Under state and federal law, felons cannot possess firearms in Pennsylvania. Following a felony conviction in PA, individuals only have a short window to get rid of any guns they own. Owning, possessing, using, or controlling a firearm after this date could call for additional charges and significant consequences.
If you face charges related to firearm possession as a convicted felon, you will want a felony conviction defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. A lawyer familiar with these laws and the consequences you could face is your best resource when you want to fight for a better outcome in your case.
What does the Law Say About Firearms After a Felony Conviction?
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6105, convicted felons and others convicted of crimes that do not allow them to own firearms have a few options following their conviction. They can:
- Surrender their firearm
- Sell their firearm
- Transfer the gun to a trusted individual who does not live in their household
There is a limited time to do so, usually under 60 days. They will also have to provide proof that this has been done legally. Beyond having the gun during this period and handling it for this purpose, a convicted felon in Pennsylvania cannot have any contact with firearms. According to the law, this includes not being allowed to “possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture or obtain a license to possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm.”
Per 18 Pa.C.S. 6105(c)(2), those with certain misdemeanor convictions cannot possess firearms, either. This includes those who spend more than two years in prison or whose maximum sentence for their crime could have been more than two years.
The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records and Identification Firearms Division publishes a list of others who cannot legally buy or possess a gun in the Commonwealth. This includes:
- Those adjudicated for serious delinquent acts as children or teens
- Anyone running from the police for any reason
- Those with significant mental health concerns, including anyone deemed incompetent by a court or involuntarily committed to inpatient psychiatric care
- Immigrants without proper documentation to live and work in the United States
- Anyone with an active protection from abuse order against them
- Those with a previous domestic violence conviction
If someone under one of these categories attempts to purchase a gun, their background check should not allow it. When it comes to possessing firearms, they could face major legal consequences if caught, arrested, and convicted.
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What Happens If I Get Caught With a Gun?
Convicted felons caught possessing, transporting, controlling, or otherwise having a firearm could face significant prison time and major fines. Even being in a vehicle or home with a gun present could bring charges and cause a lot of headaches and frustration. When possible, it is best to avoid these situations.
The severity of your penalty will depend on your original conviction and the circumstances that led to the new arrest. A conviction could mean 5 to 20 years of incarceration and fines of up to $25,000.
You should discuss your options with a gun charge defense attorney if you face gun possession accusations. This is a serious allegation, and the consequences of a conviction would dramatically affect your life. Working with a lawyer knowledgeable about these cases could help you reduce or eliminate the harsh sentence you could receive.
What Other Rights do I Lose as a Convicted Felon?
There are many consequences of being convicted of a felony; some do not end when you finish serving prison time. In addition to not being able to possess firearms, other lasting consequences of a felony conviction include:
- You cannot run for office
- You cannot obtain many types of professional licenses for at least ten years
- You cannot adopt, foster, or work with children
- You are ineligible for student loans
- You cannot serve on a jury
Having a felony conviction on your record also makes it more difficult to rent an apartment, get a job, and handle many other everyday tasks. When possible, avoiding the felony conviction is the best way to ensure you do not have to face these issues later.
Can I Own a Gun in Any State?
The laws prohibiting convicted felons from buying or possessing a firearm in Pennsylvania are echoed by federal laws. Under 18 U.S.C. 922(g), most with felony convictions cannot purchase, transport, possess, or control a firearm under any circumstances.
Because of this law, it is unlikely that a convicted felon can purchase and possess a firearm legally in any state. The possible consequences vary, but time behind bars and fines are common.
What Are My Options for Regaining My Rights?
Under Pennsylvania law, the only way to regain your gun rights following a felony conviction is to receive a pardon for your conviction from the Governor. As you can imagine, this isn’t common.
Most convicted felons do not regain their right to own, possess, or control a firearm. Instead, they must adapt to life without access to guns. For example, those who enjoy hunting might learn to bow hunt instead. Even using a rifle for sporting purposes is illegal for someone with a felony conviction.
If you believe you might have a strong case for a pardon, discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer familiar with this process. They can assess your case and offer advice.
Get Help If You Face Firearms Possession Allegations in Pennsylvania
If you are accused of possessing a firearm after a felony conviction in Pennsylvania, you want to fight this serious charge and significant potential consequences. You can discuss your options and next steps with the team from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC today. Our free consultation allows those who need our legal services to learn more about our team and how we can help.
Contact us now to get started.