Firearms are such an important part of American culture and life that the right to keep and bear arms was enshrined in our Constitution immediately after freedom of speech. However, firearms also have a high potential to cause harm to other people and have significant rules and regulations as to their use. When crimes are committed using firearms, the punishment for that crime are often far, far more severe than the underlying offense would be without the use of a gun.
A common way for usually law abiding citizens who exercise their constitutional right to buy a firearm to find themselves running afoul of the criminal justice system is making a mistake in the process of buying a firearm. When buying a firearm, a background check is required. In connection with that background check, a questionnaire is required to be filled out. If you supply false information on this application form, you can be charged with a felony of the third degree! One of the questions on this application form is whether you are a “person not to possess” firearms, and many people who fit this requirement may not be aware of it.
Section 6105 of the crimes code outlines individuals who are not permitted to use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms. Section 6105(b) has an extensive list of felonies the conviction of which, exclude the person from being able to have a gun. Should one of these people who are not permitted to possess a firearm are to be found with one, they’ll be facing another felony offense themselves.
Crimes in which a firearm is used or possessed are also subject to a Deadly Weapon enhancement matrix to be applied at sentencing. One important thing to note about the deadly weapon sentencing matrices is that probation is never a standard range sentence no matter the severity of the offense! Having a deadly weapon enhancement applied to your case will subject you to a minimum of 3 months in prison for an offender even if you have no prior record and the offense has a low offense gravity score . Many cases in which a deadly weapon enhancement is applied will have the defendant facing statutory maximum charges for their case.
Additionally, many cases involving firearms include harsh mandatory minimum sentences that are well outside a usual standard range sentence. While some of these have been struck down in recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions, others still persist. A violation of Section 6105 will still require a mandatory minimum sentence, and other firearms offenses do as well.
If you have been charged with a crime involving a firearm, realize that the stakes are much higher than your average criminal case. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the criminal case where so many enhancements and mandatories may apply. Attorney Frank Walker is an experienced criminal defense attorney that has been defending the citizens of Allegheny County for years. Lines are open 24/7 at (412) 212-3878 to better serve you. Call today!