DiCindio Law LLC | October 19, 2021 | Weapons
In Pennsylvania, knowingly lying on a firearm application can lead to serious trouble. Anyone who tries to buy a gun from a retail store must undergo a state and federal background check. If you lie on your application form in connection to your background check, you can be charged with a felony. The law can be confusing because some criminal convictions do not count while others do. People with certain types of convictions are prohibited from possessing, buying, or owning firearms. If they have criminal offenses on their records, they should speak to a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law before trying to purchase guns or filling out firearms applications.
Persons Prohibited From Possessing, Owning, Selling, Or Transferring Firearms
Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105, the following people are prohibited from possessing, selling, transferring, or owning firearms:
- People convicted of felony drug offenses under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act or a similar federal law while possessing a weapon or having a second conviction without a weapon
- People who are the subjects of a final protection from abuse order that orders them to relinquish their firearms
- People with three DUI convictions within five years
- People convicted of any of the enumerated offenses listed in the statute, including rape, robbery, arson, burglary, and more
There is a broad variety of disqualifying criminal convictions and other factors under Pennsylvania’s state laws and federal law. This makes it important for people with any type of criminal record or with another type of record that they believe might be disqualifying to speak to an attorney before filling out a gun application form.
Convictions With Penalties Longer Than One Year
On the firearms application form, people are asked whether they have been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term that exceeds more than one year. For this question, it is important to note that the maximum available sentence is what counts rather than the sentence you might have actually received.
In Pennsylvania, the maximum penalties for the different levels of misdemeanor crimes include the following:
- Third-degree misdemeanor – Up to one year
- Second-degree misdemeanor – Up to two years
- First-degree misdemeanor – up to five years
This means that you must answer in the affirmative on question 32 if you have any first- or second-degree misdemeanor convictions even though they are not felonies.
Other Common Areas Of Concern On Gun Applications
In addition to the prohibitions of people from purchasing guns that are listed above, there are also several categories of people who are prohibited from owning firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
Under this law, you cannot possess or own a firearm if you have any of the following in your background:
- Any felony conviction
- Any misdemeanor conviction with a potential sentence of longer than one year
- An active protection from abuse order
- Current fugitive from justice for anything other than a minor traffic offense
- User of illegal drugs or addicted to a controlled substance
- Undocumented immigrant
- Lawfully present on a nonimmigrant visa
- Have been committed to a mental institution or have been adjudicated as mentally incompetent
- Have received a dishonorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. military
- Have renounced your citizenship
- Have been convicted of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
Penalties For Making False Statements On A Gun Application
If you make false statements on a gun application in Pennsylvania, you can be prosecuted under several statutes. The most serious one is 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(4) for making material and written false statements in connection to an attempt to purchase, transfer, or deliver a firearm. You can also be charged under this statute if you make false material oral statements or intentionally provide false identification to try to purchase, transfer, or deliver a firearm. If you are convicted of this offense, it is a third-degree felony. You will have a felony conviction on your criminal record and face a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine from $2,500 up to $15,000.
Prosecutors frequently stack charges to try to secure convictions. This means that you might also be charged with making an unsworn falsification to a public servant under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 if you knowingly make a written false statement with the intent to mislead a public servant. This offense is a Second Degree misdemeanor carrying the potential of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Even if you are confused about your criminal record and whether or not you must answer yes on the gun application form, there is an additional explanation on the back of the form, and you must understand your criminal record and how it applies to purchasing a gun when you fill out the application form.
Potential Defenses To Making False Statements On A Gun Application Form
If you have been charged with making a false statement on an application to purchase a gun, you might still have some defenses available to you.
The prosecutor is required to prove each element of this offense, including that you made the statement or omission knowingly and intentionally. This means that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew that you were lying instead of simply making a mistake. For example, many people wrongly believe that juvenile records don’t count. However, certain juvenile adjudications do qualify. If you genuinely did not know that your juvenile adjudication should have meant that you answered yes on the application, you can defend against this charge.
The prosecutor will also have to prove that you were the person who completed the form or gave a false statement. Prosecutors might have trouble proving this unless you made incriminating statements to the police. If you did make incriminating statements, your attorney might be able to get them suppressed if the police continued to question you after you invoked your rights to an attorney and to remain silent or failed to properly Mirandize you before a custodial interrogation.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA
If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.
DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
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