-half to five years
- Fine of up to $10,000
You can be charged with a third-degree felony if you are caught carrying a concealed firearm without a license or have a firearm in your vehicle and are either ineligible for a license or have committed a crime while carrying the gun.
If you are convicted of a third-degree felony for carrying a firearm without a license, you will face the following potential penalties:
- Felony on your record
- Prison from three-and-one-half years to seven years
- Fine of up to $15,000
If you are convicted of a felony, you will also likely face collateral consequences that could impact other areas of your life even after you have served your sentence. People who have felony convictions may lose their civil rights to serve on juries. They might also lose professional licenses that they hold and be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. In addition, people who have felony convictions on their records might have trouble keeping or finding employment, being approved for leases and credit, and encounter difficulties in their interpersonal relationships. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, you could face ongoing consequences if you are convicted.
What to do if you are facing gun charges
If you are arrested and charged with carrying a firearm without a license, there are several things that you should and should not do. The first thing that you should avoid is talking to the police. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can talk your way out of being charged and arrested. If you agree to be interviewed by the police or make any statements to them beyond
providing your name, driver’s license, and basic information, the police can use anything you say against you. Instead, you should simply tell the police that you wish to remain silent and to have an attorney represent you.
After asserting your rights, you should then contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can carefully review your case to identify issues that could be used in your defense. He or she can also explain the criminal process and help to prepare you for each step.
A lawyer might help to determine whether the police conducted your stop, search, and seizure appropriately or if there were instead any constitutional problems with them. If the officer conducted an illegal stop, search, or seizure, your attorney might file an evidentiary motion to seek the suppression of all illegally gathered evidence. If the court suppresses the firearm, this could result in a dismissal of your case.
An attorney might also determine whether or not you might meet an exception under the law. If you do, he or she might negotiate with the prosecutor to try to get your charges dismissed. Finally, a lawyer might review your case to identify other potential defenses that might be available to you.
Talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer
Gun charges are treated seriously in Pennsylvania. If you are facing these types of charges, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call DiCindio Law today at 610-430-3535.