Philly Gun Possession Penalties
Under the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have the right to bear arms. Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution also upholds this right by stating: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” However, state and local governments can apply regulations and stipulations to gun ownership and possession based on criminal history and other factors.
It’s imperative that you know your rights, legal obligations, and the requirements to own a gun and what types of gun charges you could be at risk for if you unlawfully possess a firearm. Perhaps you merely want to know more about gun ownership in Philly because you wish to purchase one. Perhaps you aren’t sure if you already possess one legally or are currently facing charges related to gun ownership. If the latter is true for you, seek the services of a qualified Philadelphia criminal defense attorney and read on to learn more.
Federal, State, and City Gun Laws
Federal, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia laws regulate gun possession. Federal laws limit gun ownership, possession, and sale. Both federal and state laws determine who can sell guns to whom and prohibit gun possession during the commission of certain crimes.
Pennsylvania law allows individuals to carry a handgun without a permit if the firearm is in your home or place of business; however, the gun must not be concealed or left in your car. In addition, many cities in the state have their own laws regarding the ownership of firearms. For example, Philadelphia law requires anyone carrying a gun, whether in the open or not, to have a permit. The laws governing P
Philadelphia is referred to as a “city of the first class” and is the only one in the state with that distinction. Although state law doesn’t allow cities to enact their own laws about gun ownership, they can regulate certain aspects of having a gun. Guns are not allowed in Philadelphia’s city parks or other places as required by state law such as schools, courthouses, and school buses. Under Pennsylvania law, anyone in Philadelphia must have a permit to carry a gun or transport one in a vehicle. Under this law, if you parked across the street from your house and walked to your front door, you would be committing a crime.
Unfortunately, this law becomes problematic in some circumstances. Individuals who meant no harm or didn’t even know about the law fall victim to the criminal justice system. Some even face charges due to police officers lying to them.
Federal, state, and local gun laws are very complex. The application of these laws can vary between cases, which is just one reason it is crucial to have a knowledgeable Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer on your side to provide you with the legal representation you need.
Who Can’t Possess a Firearm?
It is illegal for anyone convicted in the past of certain offenses to possess a gun in the state of Pennsylvania. Usually, these types of offenses are violent crimes like assault, burglary, and drug dealing, but also include possessing three Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions within five years.
Generally, people who cannot possess guns under federal law are those who:
- Are under 18 years of age.
- Were previously convicted of a felony (defined in federal law as a crime punishable by more than one year of incarceration).
- Were convicted on certain misdemeanors charges.
- Received a conviction for domestic violence.
- Are fugitives from justice.
- Are unlawfully use certain kinds of drugs.
- Have a previously documented mental illness.
- Are non-U.S. citizens or have renounced their U.S. citizenship.
Firearm Possession Penalties in Philadelphia
Criminal charges related to gun possession are often severe, with state and federal convictions leading to many years in state prison. If you use a firearm in conjunction with another crime, there is a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. It will be consecutive to any other sentence imposed for another crime. The penalties can change depending on the circumstances, for instance, if the gun was loaded or not at the time of the arrest or if you are a repeat offender.
Violation of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (PUFA) can lead to:
- Up to five years in prison and as much as $10,000 for carrying a firearm with the intent to commit a crime, which is a misdemeanor.
- Up to seven years in prison and as much as a $15,000 fine if convicted of carrying the gun concealed without a permit, which is a felony.
- Up to ten years in prison if you are a felon who is not supposed to own or possess a gun.
- Some circumstances might lead simply to probation or a fine.
In Philadelphia, the frequency of crimes committed with guns makes it common for bail to be set incredibly high. However, hiring an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer could lead to diversion program options instead of prison time.
Meet with a Skilled Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one faces gun possession charges in Philadelphia, it is vital that you get a qualified Philadelphia criminal defense attorney involved as soon as possible. Doing so can ensure that your rights are protected, you spend the least amount of time in jail as possible, and if your case is going to go as far as a trial, to help you prepare.
Your Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer should aggressively analyze all legal and factual issues in your criminal court case. We work to detect weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you, such as a legal deficiency in the government’s search, a lack of a factual element required by the law, or a problem in the sentencing guidelines. We aggressively pursue each weakness to obtain the best outcome possible in your case.
To receive your gun possession charges case review, contact Lauren Wimmer today at 215-712-1212 or use our online contact form.