Pennsylvania’s gun laws are detailed and complex. This is especially true in Philadelphia, which imposes tougher gun restrictions than other areas of the state. A conviction for the possession of firearms in Philadelphia can result in serious penalties, including jail time, steep fines, and the loss of your gun rights, in addition to a criminal record. If you or one of your family members was arrested and charged with gun possession in Philadelphia, or has been charged with a related offense involving the purchase or ownership of a weapon, it is critical to hire a skilled and experienced Philadelphia gun possession defense lawyer to protect your rights and represent you in court.
At the Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our legal team approaches every case with decades of combined experience. We are selective in the cases we handle, allowing us to devote our full attention and resources to giving your case the aggressive, robust defense it deserves. We have obtained acquittals, case dismissals, and sentence reductions, even in cases where the charges were extremely serious. If you or a loved one is facing misdemeanor or felony charges for possessing a gun in Philadelphia, turn to the Law Offices of Lloyd Long for experience-driven, results-oriented representation.
Philadelphia Gun Laws and Open Carry
Philadelphia enforces restrictive gun laws that do not apply in other parts of the state. Due to the strict and technical nature of gun laws in Philadelphia, it is easy for even the most responsible of gun owners to find themselves under arrest for a crime they may not have even know they were committing. To use a common example, “open carry” is prohibited in Philadelphia, even though it may be considered lawful in other areas of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania gun laws are located under the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act. Certain statutes under the act pertain specifically to Philadelphia, such as 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6108. This is the law that prohibits “carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia,” meaning open carry in Philadelphia. Under this law, it is generally illegal to “carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public streets or upon any public property” anywhere in Philadelphia, unless:
- The person has a valid and up-to-date license to carry a firearm.
- The person is exempt from the licensing requirement (such as members of the military).
Even outside of Philadelphia, in communities where Pennsylvania’s gun laws are more lenient, there are various gun possession laws that can lead to prosecution if allegedly violated. Examples of gun possession-related criminal charges under the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act include:
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6110.1 – Possession of a Firearm by a Minor
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6110.2 – Possession of a Firearm with an Altered Manufacturer’s Number
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6121 – Certain Bullets Prohibited (Possession of Illegal Bullets)
Penalties for Possession of Firearms in PA
Gun possession may be treated as a misdemeanor or as a felony, and more serious penalties imposed, depending on factors like:
- The type of weapon involved.
- The defendant’s purpose for possessing the weapon (for example, whether it was to be used to commit a crime).
- Where the offense took place (such as a court or school zone).
- Whether the weapon was discharged (fired).
- Whether anyone was injured.
- Whether the defendant has a record of prior criminal offenses.
- Whether the defendant sold or intended to sell weapons in his or her possession.
- Whether the defendant was prohibited from owning a weapon at the time the offense allegedly took place.
For example, the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act allows enhanced penalties to be imposed on defendants who were restricted from owning or using a firearm when they allegedly committed the offense. As provided by 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6103, “If any person commits or attempts to commit a crime… (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms) when armed with a firearm… that person may, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime, also be punished as provided by this subchapter.” People who are restricted from owning or using guns (“persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms”) include people who have been previously convicted of:
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Indecent Assault
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (IDSI)
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Possession of a Firearm by a Minor
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Witness Retaliation
Under various sections of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, gun possession and related crimes can be charged as first degree misdemeanors, second degree misdemeanors, third degree misdemeanors, first degree felonies, second degree felonies, or third degree felonies. For example, possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer’s number is a second degree felony under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6110.2(b).
Many factors can impact the sentence a defendant receives if he or she is convicted. One of the most important is how the crime is classified within the categories above. For example, a second degree felony can have much tougher penalties than a second degree misdemeanor, while a second degree misdemeanor can have much tougher penalties than a third degree misdemeanor. Depending on what the defendant is charged with and other details of his or her case, penalties could include the following:
- Sentence for a Third Degree Misdemeanor – Maximum 1 year in jail
- Sentence for a Second Degree Misdemeanor – Maximum 2 years in prison
- Sentence for a First Degree Misdemeanor – Maximum 5 years in prison
- Sentence for a Third Degree Felony – Maximum 7 years in prison
- Sentence for a Second Degree Felony – Maximum 10 years in prison
- Sentence for a First Degree Felony – Maximum 20 years in prison
Certain sentences may be subject to enhancement (extension), depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge.
Philadelphia Gun Possession Defense Attorney for Weapons Charges
Being charged with a gun crime is a frightening and disorienting experience, especially for defendants who were unaware they were breaking Philadelphia’s complicated gun laws. Regardless of the circumstances leading up to your arrest, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced gun possession attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can explain and defend your constitutional rights under the Second Amendment while working to reduce the penalties you face. It may even be possible to obtain a dismissal of your case.
Do not wait to begin the process of defending yourself from these serious criminal charges. If you or someone you love was arrested for having a gun in Philadelphia call the gun possession lawyers at the Law Office of Lloyd Long at (215) 525-6818 for a free legal consultation today.