In order to lawfully carry a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania, you must be 21 or older and possess a current and valid PA License to Carry Firearms. You can obtain this license by submitting an application to the sheriff of the county where you reside.
The sheriff’s office has forty-five days to determine eligibility for a license, and he has the right to deny authorization to any individuals with criminal records or certain characteristics that prohibit them from legally holding firearms.
Individuals with the following attributes are not permitted to carry an open or concealed weapon in Pennsylvania:
- Convicted of drug or illegal substance crimes, or are current users of illegal drugs;v
- Convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on three or more occasions within the last five years;
- Convicted of domestic violence crimes;
- Convicted of felonies of any nature;
- Has a history of mental illness or have ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
- Have been adjudicated delinquent within the last ten years;
- Are illegal aliens in the United States;
- Are fugitives from justice;
- Dishonorably discharged from any branch of the U.S. armed forces;
- Associated with a reputation that endangers public safety.
Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon Without a License
Under the Pennsylvania State Constitution (Art. I § 21), all citizens preserve a right to “bear arms in defense of themselves and the State.” Because Pennsylvania maintains an open carry policy, anyone who is at least 18 years of age, and is not prohibited by law to own and hold firearms, may openly carry a handgun in plain sight without a license, except in vehicles. However, you must obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.
Exceptions to this rule are:
- You are allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon in your own home without a permit;
- You are allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon in your fixed place of business without a permit.
Notwithstanding the exceptions above, any person found to be carrying a firearm weapon in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person, without a valid license, can be charged with a felony of the third degree (Pennsylvania Criminal Code, Title 18 § 6106). This scenario would occur if the person is found to be ineligible to possess a valid license. A third-degree felony sentence can result in up to seven years in prison with a maximum fine of $15,000.
A person who is otherwise qualified to possess a valid license but is caught with concealed weapons without a permit, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. If convicted, you can face potential jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Exemptions to the concealment violation can be found here.
If you have been recently accused of carrying concealed firearms without a license, or are facing concealment of weapons-related charges, you will need assistance from an experienced Pittsburgh gun lawyer. We will be able to walk you through all the legal options in your case. First, we will review the evidence against you, and based on the supporting documentation, then file relevant motions for suppression or inadmissibility.
In the past, we have successfully negotiated with the Commonwealth for reduced or dismissed charges against our clients on other weapons violations. We recommend that you contact our office as soon as possible for a free consultation.
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