In Pennsylvania, it is legal for adults to openly carry firearms without having to get a permit. All citizens have a constitutional right to carry arms to defend themselves. However, not everyone in Pennsylvania is allowed to own, possess, or carry guns and may not be able to carry guns wherever they might like. People must also obtain a special license to carry concealed weapons outside of their homes or businesses. If you are facing gun charges, you should contact an attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. We might help you by explaining your charges and the potential defenses that might be available to you.
Common types of gun charges in Pennsylvania
Some of the common types of gun charges that you might face in Pennsylvania are detailed below.
- Illegally possessing a firearm – While you are not required to register your guns in Pennsylvania, you must obtain them legally. You also cannot possess prohibited firearms, including sawed-off shotguns or machine guns. If you possess a prohibited gun, you can face criminal charges.
- Possessing a deadly weapon – You can be charged with possessing a deadly weapon when you are facing other charges in which a weapon was involved. For example, the prosecutor might charge you with this offense when you possessed a gun while committing an assault, manslaughter, or other offense.
- Carrying a concealed gun without a license – It is illegal for people to carry concealed handguns without a license in Pennsylvania. To carry a concealed gun, you must be at least 21 years old and secure a permit. If you don’t meet the requirements, you can be charged for carrying a concealed gun in your vehicle or on your person.
- Possessing an unregistered gun – While Pennsylvania residents are generally not required to register their guns, there are some laws governing when guns are transferred between owners. These types of transactions are required to be reported to the state. If you fail to report this type of transaction, you could face criminal charges.
- Unlawfully using a firearm – There are laws that prohibit firing a weapon in certain areas and at certain times. If you violate this law, the police can charge you with a crime.
- Possessing a weapon on school grounds – You are prohibited from carrying a gun or other weapon on the grounds of a school. This includes private and public K-12 schools and parochial schools. You can be charged with this offense if you possess a firearm, rifle, shotgun, knife, nunchucks, or other weapons capable of inflicting serious injuries on school property.
- Gun thefts or sales of stolen guns – Stealing a gun or selling a stolen gun is treated seriously in Pennsylvania. These offenses are felonies carrying harsh penalties.
- Guns as sentence enhancers – Possessing or using a firearm while committing certain other offenses can aggravate your sentence. You can face harsher penalties if a gun was present and involved in committing such offenses as theft, rape, robbery, and others.
Penalties for first-offense gun charges in Pennsylvania
The penalties you might face for a first conviction of a gun crime in Pennsylvania will depend on which crime you are convicted of committing.
Some of the penalties for various gun charges include the following:
- Concealed carry without a permit – Third-degree felony carrying up to a maximum seven-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $15,000
- Carrying a gun while intending to commit a crime – First-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Unlawfully providing a minor with a firearm – Third-degree felony carrying up to a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
- Altering or removing identification numbers from a gun – Second-degree felony carrying up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000
Persons prohibited from carrying firearms in Pennsylvania
Some people are prohibited from carrying firearms in Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons.
Some of the people who are prohibited from carrying firearms include the following:
- People convicted of offenses that are deemed dangerous to the public
- People convicted of certain drug offenses
- People who have been adjudicated as incompetent or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- People convicted of felony offenses
- Fugitives from justice
- People who are convicted of escape
- People convicted of domestic violence crimes, including misdemeanors
- People who are the subject of protection from abuse orders
- People convicted of certain DUI offense
If you are unsure whether or not you are legally allowed to own, purchase, or possess a gun because of your record, you should talk to an attorney before you buy or possess a firearm.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
Regardless of what type of gun charge you might be facing, it is possible to defend against it. An experienced criminal defense attorney can carefully review the evidence and facts in your case to identify the best defense strategies to use.
The gun laws in Pennsylvania are complex and frequently change. It is rarely a good idea for someone to try to defend himself or herself against gun crime allegations. An attorney might be much more familiar with the laws and rules governing gun offenses, equipping him or her to build a stronger defense to the allegations against you.
An attorney might also identify constitutional problems with how the police stopped you, searched you, your home, or your vehicle, or seized you or the evidence. In these types of situations, your lawyer might be able to secure a much more favorable plea agreement or an outright dismissal by filing a motion to suppress some or all of the evidence. To learn more about your legal options, contact DiCindio Law at 610-430-3535.