In the aftermath of a series of mass shootings in the United States in recent years, we hear strong anti-gun sentiment from Americans who have never been around weapons, let alone fired one themselves.
Unfortunately, many of these staunch opponents of guns do not understand one simple thing: just because you own a gun does not necessarily mean that you will use it for any purpose other than self-defense and protection of your family and property.
Types of Gun Possession Charges and Severity of Penalties
The severity of penalties and sentences depends on many factors, but the wording of the charge you have been arrested and prosecuted for plays the most vital role.
Most Common Gun Charges and Penalties in Pennsylvania
- Illegal possession of a gun or firearm: In Pennsylvania, those who have been convicted of a felony are prohibited from carrying a firearm. In fact, Pennsylvania law requires you to transfer or sell your firearm within 60 days of being convicted of an offense. A Possession of a Prohibited Firearm conviction will be charged as a felony. “Also, do keep in mind that you may be prohibited from carrying a firearm if you are under a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order,” warns our experienced weapons charges attorney in Pittsburgh. “A violation of PFA is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.”
- Repairing, selling, using, or possessing an illegal offensive gun or firearm: Unless you are a law enforcement officer or carry a license permitting you to carry one, Pennsylvania law prohibits repairing, selling, using, and possessing an illegal offensive weapon or firearm, including but not limited to bombs, grenades, machines guns, daggers, knives, razors, metal knuckles, sawed-off shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches, Tasers or other electric stun guns that can inflict serious bodily injury, and many others. This one is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
- Intention to use a weapon during criminal activity: In Pennsylvania, you are facing a first-degree misdemeanor charge for intention to use a weapon during a criminal activity (robbery, assault, etc.), even if the weapon is not loaded or you did not use the weapon in the course of the criminal activity.
- Carrying a weapon without a valid license: Although Pennsylvania law permits gun owners to keep their weapon inside their home or place of business, it is prohibited by law to carry a firearm inside your vehicle, attached to a leg holster, in a purse or any other concealed place unless you have a valid license. This one is charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a $15,000 fine and up to seven years in prison. Your Pittsburgh weapons charges lawyer can reduce your penalty to a first-degree misdemeanor if you would have been eligible to obtain a license (but did not do so for some reason) and have no prior criminal record.
- Illegal sale of weapons: While you may have a license to sell firearms in Pennsylvania, there are many laws and rules you will have to comply with to avoid being prosecuted for the illegal sale of firearms. For example, you cannot sell a weapon to a person unless you waited 48 hours (failure to comply will be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor). If you sell a firearm to a person under the age of 18, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Carrying a weapon on school property: In Pennsylvania, it is prohibited by law to carry a firearm on or anywhere near school property, including public and private elementary schools and secondary schools. Violation of this law will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor (up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine).
Why You Need a Pittsburgh Gun Possession Attorney
Gun possession charges in Pennsylvania carry lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. That is why anyone facing gun charges should seek legal help from a Pittsburgh weapons charges attorney to protect their gun ownership rights and freedom.
Our Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers at SMT Legal will identify the best legal defense for your particular weapons-related charge after investigating your case. For example, in some cases, lawyers representing gun owners are able to prove those police officers or law enforcement officials violated their rights during unlawful searches or seizures of a gun in the defendant’s possession. If you were charged with gun possession, contact our office today.