Some people in Pennsylvania are prohibited from owning, purchasing, or possessing firearms. Under the laws of the Commonwealth, it is a crime for certain people to possess firearms. If you are charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm in Pennsylvania, you could face severe penalties if you are convicted. Getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney from DiCindio Law is a crucial step to defending against these types of charges.
What is unlawful possession of a firearm?
Under 18 Pa.CS § 6105, certain people are prohibited from possessing, owning, transferring, selling, manufacturing, or using firearms. These prohibited individuals include the following:
- People with certain felony convictions
- People with three or more DUI convictions within five years
- People who have been convicted under the Controlled Substances Act or an equivalent federal law
- People who are fugitives from justice
- People who have been adjudged incompetent or who have been involuntarily committed for inpatient psychiatric treatment
- People who are the subjects of a final protection from abuse order
- Juveniles adjudicated as delinquents for offenses that would be disqualifying felonies if they had been convicted as adults until age 30
- Undocumented immigrants
Disqualifying felonies for firearms possession
If you have any of the following felony convictions from Pennsylvania or another state, you are prohibited from possessing a firearm:
- Organized crime offenses
- Possession, use, manufacture, repair, or sales of offensive weapons
- Luring a minor into a car
- Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter involving a firearm
- Possession of a weapon on school grounds
- Car theft or robbery
- Second felony theft or extortion conviction when accompanied by violent threats
- Aggravated indecent assault, involuntary sexual intercourse, or rape
- Risking or causing a catastrophe
- Second-degree felony criminal trespass or higher
- Aggravated assault
- Assault committed by a prisoner
- Impersonation of a law enforcement officer
- Unlawful restraint or kidnapping
- Felony receipt of stolen property
- Witness or victim retaliation or intimidation
- Possession of weapons or tools to escape a correctional or mental health facility
- Minor in possession of a firearm
- Corruption of minors
- Escape from custody
- Illegal sales of explosives or weapons
- Paramilitary training
- Facsimile weapons of mass destruction
What are the penalties for unlawfully possessing a firearm in Pennsylvania?
Under § 6105, people who are disqualified from possessing firearms must dispose of their guns within 60 days of when they become ineligible. If you possess a firearm after that date, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. The penalties vary, depending on your reason for disqualification.
If you are convicted of one of the disqualifying felony offenses listed above or have been convicted under the Commonwealth’s controlled substances act, unlawful possession of a firearm is a second-degree felony. If you are convicted, you could face 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
If you are a subject of a protection from abuse order and fail to relinquish your firearms, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor carrying up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If you are someone else who knowingly accepts a firearm from someone who is the subject of a final protection from abuse order, it is a third-degree misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If you intentionally return the firearm to the person who is the subject of a protection from abuse order or allow him or her access to it, it is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Federal unlawful possession of firearms
It is important to note that you could be charged under federal law for unlawfully possessing a firearm under certain circumstances. Federal penalties are much more severe. Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), anyone who is convicted of a felony that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), anyone who is convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, including misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, is also prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition when the crime involved a domestic relationship between the defendant and the victim as well as the use of physical force or a deadly weapon.
People who are under indictment for a crime that has a potential punishment of more than one year are also barred from transporting, using, or selling firearms under 18 U.S.C. 922(n).
People who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility or have been adjudged mentally incompetent are prohibited from possessing firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4). Finally, people who unlawfully use illegal drugs or are addicted to them are prohibited from possessing weapons under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).
It is important to recognize that you could be charged federally even if you are not charged by the state if you fall into one of the prohibited categories of people under federal law. Pennsylvania’s prohibition also includes a prohibition of weapons possession for people who are barred under federal law.
How do I find a criminal defense attorney near me?
When you are searching for a criminal defense lawyer to represent you on a gun charge, it is important for you to choose someone who is experienced in handling weapons offenses. Michael DiCindio is a highly skilled criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor who understands how to defend against these types of offenses. Schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law today by calling (610) 430-3535.