Did you know that in Pennsylvania you can openly carry certain firearms? While the Commonwealth is among the states that allow for “open carry,” the law that sanctions open carry does not extend to all firearms. Pennsylvania law also provides that to carry or possess certain firearms or guns in your vehicle, or if you want to carry a firearm while it is concealed on yourself, you may have to obtain a license. In addition to these provisions, the Pennsylvania gun law also prohibits certain people from possessing or owning firearms or guns, sets forth the procedures for obtaining gun and gun dealer licenses, establishes the rules and regulations for registering gun sales, and provides the penalties you may face if you violate the firearm laws.
The Definition of Firearm in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, a firearm is defined as:
- Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length shorter than 15 inches;
- Any shotgun with a barrel length shorter than 18 inches;
- Any rifle with a barrel length shorter than 16 inches;
- Any revolver, pistol, shotgun, or rifle that is 26 inches long or less.
Typically, the length of a firearm’s barrel is measured from the muzzle to the close action, bolt, or cylinder, depending on the type of firearm. Implicit in this definition of a firearm is that the firearm or gun is actually operable and can be fired.
Firearms Offenses in Pennsylvania
If you are arrested and charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm, in order to be convicted, the Commonwealth must prove that:
- You were actually carrying a firearm, as defined by the law;
- You did not have a license for that firearm; and
- If the firearm was found concealed somewhere on your person, you were not inside of your home or personal business.
Notably, if the firearm is found in your vehicle, the fact that it is in your vehicle does not necessarily establish that you actually possess the firearm. In this scenario, the Commonwealth must be able to prove that you had control over the firearm and that you had the intent to exercise control over that firearm. In other words, if the Commonwealth can establish that you knew the firearm was in your vehicle, it is possible to be convicted of carrying a firearm without a license. Since carrying a firearm without a license can be considered a felony in the third degree in Pennsylvania, a conviction is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $15,000.
Carrying a Firearm After Being Convicted of Certain Offenses
In Pennsylvania, some people who have been convicted of particular offenses are prohibited or banned from possessing, using, controlling, manufacturing, selling, or otherwise transferring firearms. Pennsylvania law also bans these people from obtaining the appropriate licenses to engage in any of these acts involving firearms. If you have been convicted of an offense such as burglary, robbery, or criminal trespass, you likely will fall within this category of people. If you have been previously convicted of one of the enumerated felonies, and even if you simply possess a firearm, you can be charged with felony in the second degree. Penalties for a second degree felony conviction include up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
Importantly, if you have legal possession of a firearm, but you were recently convicted of one of the enumerated crimes that prohibit you from possessing firearms, you have a grace period of sixty days in which to dispose of any guns or firearms in your possession.
Delivering a Firearms to Minors
If you intentionally deliver or give a firearm to a minor, or a child, you can be arrested and charged with a third degree felony. In Pennsylvania, penalties for a third degree felony include up to seven years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $15,000.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney today to help you fight your firearm offense charge!
If you have been arrested and charged with a firearm offense in Pennsylvania, be sure to contact an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The attorneys at Coover & Scheidemann have successfully helped other people who have faced similar criminal charges like yours, and they can review the facts and evidence in your case, and help you determine the best options and strategy for fighting your firearm offense charge.