Under Pennsylvania law, in order to carry a firearm in your vehicle or concealed on your person, you need to have a firearms license. If you have previously been convicted of any of a variety of specified offenses, you can lose your ability to obtain a license, and you can face conviction for any use, possession or transaction involving a firearm.
Firearms offenses are serious crimes in Pennsylvania. License violations can be prosecuted as first-degree misdemeanors or third-degree felonies, and unlawful possession, use or transfer of a firearm can be graded as high as a second-degree felony. This means that, depending upon the circumstances involved, you could be facing up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Definition of a “Firearm” in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s license and possession statutes apply to all forms of “firearm,” as defined by Section 6102 of the Crimes and Offenses Title of the Pennsylvania Code. “Firearms” include:
- Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches
- Any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches
- Any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches
- Any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches
The law also states that, “[t]he barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.”
Persons Not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell or Transfer Firearms
Pennsylvania deprives individuals of their right to carry a firearm if they have been previously been found guilty of any of a laundry list of criminal offenses. This includes convictions in Pennsylvania or any other state. If you have been convicted of an enumerated offense and you are found guilty of possessing, using, controlling, selling, transferring, manufacturing or obtaining a license for a firearm, you can be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, first-degree misdemeanor or second-degree felony.
Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License
Carrying a firearm without a license in Pennsylvania can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. However, the law contains a list of 16 exceptions, including exceptions that apply to individuals who hold a sportsman’s permit for hunting, trapping or fishing. For certain licensing violation exceptions, the definition of a “firearm” is expanded to include any weapon, “designed to or[ that] may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of the weapon.”
Due to the highly-specific nature of Pennsylvania’s firearm license and possession laws, all individuals charged with firearms-related offenses must discuss the unique facts of their case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. In addition to the exceptions that apply to license violations, there are numerous other potential defenses as well. With more than a decade of experience representing defendants in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, defense attorney Randall McKinney can make sure that you are not unjustly convicted.
Discuss Your Case in Confidence
If you have been charged with a firearms offense in the Pittsburgh area, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. To speak with Attorney McKinney about your case, call (412) 520-3301 or tell us how to reach you online now.