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There are several firearms offenses under Pennsylvania law. This post will briefly describe the laws regarding carrying firearms and Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act (VUFA) in Pennsylvania.
If you are facing criminal firearms charges in Pennsylvania, including in relation to another crime like robbery or burglary, having a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side is indispensable. Firearms charges can be severe, with significant consequences, including prison time and large fines.
Who Can Possess a Firearm in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, you can own a gun and keep it in your home or the business you own without a license. You will need to undergo a background check and wait a set period before making the purchase, but you can own it and transport it home or even to the shooting range for practice. However, you must transport it unloaded.
If you are 21 or older in Pennsylvania, you may be able to get a license to carry a gun with you or in your car. In some cases, and for some people, even owning a gun may be illegal. For example, your prior criminal record, age, and other circumstances could affect your status.
What if I want to Conceal Carry a Firearm in Pennsylvania?
If you want to carry a concealed weapon, you will need a “concealed carry” license. This specifically allows you to carry a weapon in a concealed manner. You can get this license from your local county sheriff’s office, where they will do a background check and see if you have any:
- Mental health concerns
- Prior convictions
- Protection from abuse orders
It is important to note that if you break the law and are carrying a firearm without a license, there are significant consequences. You could get years in prison, fines, and a permanent criminal record if you are found in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
The Rules are Different in Philadelphia
The laws that apply in the City and County of Philadelphia are different. This is because of Philadelphia’s legal classification as a “City of the First Class.” It is the only one in Pennsylvania.
In cities of the first class, there are additional crimes related to carrying a firearm without a license under 18 Pa. C.S. § 6108.
There is an extra charge for carrying a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia. This can increase penalties even if carrying the firearm is unrelated to any other criminal activity.
For a free legal consultation, call 215-515-3360
What are the Penalties for Carrying a Firearm Without a License?
The penalties for breaking firearms laws in Pennsylvania are severe.
For carrying a firearm without a license:
- VUFA 6106, carrying a firearm without a license, is a felony of the third degree. This charge could result in up to seven years in jail and a $15,000 fine.
- VUFA 6108, carrying a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia, is a misdemeanor of the first degree. This charge could result in up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
What if I Have a Criminal Record or Warrant?
If you have a prior criminal record, open warrant, protection from abuse order, etc., there is a special charge that you may face following a firearms arrest. Possessing a firearm in this instance is a violation of section 6105, and is in addition to the charges listed here.
Grading depends on the circumstances of the case but could be a felony of the first or second degree. For a felony of the first degree, the penalty could be up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. For a felony of the second degree, the penalty can be up to ten years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
You may also face additional consequences related to a gun charge if you are still under probation or parole.
Does Everyone Need a License to Carry?
There are a number of people who are exempt from needing a concealed carry permit. This includes:
- Anyone recovering stolen property
- A bank or security firm employee
- Members of the U.S. military
If you fall into one of these categories, you may need to prove you do not have to have a license to the police or in court. If you face firearms charges but believe you fall under one of these categories, you should reach out to our criminal firearms attorney as soon as possible.
Using a gun During a Robbery or Burglary
If you use a gun during a crime, such as a robbery or burglary, it can make the possible sentence more severe. This will likely result in increased penalties as a result. Pennsylvania courts call this a “sentencing enhancement.”
It means that, on top of the original sentencing guidelines for the charge, you will face more prison time if you had a gun or other deadly weapon during the commission of the crime. In addition, there are crimes that, if you have a firearm, may become federal crimes as well, such as using a gun for drug trafficking purposes. Federal crimes may have increased penalties.
Contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC for a Free Consultation
If you have weapons charges against you, you will likely want to seek out the help of a criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, offer experienced, knowledgeable representation in criminal law.
We will fight for you every step of the way. We may be able to undermine the prosecution’s case against you and get the best result based on the facts of your case. Having a lawyer by your side is the best way to protect your rights and your future. Call the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC today at (215) 515-3360 for a free consultation.