8 Potential Options for Defending Against Weapons Charges

Many people can legally own a firearm in Pennsylvania. However, legal gun ownership doesn’t necessarily allow you to carry your weapon in certain ways or to certain places, and there are numerous types of weapons charges you might face if you’re not careful about following the law or make a mistake with regard to firearms.

A weapons charge can be a serious issue to face, and it’s important to approach it with the same level of caution and care that you might approach an assault charge or other potential felony. Depending on the nature of your case and the charges against you, there are numerous potential defense strategies in weapons charges cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand what might be the best approach for you.

1. Claim Self Defense

Depending on what you are being charged with and the facts of your case, you may be able to claim self defense with regard to your firearm use. For instance, Pennsylvania does have a castle doctrine in its law that allows for someone to use deadly force in self defense situations within their own home. This relates to specific scenarios, though, and self defense may not be a completely viable strategy if you’re facing weapons charges related to possessing a firearm illegally.

2. Challenge the Search

Another option for defense against weapons charges is attacking the search that turned up potential evidence against you. If the search and seizure that resulted in finding a firearm or evidence that led to the weapons charges were not conducted according to protocol, any evidence related to those actions might not be useful to the prosecution in building a case against you. Your lawyer can help you understand if this might be an option in your case.

3. Argue You Didn’t Possess the Weapon

Of course, you can also consider whether you can attack the facts of the case. If you can cast reasonable doubt on facts that seem to indicate you possessed or used a weapon in an illegal manner, this can help strengthen your defense.

4. Question the Evidence or Witnesses

Many times, witness testimony is used to build a narrative about what happened in a criminal matter. If the witnesses can be cast as unreliable in any way or their testimony can be called into question by establishing contradictory testimony or facts, this can help with a person’s defense.

The same is true with physical, photographic, and other evidence. Defense attorneys may bring in expert witnesses or others to try to discount or discredit the evidence or build a second, reasonable narrative for why the evidence exists that does not implicate you in the crime.

Because firearms charges can hinge on forensic details like fingerprints, ballistics, or toolmark analysis, it can be important to have expert witnesses to draw conclusions from certain facts.

5. Demonstrate That It Wasn’t You

Another way you can defend against the existing facts of the case is to demonstrate that you could not have been involved in the criminal activity. This isn’t a good option if law enforcement found you with a firearm, but it might be a potential strategy if you are being charged with using a gun in a crime that you didn’t commit.

6. Argue Temporary Possession

You might build a case that you only had temporary possession of a firearm that you found. You didn’t want to leave a dangerous item in a random location, so you planned to bring it to a local police department and turn it in. In some cases, building a reasonable narrative that you only had a firearm for a short while and had no intention of doing anything else with it might help.

A similar defense might be used if you are being charged with carrying your firearm in an illegal manner. If you legally own the gun and want to go to the shooting range to use it, for instance, you are allowed to carry it in your vehicle to and from that location.

7. Assert Constitutional Rights

You may want to talk to your attorney about whether a weapons charge is maligning your constitutional rights under the Second Amendment and what that means for your case. It’s important to note, however, that your Second Amendment rights don’t allow you to break firearms laws in the state just because you don’t like them.

8. Demonstrate You Held the Weapon Legally

Finally, if you have a Pennsylvania License to Carry and were following all correct protocols, you may be able to make a case that you were not holding, possessing, or using a firearm in an illegal manner. When speaking with a criminal defense attorney about your case, be forthright about all the facts of the case as you see them. This can help your attorney understand if you did everything by the book.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Case

Criminal charges of any type can be frightening. Facing a potential prison sentence and other consequences can cause a lot of stress, and it can be difficult to consider all your options and know what actions to take when you’re in this type of situation.

Contact a criminal defense attorney for help as soon as possible when you’re facing weapons charges. You can call the Liberty Law Team at 215-826-3314 for help.