The “right to bear arms” is enshrined in the Second Amendment. However, in many circumstances, it is constitutional for the government to charge a person with a gun crime, such as possession of a firearm. Gun-related criminal charges are very serious because, in both federal and state court, a conviction can lead to many years in prison. If you have been charged with gun possession or other weapons crimes in the Philadelphia area, you need aggressive legal representation on your side.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Lloyd Long are highly experienced in handling misdemeanor and felony weapons cases and know how to effectively develop a defense to a gun charge. If you or a family member was arrested and charged with weapons possession or related crimes, contact us as soon as possible for legal help. To set up a free and confidential legal consultation with our Philadelphia gun possession lawyers, call our law offices at (215) 302-0171 today.
Federal, State, and Philadelphia Gun Laws
The federal government has a number of laws regulating gun ownership, possession, and sale. They typically make it illegal for a person who has been convicted of certain crimes to possess or own a gun. Additionally, both federal and state laws regulate who can sell guns to whom and how they must do so, making so-called “straw purchases” illegal. The laws also prohibit the possession or use of guns during the commission of certain crimes, which can enhance (extend) a defendant’s sentence if he or she is found guilty.
The courts generally allow the states and the federal government to regulate the possession, sale, and use of firearms. The states often require permits to carry a handgun in a variety of situations. For instance, in Pennsylvania it is lawful to carry a handgun without a permit, so long as (1) it is legal for you to possess the gun, and (2) the gun is not concealed, meaning other people can see it or you do not have it in a car.
Additionally, certain towns and cities in Pennsylvania have their own laws regulating gun ownership. For example, Philadelphia has a special law which requires you to have a permit even if you are carrying the gun in the open. The laws are very complex, and how they apply can vary on a case-by-case basis, which is one of the reasons it is so critical to be defended by a knowledgeable and experienced gun possession defense lawyer.
Criminal Penalties for Gun Possession in PA
Penalties for using a firearm in furtherance of certain crimes require a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. The minimum five-year sentence must be consecutive to any other sentence imposed. As you can see, federal gun charges have the potential to significantly increase prison time.
Sentencing can also be harsh at the state level. In Pennsylvania, for example, a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act (“VUFA”) can carry a prison sentence of:
- Up to 7 years, if the defendant is convicted of carrying the gun concealed without a permit.
- Up to 10 years, if the person arrested is a felon who is not supposed to own or possess a gun.
What Makes Someone Ineligible to Possess a Firearm?
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for an individual to possess a gun if he or she has been convicted of certain offenses in the past. Typically, crimes which bar an individual from possessing a gun are violent crimes (such as assault), burglary, and drug dealing, among others.
Once again, there are also federal laws dealing with restrictions on gun possession. Generally, people who cannot possess guns under federal law include individuals who:
- Have been convicted of a felony, which is typically defined in federal law as a crime punishable by more than one year of incarceration.
- Have been convicted of certain misdemeanors, with some exceptions.
- Have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence.
- Are fugitives from justice.
- Unlawfully use certain types of drugs.
- Have documented mental illness.
- Are non-U.S. citizens, or have renounced U.S. citizenship.
Experienced Philadelphia Weapon Crime Defense Attorneys
Our criminal lawyers have spent many years defending clients in cases involving the alleged illegal possession, use, and sale of firearms. These cases can range from an allegation of illegally concealing a weapon without a permit, to a more complex “straw purchase” situation, where a firearm is purchased with the intention of providing it to someone who is not legally allowed to possess the gun, to federal prosecutions alleging wide-scale illegal gun possession and sale.
Whatever circumstances surround your case, our skilled defense lawyers are prepared to protect your legal rights. The attorneys at the Law Office of Lloyd Long have successfully defended clients:
- Arrested for carrying a gun in a book bag while a passenger in a car. Our attorneys were able to demonstrate to the judge that the officers’ statements were not credible and successfully had the evidence suppressed.
- Charged with possessing a firearm while a passenger in a car. The police claimed that the defendant was seated in the back of the car when they observed a gun on the seat in front of him, and that he was reaching for it. Our attorneys argued for our client’s acquittal and earned a not guilty verdict.
- Facing a 5-year to 10-year sentence, but who received a sentence of 10 to 20 months after the client had already served 7 months. Our gun crime attorneys were able to use sophisticated legal arguments under the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines to significantly reduce the sentence the client received.
- Federally indicted and facing a 15-year mandatory minimum, and 17 years in sentencing guideline ranges, charged as a felon in possession of a weapon. The prosecution advanced the argument that the defendant was subject to a high mandatory sentence and guidelines because of a juvenile offense on his record, which occurred at a time when juvenile defendants were not regularly afforded a court-appointed attorney under the Constitution. Through sophisticated legal argument and thorough preparation, weapons attorneys at our law firm successfully had the judge ruled that the prior conviction did not apply. The client received a sentence of only three years, rather than 15 or more.
Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys aggressively analyze all legal and factual issues in your case. The goal is to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, whether it be a legal deficiency in the government’s search, a lack of a factual element required by the law, or a wrinkle in the sentencing guidelines.
At the Law Office of Lloyd Long, we know that there is more than one way to achieve a good result – and we pursue it aggressively. For a free legal consultation, call our law offices immediately at (215) 302-0171.