Whether you can buy a gun with a misdemeanor drug charge in Pennsylvania depends on the circumstances of your arrest––as well as your general criminal record. In many cases, having a misdemeanor conviction should not stop you from buying or owning a gun.
You could have a problem passing a background check if you have a felony conviction or your misdemeanor involved a violent act. There are also other rules that could prevent you from buying a gun in Pennsylvania.
It is important that you provide correct and complete information when you handle the paperwork related to purchasing a firearm. Lying on any required forms could bring additional criminal charges – threatening both your freedom and ability to own a gun.
When Would a Conviction Prevent You from Buying a Gun in Pennsylvania?
There are generally two ways that a conviction could prevent you from purchasing a firearm:
You Have a Felony Criminal Conviction
Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), makes it illegal to own a gun if you have previous felony convictions. When it comes to Pennsylvania drug convictions, this could include possession with intent to deliver or distribute, which is generally charged as a felony.
This and related offenses also usually call for penalties that include more than two years behind bars. This would also make it illegal for the offender to possess the gun under Pennsylvania law, as well.
Your Drug Crime Warranted More than Two Years in Prison
Pennsylvania law, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(c)(2), makes it illegal to possess or own a gun if you received a misdemeanor conviction and spent more than two years in prison as a result.
In general, this should not include most simple possession charges or possession of a small amount of marijuana. Those are the most common misdemeanor drug convictions in Pennsylvania, and while possession of marijuana is illegal, it’s viewed with less severity than other offenses.
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What Else does the Law Say About Who Can Possess a Gun?
According to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Records and Identification Firearms Division, those who are prohibited from buying guns in the Commonwealth include anyone who was:
- Imprisoned or jailed for more than two years because of any criminal conviction
- Convicted of certain criminal offenses (such as multiple DUIs within a certain period)
- Adjudicated for serious delinquent acts as minors
- Found incompetent by a court or involuntarily committed for inpatient mental care
Pennsylvania also prohibits undocumented immigrants, fugitives, and those with active abuse orders against them from owning firearms.
What if I Have a History of Addiction?
If you have a history of addiction, but you did not serve more than two years in jail for a misdemeanor drug charge, you may still purchase and own a gun. Yet, this is more complicated than you might think.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), federal law prohibits gun ownership by those who are “unlawful users” or addicted to controlled substances. A previous conviction of a misdemeanor drug charge is not likely enough to prove addiction and keep you from buying a firearm, though.
As long as you are not a current user of drugs, or there is not more to the story than your single conviction, you should be able to answer the questions in the application honestly. You should be prepared to answer honestly that you are not an unlawful user of marijuana, narcotics, or other controlled substances.
How Can I Restore My Right to Own a Gun?
If there is an issue in your criminal record that prevents you from buying and owning a firearm in Pennsylvania, you could have your rights restored. You can work with a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with this process and can help you navigate the court system.
- Have the offense expunged from your record. The law allows you to have certain offenses removed from your record. If you’re eligible for expungement, you could purchase and own a gun.
- Fight the current charges against you. If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony drug charge, you should discuss your options for fighting the allegations against you with a criminal defense law firm. A conviction could mean time in jail, fines, and being unable to own a gun.
It may be possible to reduce the charges against you, get them dropped, win a not-guilty verdict, negotiate a plea, or get another more favorable outcome in your case. A criminal defense attorney can help you develop a strong defense unique to the specific details of your arrest.
Connect with Our Criminal Defense Team Today to Learn More
You can reach the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC today to discuss whether you can buy a gun with a misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania. You can speak with a team member today at no cost to you.