When you were arrested, the likelihood that you were touting a gun or committing a violent offense may be rare. However, if you are found in possession of a weapon while convicted of another crime, it certainly does not help your case. Under the 2nd Amendment, you have a right to bear arms, so long as you abide by the law and are not committing any weapons offenses. But when your criminal record impacts your ability to own a gun, Kalinoski Law Offices can help.
Pennsylvania Legislation on Prohibited Offensive Weapons – Weapons Offenses
Under Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18 Pa.C.S.A. Crimes and Offenses § 908, a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he makes repairs, sells, or deals in, uses, or possesses any offensive weapon. An offense includes but is not limited to:
- Machine gun
- Sawed-off shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches
- Metal knuckles
- Dagger, knife, razor, or cutting instrument
Exceptions to a Pennsylvania Weapons Charge
There are exceptions to a weapons charge in Pennsylvania. They include:
- The individual possessed the weapon solely as an interesting or collector’s piece or in a dramatic performance; or complied with the National Firearms Act; or that he/she found it or took it from an aggressor or under circumstances similarly negativing any intent.
- The defendant is a police officer or forensic expert dealing with weapons.
- The person is not in defiance of weapons rights in Pennsylvania.
Common Pennsylvania Weapons Charges and Penalties – Weapons Offenses
There are numerous weapons charges in Pennsylvania including:
- Criminal charges where a gun was present or involved in the crime
- Theft of a stolen gun
- Unlawful use of a firearm
- Possession of an unregistered firearm
- Possession of a deadly weapon
- Illegal possession of a weapon
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Weapons on school grounds
The nature of the crime will determine the penalty you may face. Some charges include penalties of:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to five years of prison and a $10,000 fine (possession of an illegal weapon, selling a firearm, intent to use a firearm in criminal activity, weapons on school grounds)
- Third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine (carrying a firearm without a valid license with a prior criminal record)
- Second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $25,000 (change, alter, or remove the identification numbers on a firearm)
These charges are not cut and dry though, as it will often depend on previous criminal activity.
How Criminal Charges Involving Weapons Impact Ability To Own a Weapon in the Future
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you may forfeit your right to owning a weapon in the future. This includes if you:
- Were convicted of a violent crime
- Were charged with a felony
- Have a PFA against you
- Have been committed involuntarily
- Have multiple charges against you
- Have prior weapons offenses
- Have certain drug or controlled substances crimes against you
- Have a history of mental illness; have been deemed to be incompetent; or have ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- Are a fugitive
- Have been convicted of DUIs on more than three occasions within a five year period
- Have been convicted of domestic violence crimes
While law enforcement may work to protect the innocent from being injured or worse at the hands of a criminal who possesses a gun, that does not mean you should receive a maximum penalty if this is your first offense.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney: Weapons Charges
When you are charged with something as severe as a weapons offense, it’s important to have the right legal defense by your side to help build your case. At Kalinoski Law Offices P.C., we help people throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania who need legal guidance during criminal trials. Contact us today at (570) 207-4000 to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how we can help you.