Weapons Crimes Archives | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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Illegal & Legal Weapons You Can Carry in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh weapon laws are broad. Knowing your local regulations is the best defense against the justice system. The type of weapon, its status, and your location all factor in when deciding whether you were lawfully or unlawfully possessing a weapon.

Weapons & PA Law

Before you carry in public, you must know relevant laws that apply to firearms and other weapons. For example, in Pennsylvania, you do not need a license to purchase or open carry a firearm.

However, you do need a license for a concealed gun. Understanding how these laws apply to you can make the difference between being arrested and abiding by the law.

Penalties for Violation of Pittsburgh Weapon Laws

If a person violates a Pittsburgh weapon law, they may be fined up to $1,000 and court costs for each offense charged. If the charge involves violations over multiple days, then each day constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

What Weapons Are Legal to Carry in Pittsburgh

Certain weapons are permitted within the city limits of Pittsburgh.

Is It Legal to Carry a Gun in Pittsburgh?

It is legal to carry a standard firearm in the open in Pittsburgh. However, to conceal carry, you must have a license and be at least 21 years of age. You may not carry an assault rifle or other large magazine weapon in Pittsburgh.

Non-Lethal Weapons for Self Defense

Non-lethal weapons carried for self-defense are allowed in Pittsburgh. That includes things like pepper spray, mace, and tasers. However, these items may only be carried for self-defense. You must be at least 18 years of age to possess a stun gun in Pittsburgh.


The sale, possession, and carrying of knives are not as heavily regulated as firearms. However, there are still rules that must be followed. Most knives with everyday uses are not prohibited. That includes pocket knives, machetes, hunting knives, razors, butterfly or balisong knives, daggers, and buck or bowie knives.

Pennsylvania code prohibits switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, and any other knife used for infliction of severe bodily injury and has no lawful purpose.

What Weapons Are Illegal to Carry in Pittsburgh

Illegal weapons generally have no non-lethal purpose.

Offensive Weapons

Pennsylvania’s criminal code makes it illegal to carry what is considered an “offensive weapon.” An offensive weapon includes items like brass knuckles, blackjacks, and certain types of knives.

Expressly, switchblades are prohibited by state and federal law, including the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958. These knives are prohibited from being transported, sold, or distributed in Pittsburgh and throughout the United States.

Assault Rifles

According to Pittsburgh City Ordinance No. 696A.02, owning, possessing, transferring, or transporting an assault weapon within the City of Pittsburgh is illegal. Additionally, the use of an assault weapon is specifically prohibited. Use of an assault weapon includes, but is not limited to:

  • Discharging or attempting to discharge the assault weapon
  • Loading it with ammunition
  • Brandishing the assault weapon
  • Displaying a loaded assault weapon
  • Pointing an assault weapon at any person
  • Using the assault weapon for any purpose prohibited by state or federal laws

Brandishing means displaying all or part of the firearm to intimidate a person, regardless of whether the firearm is visible to the other person.

An assault weapon is presumed to be loaded if a magazine is fitted in the receiver.

Prohibited Accessories to Firearms

The use of the following firearm accessories is prohibited in any public place within the City of Pittsburgh:

  • Large capacity magazines
  • Armor penetrating ammunition
  • Rapid fire devices

Prohibited Weapons that Are Not Firearms

When determining whether it is legal to carry certain types of weapons in Pittsburgh, City Ordinance No. 695.02 distinguishes between those that are designed or intended to cause injury or death or damage to property for which no common lawful purpose exists. Those types of weapons are prohibited and include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anti-tank guns
  • Bazookas
  • Bombs
  • Booby traps
  • Flamethrowers
  • Grenades
  • Mines
  • Mortar shells

Fake Firearms are Prohibited in Certain Circumstances

Pittsburgh also prohibits carrying a fake firearm in a vehicle or on a person, whether it is concealed or unconcealed, with the intent to alarm, intimidate, terrify, or threaten any person. This applies to carrying facsimile firearms on private and public locations.

How Does a Weapon’s Status Impact Its Legality?

Sometimes the status of a weapon or where it is used determines whether it is legal in Pittsburgh.

Legal Discharge of a Weapon in Pittsburgh

In most circumstances, it is illegal to discharge a weapon, including ammunition or arrows, in any public place within the City of Pittsburgh.

However, you can discharge a weapon in the following circumstances:

  • Under appropriate supervision at established target ranges
  • When permitted by other laws
  • When an air gun is discharged on private property or the property of a consenting individual

A public place may include streets, parks, public buildings, public accommodations, businesses, and other open spaces available to the general public.

Lawful Use of Weapons for Hunting

Individuals are permitted to lawfully possess a firearm on their own property or another consenting individual’s property for lawful hunting purposes.

License to Carry a Concealed Firearm in Pittsburgh

While you can open carry a firearm without a license in Pittsburgh, you must have a permit to concealed carry.

If you are carrying a gun in your car, it must be unloaded, and the ammunition must be stored in a different location than the firearm.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney If You Need to Protect Your Rights

You have a constitutional right to have a firearm. However, that right can legally be limited by federal, state, and city laws. Pittsburgh does have many city ordinances that restrict what type of weapons you can carry, when, and where.

You should immediately contact a Pittsburgh criminal lawyer if you are arrested and charged with a weapons crime. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is here for you. Call us at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online for a case consultation.

Convictions That May Revoke Your Concealed Carry License

Under the Second Amendment, we have the right to bear arms. However, this right is not unlimited. This means that under certain circumstances, your right to carry a gun can be revoked. A criminal conviction is one of these reasons.

If you are accused of a crime in the Pittsburgh area and worried that it may limit your right to carry an otherwise legal firearm, you can review all your options and pursue an outcome that protects your record and ability to own firearms. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146.

Impact of Criminal Convictions on a Concealed Carry License

According to the Gun Control Act, any person under indictment for or has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by at least one year in prison is not permitted to carry a gun.

This means that after your arrest for any state or federal crime, your concealed carry permit will be revoked. Under federal law, no convicted felon may purchase or be in possession of a firearm. But, the concealed carry laws for people convicted of misdemeanors depend on state law.

Pennsylvania Concealed Carry

Pennsylvania is a “shall-issue” state for concealed carry licenses. This means that, in general, the issuance of a carry license is automatically issued after a 45-day background check to any adult over 21 who has taken a handgun or firearm safety course. However, there are exceptions:

  • People likely to endanger public safety,
  • Individuals convicted of certain drug or controlled substance crimes,
  • Mentally ill adults,
  • People adjudicated delinquent in a juvenile court within the last ten years,
  • Habitual drunkards,
  • Convicted felons,
  • Individuals convicted of a DUI more than three times in a five year period,
  • Individuals convicted of domestic assault crimes, and
  • Illegal immigrants.

Almost all serious criminal convictions and any violent convictions result in the loss of your concealed carry permit in Pennsylvania. The good news though, is that misdemeanors will not necessarily revoke your license.

Will I Lose My Gun Rights for a DUI?

If you are arrested for a first or second DUI this will not affect your ability to carry a firearm.

The one common problem people run into with concealed carry permits after misdemeanor crimes is regarding drug possession charges. In Pennsylvania, the most minor drug convictions will often lead to your concealed carry license being revoked. For this reason, you need to be aware of the potential consequences of a drug conviction on your gun carry rights before sentencing.

A Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Gun Rights

With an experienced Pittsburgh defense attorney, you may be able to mitigate the charges in order to avoid losing your concealed carry license. If you have been arrested for any crime that could cause you to lose your concealed carry permit, contact us at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146. We will fight to get your case the best outcome possible.

Acquittal in Fayette County Parole Violation Case

The criminal justice system in Pennsylvania and across the country does not typically treat parole or probation violations lightly. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and even the population at large may predetermine your guilt if you are accused of violating the terms of your release because you were already given another chance after a mistake. Luckily, we do not live in a country where preconceived notions and assumption are evidence of guilt.

If you are accused of violating parole or probation, it is vital that you review all your options and tell your story to a dedicated and highly-skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.

Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys today at (412) 281-2146 to schedule a free and consultation.

Firearm Offense Endangers a Recent Parolee

In the spring of 2016, a young man in Fayette County was recently paroled and working as a mover, when being in the wrong place at the wrong time almost sent him back to prison for a very long time.

Apparently, one day after work, he was awoken by a call from his sister, asking for a ride home from an area bar. After he arrived, an argument broke out between some other patrons, one of which was an acquaintance. The man noticed that this other individual was carrying a firearm and due to his time in prison, he appealed to him to surrender the weapon and not get caught up in such a heated situation. Eventually, the man handed the gun over, but since he knew that his parole prohibited him from being in possession of a gun, he decided to throw it in a grassy area outside of the bar.

Unfortunately, the altercation caused the police to arrive and someone reported that a gun was involved and a shot was even fired. An officer at the scene claimed that he saw the man in question fire the shot in his direction and brought him in for questioning. Without an attorney, the man spoke with police and denied any involvement, but did not advise the officers that he had, in fact, disarmed another person.

This turned out to be a mistake because when police saw the video evidence taken outside of the bar, it was apparent that he did have a gun at one point and attempted to hide it in the weeds. This led the officers to believe that he was lying and when the gun was recovered, the man was charged with the felony crimes of aggravated assault on a police officer, person not to possess a firearm, carrying a firearm without a permit, and assault on a police officer as well as misdemeanors for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. While these offenses are serious enough for anyone, the man had the added complication of being on parole and in addition to the normal penalties, if he was convicted of violating his parole, he would likely spend the next 20 years in prison.

Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys and Matthew Ness for the Defense

Tragically, because of the man’s parole status and the grievous nature of these crimes against the public and law enforcement, the man’s bond was set at an impossibly high amount and he needed to await trial in custody. While he waited in jail for the opportunity to tell his side of the story, the veteran legal team at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC and Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Matthew Ness began working for their client and conducted an independent investigation.

When their client’s trial started, almost a year later, attorney Ness was well-equipped with the strongest possible defense and presented his client to the jury as someone trying to straighten his life out. When Ness offered his client’s version of events combined with dissecting the video evidence, it was clear to the jury that no crime was committed. Due to his attorney’s dedication and attention to detail, the jury acquitted this man of all the charges against him and he was free to go.

You Have Rights, Protect Them

Although he had to wait for an extended period due to legal red –tape, procedures, and unnecessary delays, this man’s decision to consult and attorney eventually led to his deliverance and the chance to rebuild his life. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, attorney Matthew Ness and the entire legal team know the importance of defending their clients and protecting the rights of the accused. Give us the opportunity to tell your side of the story and work towards the best possible outcome.

For a free and confidential consultation, call (412) 281-2146 today.

The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

Drive-By Shootings

Drive-by shootings are a common scenario often associated with gang violence in Pittsburgh. It might seem like legislators would have written some kind of law that addresses this type of shooting. However, despite the prevalence of drive-by shootings, there is no specific “drive-by shooting” offense in Pennsylvania law.

Instead, a prosecutor can charge you with one or more of the several offenses that apply to the act of shooting a weapon at others from a vehicle. Under some circumstances, a conviction could mean that you end up spending the rest of your life in jail. Even if you get away with a lenient prison sentence, you would have serious charges on your permanent criminal record that can make you ineligible for some if not most jobs.

If you’ve been accused of committing a drive-by shooting, the best thing you can do is to call a firm of experienced Pittsburgh weapons lawyers who can work to get your charge reduced or dismissed. Until then, do not talk to the police or the prosecutors. It can only hurt your case.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we are passionate about helping our clients get the best outcome possible when confronting the criminal justice system. With our experience defending all kinds of criminal cases, we know how the case against you will be built — and how it can be defeated.

Carrying a Firearm in an Automobile

In most cases, if you’re suspected of committing a drive-by shooting you may be charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm in a vehicle. Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 16, §1606 provides that anyone who carries a firearm in a vehicle without a proper license may be guilty of a third-degree felony. This can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

The offense is a first-degree misdemeanor if you were otherwise eligible for a license, and you didn’t commit any criminal violations while carrying the firearm. The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Assault With a Deadly Weapon

Another charge you may face for a non-fatal drive-by shooting is aggravated assault. Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 27, §2702 provides that a person commits aggravated assault when he or she:

  • Knowingly and intentionally causes or attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury intentionally
  • Intentionally or knowingly attempts to cause or causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon

Aggravated assault is a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

If the bullets reach an occupied building, Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 27, §2707.1 comes into play. This statute states that a person who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly discharges a firearm from any location into an occupied structure may be guilty of a third-degree felony, which can result in up to 7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Murder and Manslaughter

When the shooting is fatal, the charges become much more serious and you may face a murder or manslaughter allegation. Whether you’re charged with murder or manslaughter comes down to whether the prosecutor can prove premeditation and intent to kill.

When you are believed to have had a premeditated intent to kill, Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 25, §2502 defines three grades of murder:

  • First-Degree Murder — when the suspect commits an intentional killing
  • Second-Degree Murder — when defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony
  • Third-Degree Murder — for all other kinds of murder

First-degree and second-degree murder are non-categorized felonies, which means that the judge can order a sentence of any number of years — or even the death penalty. Third-degree murder is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

In cases where the prosecutor does not have evidence of your premeditated intent to kill, you may be charged with voluntary manslaughter under Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 25, §2503. The statute provides that a person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he or she was acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

  • The individual killed; or
  • Another whom the suspect tries to kill, but negligently or accidentally causes the death of another person

Voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony carrying a penalty of 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

Finally, a prosecutor may charge you with involuntary manslaughter where there is no evidence of the suspect’s intent to kill. Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18, Chapter 25, §2504 states that a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of acting in a reckless or grossly negligent manner he or she causes the death of another person.

Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and no more than $10,000 in fines.

How Pittsburgh Weapons Lawyers Can Helps

If you’ve been charged with any of the crimes described above, you could face severe penalties — including up to life in prison or the death penalty. Your team of Pittsburgh weapons lawyers can help you by using some of the strategies below:

  • Having the evidence against you thrown out because it was obtained illegally or without a proper warrant
  • Objecting to crucial evidence of the prosecution’s case based on the rules of evidence and procedure
  • Showing that your arrest and subsequent detention and interrogation were unconstitutional
  • Proving that you did not commit the actions of which you are accused
  • Claiming that you did not act with criminal intent
  • Advocating for a lenient sentence by highlighting mitigating factors for the judge at the sentencing hearing

If you want to learn more about how we can help, you can call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.