VUFA & Gun Crimes Lawyer in Pennsylvania
With incidents of gun violence rising around the country, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are increasingly targeting arrests and prosecutions for illegal possession of firearms. In Philadelphia, the District Attorney increased prosecution of gun cases by 115% since last year, and routinely sought high bail in cases involving the illegal possession of guns. The punishment for people convicted of gun cases in state and federal courts can be extremely harsh, in some cases amounting to several years in prison.
Gun cases are complex and require that a lawyer have in-depth understanding not only of the statutes governing the possession and use of firearms, but also of the state and federal constitutional standards that the police must follow before they can legally stop and search a person, house, or vehicle. If the police violate a person’s constitutional rights by illegally arresting or searching a person, lawyers can fight to have that gun “suppressed” prior to trial and have the case dismissed.
Lawyers at The McGarrigle Law Firm are knowledgeable of state and federal gun laws, and of the law governing unconstitutional search and seizure by the police. The McGarrigle Law Firm is skilled and experienced in defending against gun charges, and has successfully represented many clients who have faced these charges.
ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN PENNSYLVANIA
In Pennsylvania, the illegal possession of a gun/ firearm is defined in the criminal code under the Violation of the Uniform Firearm Act, which is commonly referred to as “VUFA.” Below is summary of possible gun possession violations that fall under VUFA.
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18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 – Persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms
In Pennsylvania, a person who has previously been convicted of certain crimes cannot possess a firearm. These crimes include: aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, numerous sexual offenses, murder, arson, intimidation, among others. This law also prohibits some individuals from possessing a firearm who have been convicted of certain drug related crimes; particular driving under the influence crimes; individuals who are fugitives of justice or who are not lawful residents of the United States; certain individuals who have been adjudicated as incompetent or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care; certain individuals who are prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 is a felony of the second degree and is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
18 Pa.C.S. § 6106 – Firearms not to be carried without a license.
It is illegal in in Pennsylvania to possess a firearm concealed on his person or in a vehicle without a valid license to carry. The punishment under § 6106 varies from a misdemeanor of the first degree (up to 5 years in prison) to a felony of the third degree (up to 7 years in prison) depending on whether the charged individual would otherwise have been eligible to obtain a valid license.
18 Pa.C.S. § 6108 – Carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia.
It is illegal to carry a firearm, rifle, or shotgun on the streets or public property of Philadelphia without a license to carry a firearm. § 6108 is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
18 Pa.C.S. § 6111 – Sale or transfer of firearms
It is illegal in Pennsylvania to purchase a gun for the purpose of providing that gun to another individual. This act is frequently called a “straw purchase.” A violation of § 6111 is either a misdemeanor of the second degree or a felony of the third degree depending on variety of circumstances involved in the transaction.
Additional Facts About Firearms Possession in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state with concealed weapons licenses issued at the county level by the sheriff’s office or if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city.
- There is no permit required to purchase firearms in Pennsylvania.
- “Open carry” is legal in Pennsylvania for anyone 18 or older who is legally allowed to possess a firearm. Be aware that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court a decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Darren Montgomery, 234 A.3d 523 (PA 2020), holding that sometimes a visible firearm is a concealed firearm.
- Concealed carry is legal for residents with an license to carry a firearm (LCF) and for non-residents with a license/permit that Pennsylvania honors. Pennsylvania LCFs are issued to residents and non-residents that are at least 21 years old. Non-residents must already have a permit to carry in their home state in order to obtain a Pennsylvania license. There is no training requirement. In terms of reciprocity, Pennsylvania only honors resident CCW licenses from states with which it has a reciprocity agreement.
- VUFA charges are frequently brought against individuals charged with homicide who may have used a firearm in self-defense. The use of deadly force is permissible under some circumstances in Pennsylvania when the individual believes he is facing death and or serious bodily injury, or if he believes that someone else is facing death or serious bodily injury. Under some circumstances the individual has the right to “stand your ground” and has “no duty to retreat” before using deadly force in self-defense. The law of self-defense in Pennsylvania is nuanced and complex. Lawyers at the McGarrigle Law Firm are experienced in these complexities and have successfully presented self-defense arguments on behalf of their clients.
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