One of your rights, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is the right to keep and bear firearms. However, contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to commit a serious felony or violent crime to have this right revoked. If you’re acquiring a firearm and have been convicted before, it would help to check that it doesn’t inhibit this right.
Many firearm revocations result from nonviolent offenses, including a misdemeanor conviction. The good thing is that you can fight to restore your firearms rights in Pennsylvania. You can consult a criminal defense and injury lawyer in Philadelphia for legal counsel and representation on how to go about it.
What Does the Law About the Rights to Firearms If I Have a Conviction?
According to federal law, there is a national baseline standard regarding an individual’s eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. It prohibits people from purchasing or possessing guns if convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, or felonies.
People subject to specific court orders related to domestic violence or severe mental conditions are also prohibited. In Pennsylvania, the law provides that no person shall possess a firearm if they have been convicted of the following offense, subject to certain limited exceptions:
- Violations related to organized crime
- Possessing, using, making, selling, repairing, or dealing in any offensive weapon, such as stun guns, firearms with silencers, sawed-off shotguns, machine guns
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraints
- Aggravated assault or assault by a prisoner
- Luring a child into a vehicle
- Rape or aggravated indecent assault
- Unlawful sale or lease of weapons or explosives
Other Classifications Prohibiting Firearm Possession
The following groups of people are also prohibited from possessing a firearm:
- An illegal alien
- A person convicted of an offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, And Cosmetic Act
- A fugitive from justice
- A person adjudicated as mentally incompetent or one who has involuntarily been committed to a mental institution
- Anyone prohibited by federal law from owning, acquiring, or possessing a firearm due to a conviction for domestic violence misdemeanor.
- Anyone who has renounced their US citizenship or was dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forced
If you’re facing charges for illegally possessing a firearm, your best chance at defense would be to contact a skilled weapons charges lawyer in Philadelphia. They can assess your case and create a solid legal defense strategy to help you fight during the trial.
What Are the Penalties for Possessing a Firearm Illegally in Pennsylvania?
The applicable enhancements if a felon is found in possession of a firearm are built into the statutes covering the entire state or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These violations of the Uniform Firearms Act are first-degree and second-degree felonies.
If charged and convicted of a second-degree felony, you may face as much as five to ten years in prison. If charged and convicted of a first-degree felony, you may face the following:
- Between 10 and 20 years in jail
- $25,000 fine
Anyone ineligible to have firearms because of their previous criminal record and convicted of possession has a risk of facing significantly heftier penalties. Transporting a gun or having it within your house is illegal should you be ineligible because of a prior record. Hire a skilled Philadelphia weapons charges lawyer to defend you against the charges.
What are the Mandatory Minimums Laws?
Pennsylvania no longer has mandatory minimum laws in sentencing in relation to convicted felons in actual or constructive possession of a firearm. Nonetheless, in dealing with people convicted of firearm possession, Pennsylvania has enhanced penalties if a person is convicted of a firearm offense.
People are at risk of the initial charges of violating the Uniform Firearms Act, which attracts between 3 ½ to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Convicted felons face an enhancement to a first-degree felony. The penalties can include an additional ten to 20 years in jail and a fine of $25,000.
How Can I Restore My Firearm Rights in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a provision for an individual to reinstate their gun rights. Unfortunately, the procedure doesn’t apply when the prohibition falls under the Federal firearm prohibition laws. That’s because the rights restoration process in PA doesn’t relieve the firearm prohibition at the federal level.
Expunging a Conviction in Pennsylvania
A court in Pennsylvania may grant your request to have your records expunged and destroy all your court and administrative criminal history records. Some limited situations in which expungement can be granted include the following:
- Convictions related to juvenile drinking
- Summary offenses
- Arrests that don’t attract a conviction, such as a dismissal or a not-guilty verdict
- The State of Pennsylvania has no provision for the expungement of misdemeanors and felonies.
Sealing Criminal Convictions in Pennsylvania
The law allows you to seal some nonviolent misdemeanors after ten years if you have not been arrested or charged since the last conviction. Also known as a Limited Access Petition, courts automatically seal the following records:
- Misdemeanor offenses that attracted a penalty of not more than two years’ imprisonment
- Nonviolent criminal convictions after ten years
- Criminal arrests without conviction
Once your criminal convictions have been sealed, the police can still see them, but you don’t have to disclose them when making a firearm application. Consult a Philadelphia weapons charges attorney if you have questions about sealing or expunging your previous criminal convictions.
Learn Your Legal Options Today from an Experienced Defense Attorney
If you’re facing charges for firearm possession, you should consider hiring a skilled and aggressive weapon charges lawyer in Philadelphia. They can help you mitigate the charges to avoid losing your concealed carry weapon. A lawyer can also help you seal or expunge your past criminal conviction when applying for a firearm license.
Our law firm provides many legal services to clients accused of weapon-related crimes. We can evaluate your case to determine if you have a valid defense under the law. Then, we can create a strategy to help you get the charges dismissed or reduced. Having a skilled and aggressive lawyer on your side can be an advantage. Contact us for an initial consultation.