Charged With a Gun Crime in Pittsburgh? Our Attorneys Can Help
Both the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions give you the right to bear arms, which entitles you to buy, receive, own, carry, give, and sell firearms such as handguns, shotguns, and rifles. However, over time, your right to bear arms has been reduced to protect the public and reduce the risk of gun violence. As a gun owner, you are required to follow a number of regulations both at the federal and Pennsylvania levels.
If a law enforcement authority has evidence that you violated one or more firearms or weapons restrictions, then you could face serious criminal charges. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you will need a Pittsburgh gun charge lawyer from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to come to your defense. For information on how our criminal defense lawyers can protect your rights and fight for your exoneration, call (412) 281-2146 today.
Pennsylvania Gun Laws
In Pennsylvania, as long as there is not a law that specifically prohibits you from purchasing or possessing a firearm, you may buy and own guns. You do not need a permit to purchase handguns, shotguns, or rifles, though you will have to go through a background check. You do not have to register your firearms once you possess them.
There are various licenses you may obtain that enable you to have greater freedom with your firearms instead of only having them at home or work. Once you turn 18 years-old, you may obtain a Sportman’s Firearm Permit, allowing you to transport your firearms for hunting. When you do not have a license and need to transport your firearms, they must be unloaded while in the vehicle.
At 21 years-old, you can apply for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. Once you apply, your county sheriff has 45 days to investigate your background and eligibility for a license. This includes conducting a background check. Your sheriff must deny you a license if you are specifically prohibited by law from carrying a firearm, and they may deny your application if they have reason to believe you are likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety. Once your license is approved, you have the right to carry a firearm concealed on your person or in your vehicle for the next five years.
Pennsylvania Firearm Offenses
Our Pittsburgh gun lawyers have experience handling many firearms and weapons charges, including:
- Possessing Criminal Instruments– Under 18 Pa. Code §907, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense if there is evidence you possessed any instrument of a crime or if you carried a firearm or other weapon concealed on your body, which you intended to use to commit a crime. You can also be charged with a third-degree felony if you are in possession of body armor during the commission of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony.
- Possessing a Firearm When Prohibited– You are specifically prohibited from possessing firearms by Pennsylvania law if you have been convicted of working with organized crime, murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter involving a firearm, a sex crime, possessing a firearm on school grounds, and many other felonies. If you are found in possession of a gun despite the legal prohibition, then based on 18 Pa. Code §6105, you may face felony charges.
- Carrying a Firearm Without a License– You are only entitled to carry a weapon concealed on your person or in your vehicle if you have a valid license or fall within an exception, such as if you are a member of law enforcement or the U.S Military. If you do not have a lawful license or do not meet an exception, then carrying any firearm in your vehicle or hidden on your person outside of your home or place of business is a crime. Under 18 Pa. Code §6106, you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony.
- Making Repairs to or Selling Offensive Weapons– 18 Pa. Code §908 states that if the police believe you possess, have made repairs to, or sold an offensive weapon such as a machine gun, grenade, or bomb, then you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Firearm Theft– Theft of a firearm is taken very seriously in Pennsylvania. If the police have evidence that you stole or received a stolen handgun, rifle, shotgun, carbine, machine gun, or another dangerous weapon, then you could be charged with a second-degree felony, according to 18 Pa. Code §3903.
- Possession of Firearm with Altered Numbers– Under 18 Pa. Code §6110.2, you are only allowed to own guns with unique and distinct identification numbers, which make it possible to trace the ownership of the weapon. If you are found in possession of a firearm with a removed, altered, changed, or obliterated manufacturer’s number, you may be charged with a second-degree felony.
- Weapon on School Property– There are certain locations where guns and other weapons are not allowed, including schools. 18 Pa. Code §912 states that if you are found with a weapon on public or private school property, you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
Potential Penalties of a Gun Charge in Pittsburgh, PA
If you have been charged with a crime related to a firearm or other weapon, you need to be aware of the potential statutory penalty you could experience if convicted:
- Third-degree misdemeanor– Incarceration up to one year and a fine up to $2,000.
- Second-degree misdemeanor– Incarceration up to two years and a fine up to $5,000.
- First-degree misdemeanor– Incarceration up to five years and a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony– Incarceration up to seven years and a fine up to $15,000.
- Second-degree felony– Incarceration up to 10 years and a fine up to $25,000.
- First-degree felony– Incarceration up to 20 years and a fine up to $25,000.
In addition to or in place of some imprisonment, you could have to follow the strict rules of probation. You may also have to complete community service, go through drug or alcohol counseling, or pay restitution. The statutory penalties for a firearms offense in Pennsylvania can be harsh, which is why it is important to speak with a Pittsburgh gun charge lawyer right away. The best way to avoid an unnecessarily severe punishment is to fight for an acquittal or pursue a minimum penalty.
Collateral Consequences to a Firearm Conviction in PA
If you are convicted of a gun or weapons offense in Pennsylvania, then it is highly likely you will experience additional consequences beyond the statutory penalties. You now have a permanent misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record. Whenever another person conducts a background check or you have to fill out an application, this conviction may come up and create an unnecessary hurdle.
Common collateral consequences of conviction include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty gaining admission to college
- Difficulty obtaining student financial aid
- Ineligibility or difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses
- Difficulty getting hired for a job
- Difficulty getting approved for renting an apartment or house
- Immigration problems, such as having a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship denied
- A reduction in your child custody or visitation rights
- Loss of your voting rights while incarcerated
- If convicted of a felony, loss of your right to own a gun
Defending Against a Firearm or Weapons Charge in Pennsylvania
If you have been charged with a firearm offense, do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted firearms attorney right away. We will thoroughly review your case and determine the next best steps. If we are not able to have your gun charges dropped, we will consult with you on your options and immediately begin to build the strongest defense available under the law.
We may base your defense on challenging:
- The legality of a traffic stop
- The legality of the search
- The admissibility of evidence
- Whether the firearm was actually yours or not
- Whether you had the intent necessary to commit the offense
What Our Clients Say
“This firm is definitely top notch. In the beginning, Samir greeted me with open arms and assured me that I’d be okay. He was transparent about the pricing. Whenever I felt nervous or confused, Samir was just a text / call away. He is very busy but makes time for you. Then, Matt represented me in court. He was impeccable in court, which showed he put alot of time and effort into my case. Matt is a very smart lawyer and a very approachable lawyer. I’d highly recommend you hire this firm. You won’t regret it.”
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September 20, 2019
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Let a Pittsburgh Gun Charge Lawyer Help You
When you are facing criminal charges related to weapons such as guns, you need to contact an experienced and aggressive gun charge attorney right away. If you are convicted of a crime, you may be sentenced to incarceration and hefty fines, which in turn can lead to a number of difficult consequences. A felony conviction could take away your right to own firearms completely. To avoid such a harsh outcome, call a gun charge lawyer to discuss your rights and options.