Common Questions about Gun Charges in PA
A gun charge is a serious crime in Pennsylvania. It will raise the stakes in any criminal case, and even a first-time offense can lead to significant jail time. There are a number of defenses the Bill Brennan team has successfully used in cases involving weapons and firearms, but it is important to understand your rights to help you avoid a criminal record and the serious consequences that follow a gun charge. Here are a few of the most common questions related to firearms and gun charges in PA.
Do I need a license to carry a firearm in PA?
Under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, every citizen is guaranteed the right “to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State.” And while the state does not require people to register their firearms, anyone who wants to carry a firearm must have a valid Pennsylvania license to do so. The only exceptions are:
- The firearm does not leave your home
- The firearm does not leave your fixed place of business
How do I obtain a license to carry in PA?
In order to obtain a license, you will have to go through an application process with your county sheriff’s office, involving the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), which is managed by the Pennsylvania State Police and provides gun suppliers with relevant background checks of those who wish to purchase to determine if you are eligible.
Are there certain people who cannot carry a gun?
There are some cases where you will not be permitted to carry a gun – open or concealed – in the state of PA. These situations include an individual who:
- Has a reputation to likely act in a manner dangerous to public safety
- Has been adjudicated delinquent during a ten year period prior to carrying
- Is a convicted felon; primarily violent felonies such as murder, rape, robbery, etc.
- Has been convicted of certain domestic violence crimes
- Has been dishonorably discharged from any branch of the U.S. armed forces
- Is a fugitive from justice
- Has been convicted of certain drug or controlled substance crimes, or are addicted to, or have been convicted of unlawfully using illegal drugs
- Has been judged as mentally incompetent or has ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- Has been convicted of a DUI/DWI on three or more separate occasions within a five year period of the time they are caught carrying
- Is not a U.S. citizen and is in the U.S. illegally
If you are also prohibited from carrying a weapon or firearm, it is a second-degree felony, which could result in up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
What are the consequences for carrying a firearm without a license?
It is a third-degree felony to carry a firearm without a valid license or specific permit – with the exceptions mentioned above. If you are caught, you could face up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If you have a clean record and would have been eligible for a license, it is still punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What is the Concealment of a weapon, and what are the consequences?
Pennsylvania is considered a relatively pro-gun state with limited restrictions on ownership and possession; however, any individual carrying a firearm concealed or in their vehicle can be charged with a serious offense – whether you have a license or not.
Pennsylvania law defines concealment of a firearm or weapon as “any person who carries a firearm in any vehicle, or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person; except in his place of abode (residence) or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license, commits a felony of the third degree.” A third-degree felony can carry a prison sentence of up to 7 years and/or fines of up to $15,000.
What are other charges related to gun and firearm possession?
Any individual in possession of a weapon with an altered, removed, or obliterated manufacturer’s serial number is a serious federal offense and punishable of up to 10 years of jail time, in addition to large fines.
The theft or sale of a stolen gun is also a serious crime in PA and is punishable as a felony of the second degree.
If there is proven intent to use the firearm during criminal activity, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, in which you could face up to 5 years in prison and 10,000 fine. Even if the gun is not loaded or you never actually used the weapon, these penalties still apply.
Minors, or anyone under the age of 18, is prohibited from possessing a gun, but there are a few exceptions to this law in Pennsylvania.
How can I protect my rights in a gun charge conviction?
There are exceptions to who can conceal and carry a gun in Pennsylvania, and a number of defenses that could help preserve your rights. Our gun charge attorneys have handled many of these violations by reviewing the evidence against the defendant and challenging the prosecution under reasonable suspicion, probable cause, and more. Don’t risk a criminal record by choosing anyone but the best gun charge attorneys in Philadelphia to represent you. Contact us to discuss your case.