Weapons Charges in Philadelphia, PA
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights
In both federal and state court, weapons charges carry a serious potential for incarceration. While most people know that the "right to bear arms" is enshrined in the Second Amendment, in many circumstances it is constitutional for the government to charge an individual with a gun crime. The attorneys at Krasner & Long know where that line is drawn, and how to effectively develop a defense to a gun charge.
Reach our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers by calling (215) 437-0449 today!
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 ok to carry a handgun without a permit so long as it is legal for you to possess the gun and the gun is not concealed, meaning other people can see it or you do not have it in a car.
Philadelphia has a special law which requires an individual to have a permit even if you are carrying the gun in the open. Pennsylvania and the federal government also make it illegal for people who have been convicted of certain crimes to own or possess guns. 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 Uniform Firearms Act
In Pennsylvania, a violation of the uniform firearms act ("VUFA") can carry a sentence of up to 7 years if a defendant is convicted of carrying the gun concealed without a permit, and up to 10 years if the person arrested is a felon who is not supposed to own or possess a gun.
Pennsylvania has a number of other laws regulating gun ownership. The laws are very complex and how they apply can vary on a case-by-case basis.
Federal Laws Regarding Weapons
The federal government also has a number of laws regulating gun ownership, possession, and sale. They typically make it illegal for a person convicted of certain crimes to possess or own a gun. The laws also prohibit the possession or use of guns during the commission of certain crimes, which can enhance a defendant’s sentence if he is found guilty.
Penalties for using a firearm in furtherance of certain crimes require a mandatory minimum 5-year sentence. The minimum 5-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.
What Is a Motion to Suppress?
You will often hear lawyers, other defendants, or even television shows talk about Motions to Suppress, particularly in cases involving the possession of weapons or controlled substances. The reason these motions come up so often in such cases is because they involve possessory crimes, meaning to be guilty a defendant must have had possession of the illegal item. The evidence used against a defendant in these cases is often based on searches or interviews conducted by law enforcement officers.
The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions protect individuals from illegal searches, questioning and seizures by law enforcement. Essentially, this means that the police or other law enforcement officers must follow certain rules before they can stop you, search you, or question you. For instance, generally the police must have reasonable suspicion to believe that an individual is armed and dangerous in order for police to frisk the suspect. What armed and dangerous actually means depends on whether you are in federal court or state court, the circumstances surrounding the encounter, and a variety of other factors.
Contact us to get informed advice from our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers.
What Makes Someone Ineligible to Possess a Firearm?
In Pennsylvania it is illegal for an individual to possess a gun if that individual has been convicted of certain offenses in the past. Typically crimes which bar an individual from possessing a gun are crimes of violence, burglary, and drug dealing, among others.
There are also federal laws dealing with gun possession. Generally people who cannot possess guns under federal law have been convicted of a felony (typically defined in federal law as a crime punishable by more than one year incarceration) or certain misdemeanors (with some exceptions), are fugitives from justice, unlawfully use certain types of drugs, have documented mental illness, are non-U.S. citizens (with some exceptions), have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, or persons who have renounced U.S. citizenship.
Call Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Our lawyers have spent many years defending clients in cases involving alleged illegal possession, sale, and use 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.
The lawyers at Krasner & Long have successfully defended clients:
- Arrested for carrying a gun in a book bag while a passenger in a car. Krasner & Long 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 to 10 year sentence, but who received a sentence of 10 to 20 months after the client had already served 7 months. Attorneys at Krasner & Long 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, attorneys at Krasner & Long successfully had the judge rule the prior conviction did not apply, and the client received a sentence of only three years rather than 15 or more.
We Are Here to Help
We have secured many successful results in guns and weapons cases. Our lawyers understand that our clients are often facing many decades in jail for these alleged crimes, and therefore facing guns and weapons charges can be a high stress, high stakes situation.
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. We know that there is more than one way to achieve a good result.
Arrange for a case evaluation with our legal team today.