The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution might guarantee your right to bear arms, but this right isn’t without restrictions. The states reserve the right to control how, where, and what weapons you possess. If you find yourself in violation of one of these laws, you could face serious repercussions.
There are many gun laws in the state of Pennsylvania, and the courts take them all quite seriously. Because gun laws are considered a matter of public safety, violating them can result in you being seen as a dangerous criminal. When you are charged with an offense like this, sometimes your attorney is the only one on your side, the only one interested in getting you a positive result in court.
Pennsylvania Gun Crimes and Penalties
You can run afoul of gun laws in a variety of ways. This represents only a few of the more commonly seen criminal weapons violations. To know exactly what you’re up against, a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer is necessary.
Unlawful Possession of Weapons
Under Pennsylvania law, people convicted of felonies are not allowed to own weapons. And there are types of weapons that are always illegal to possess, such as guns with the serial numbers removed.
Persons Not To Possess, Use, Manufacture…Firearms
If you’ve previously been convicted of an offense that barred you from owning a weapon, you could be charged with a crime when found in possession of a weapon or found using one, selling one, or making one. This includes people who have been convicted of a felony under the The Controlled Substance Act and those who are the subject of an active protection order, among other things.
The penalty you face for violating this law depends largely on the reason you are barred from owning a firearm in the first place. In some situations, you will be charged with a 3rd degree misdemeanor, carrying up to 1 year in jail. In others, you could be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor, carrying up to 5 years in prison.
Possession of a Firearm with an Altered Manufacturer’s Number
You don’t have to be the one who removed or altered the weapon’s serial number to be charged with this offense. Merely possessing such a weapon could warrant these charges. This crime is classified as a 2nd degree felony. This criminal classification means it carries up to 10 years in prison.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon Without a License
If you are caught in possession of a concealed weapon, whether in your vehicle or in public, you could be charged with this offense. If the weapon is licensed to you, the charge for carrying it concealed is a 1st degree misdemeanor, carrying 5 years in prison. However, if the weapon is not licensed to you, the charge is elevated to a 3rd degree felony, with a maximum potential sentence of 7 years in prison.
Having a criminal conviction on your record can be difficult to overcome. It’s especially hard when that conviction is for a weapons offense. The key to avoiding such long term consequences is in avoiding a conviction altogether. While this isn’t always possible, a local criminal defense lawyer can help you explore your options and look at defense strategies to mitigate the potential effects of these charges on your life.