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    Legal Blog

    Pennsylvania Weapons Charge Dropped for West Virginia Man

    Aug 02 2019, by Mike Worgul in Case Results, DUI, DUI Results, Firearms & Weapons Rights, Weapons Crimes

    When a man living in Fairmont, West Virginia found himself traveling through Pennsylvania to visit his brother, he got pulled over by law enforcement in Allegheny County under the suspicion of drunk driving. To make matters worse, the man 41-year-old had his firearm stored in the backseat of his truck, which officers noticed immediately upon stopping him.

    After asking if the individual had a permit for the weapon (he did not, as West Virginia is a Constitutional Carry State), the police ended up charging the man with carrying a concealed weapon – because once a gun is placed in a car in PA, it’s technically considered “concealed.” As such, his charges stood as follows:

    If convicted of both offenses, penalties included prison time, high fines, and more. The firearm offense was of particular concern to the West Virginia man, as he possessed what is known as a federal firearms license (FFL) that allowed him to sell, manufacture, and otherwise maintain firearms, ammunition, and sell these items. Wanting to avoid compromising this license, he reached out to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys LLC for help.

    Attorney Matt Ness immediately got to work on the case, and entered into negotiations with the District Attorney’s office to get the client into a first-time offenders program. When that did not work, attorney Ness took the case to a stipulated non-jury, where he presented the facts to the judge and argued that the client did not have the requisite state of mind (mens rea) to commit the firearms offense.

    Normally ignorance of the law is not a defense, but the law still requires that a party intentionally conceals and carry a weapon without a permit. And given that in the client’s home state concealed carry permits were not required, he could not have known that such a permit was required in Pennsylvania. The client believed he was complying with the laws of his home state and the Federal Firearms Act.

    After hearing this argument, the judge agreed, and found the client not guilty of the felony firearms offense. While he was found guilty of the DUI, he was only sentenced to six months of non-reporting probation.

    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.