Theft crimes cannot be narrowed down to a single law or statute. There are numerous variations of theft, and how a defendant is charged depends on how their alleged theft occurred. Theft of a firearm is often punished more harshly than other theft offenses.
Pennsylvania does not have a specific firearms theft statute. However, theft offenses that involve firearms may be charged as higher-degree felonies and be subject to longer prison terms. Firearms theft in Pennsylvania is often charged as a felony and punished by many years in state prison. There may be numerous grounds on which to defend yourself, and you should consult with a Philadelphia weapons charge defense lawyer as soon as possible.
If you were charged with a theft crime involving firearms, you might be up against serious felonies. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case evaluation.
What Is Considered Firearms Theft in Pennsylvania?
Firearms theft is not a single, specific statute in Pennsylvania, so a person cannot be charged with the crime of “firearms theft.” There are various forms of theft, including theft by deception, extortion, receiving stolen goods, retail theft, and others. If a firearm is stolen in any of these ways, that factors into the grading of the offense. Contact our Pennsylvania theft defense attorneys about your theft charges as soon as possible.
Theft of a firearm may be a second-degree felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3903(a)(2). It does not matter what kind of theft is allegedly committed. Whether it is retail theft, theft by deception, or something else, if a firearm is stolen, it constitutes a second-degree felony.
Instead, the charges might be for a first-degree felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3903(a.2)(1). First-degree felony charges would apply only in cases where the defendant is charged with receiving a stolen firearm. The defendant must also be shown to be in the business of buying and selling stolen property. This is essentially the charge for fencing stolen guns.
Penalties for Firearms Theft in Pennsylvania
Potential prison terms for felony offenses can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103(2). According to this statute, a second-degree felony may be punished by up to 10 years in state prison. A first-degree felony may be punished by up to 20 years in state prison.
These sentences are indeterminate, which means you might be sentenced to a shorter prison term under that limit if you can demonstrate mitigating circumstances. Our Philadelphia theft defense lawyers can help you highlight mitigating factors while downplaying any aggravating circumstances. We may also be able to help you negotiate a plea deal to reduce your charges or overall term of incarceration.
Fines are assessed under 19 Pa.C.S. § 1101(2) and may be imposed alongside prison time. Both first and second-degree felonies may be met with fines of up to $25,000.
Defenses to Criminal Charges for Firearms Theft in Pennsylvania
There are numerous ways to defend yourself against charges of firearms theft. It is important to speak to an attorney about your defense because your strategy will be influenced by how the theft was allegedly committed. Our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you develop the most effective defense strategy for your case.
One method of defense is to challenge the prosecutor’s claims about how your alleged theft offense occurred. For example, suppose you are charged with theft by deception, and the stolen goods include a firearm. You can argue that you did not deceive anyone and that the alleged victim willingly gave you the goods in question. If the government cannot prove an act of deception, there would be no theft in this case.
Another tactic is to challenge the ownership of the firearm. Prosecutors will say the gun was stolen from someone else, but you might argue that the gun was rightfully and lawfully yours. Perhaps you were storing the gun at a friend’s house who did not want to return it, so you had to take back the gun yourself the next time you visited. You cannot be charged with stealing property that you own.
You should also consider ways to keep your theft charges from being upgraded. To prevent first-degree felony charges, as mentioned previously, you might challenge the claim that you are in the business of buying and selling stolen goods. This would prevent the charges from being upgraded, even if you cannot beat the charges altogether.
Other Consequences of Firearms Theft in Pennsylvania
A defendant charged with firearms theft may face consequences beyond criminal charges. If a defendant is bound by a protective order or is otherwise a person prohibited from having a firearm or weapon, there might be additional penalties for having the firearm (whether it is stolen or not). If you are not sure how charges for firearms theft will affect you, call our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers for help.
Protective orders are often imposed to keep defendants away from alleged victims. A common term of protective orders is that defendants must not have any firearms or weapons in their possession. This is taken as a safety measure and may not necessarily be permanent. If you are charged with a firearms theft offense while also bound by a protective order, you might be in violation of that order.
Similarly, people are often prohibited from having firearms while serving probation. The alleged theft and the possession of a firearm are probation violations, and you may be arrested.
Other times, the defendant might have a prior conviction for a weapons charge and be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. Being charged with a firearms theft offense may lead to additional charges for possessing a firearm while prohibited from having one.
Call Our Pennsylvania Theft Defense Attorneys for Help
If you or someone close to you is charged with firearms theft, you should contact an attorney immediately. Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges and any other consequences you might face. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.