Do you have questions about the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon? Have you been arrested for possessing a firearm and have a previous felony conviction on your record? If so, contact the aggressive criminal defense team at The Zeiger Firm for help. For nearly 20 years, our firm has been synonymous with zealous and aggressive advocacy for those facing criminal charges. We pride ourselves on the high-quality legal representation we provide and on our track record of delivering results under the most serious of circumstances.
Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Brian Zeiger can review your case and offer practical legal advice about your situation. We are ready to work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend your freedoms. Contact our Pennsylvania office today for a free and confidential consultation.
Firearm Prohibitions for Convicted Felons in Pennsylvania
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects a person’s right to bear arms. However, states can place restrictions on this right in certain circumstances. Individuals convicted of any felony offense in Pennsylvania are essentially barred from possessing a firearm. Under most circumstances, a convicted felon cannot legally buy or own a gun in Pennsylvania.
Specifically, under the Violation of Uniform Firearms Act (VUFA) 6105, a person convicted of any of the following criminal offenses in Pennsylvania or elsewhere cannot legally possess a firearm:
- Murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter (if the offense is based on the reckless use of a firearm)
- Aggravated assault or assault by a prisoner or life prisoner
- Possessing a weapon on school property
- Crimes related to corrupt organizations
- Possessing or using prohibited offensive weapons or weapons of mass destruction
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint
- Rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure
- Aggravated indecent assault
- Criminal trespass if the offense is a felony of the second degree or higher
- Arson and related offenses
- Causing or risking catastrophe
- Robbery or robbery of a motor vehicle
- Theft by extortion when committed with threats of violence
- Theft by unlawful taking or disposition
- False reports to law enforcement authorities if the report involved the theft of a firearm
- Intimidation or retaliation of a witness or victim
- Impersonating a public servant
- Escape or weapons or implements for escape
- Prohibiting paramilitary training
- Offenses related to fascismile weapons of mass destruction
- Possession of a firearm by a minor
- Corruption of a minor
- Sale or lease of weapons or explosives
VUFA 6106 also requires a permit to carry certain types of firearms.
When Can a Felon Be Permitted to Possess a Firearm Under Federal Law?
Can a convicted felon own a firearm? The answer to the question is a qualified yes. While felons are generally prevented by law from owning a firearm, there are exceptions to the rule. Under federal law, the only circumstances where a convicted felon may be permitted to possess a firearm include:
- When the conviction has been pardoned
- When the conviction has been expunged
- When a felon’s civil rights are restored by the state where the felony offense was committed
What Is a Criminal Pardon?
One of the scenarios where convicted felons may be able to restore their right to possess a firearm is if the conviction is pardoned. Only the Governor of Pennsylvania can grant a pardon for a state-level crime. A pardon is usually sent to the Governor’s desk by the Board of Pardons.
At this point, you are probably wondering how to get a pardon in PA. The process can be complex and involves a lengthy investigation and decision-making process. First, you must file an application. If the Board of Pardons accepts your completed application, they may schedule a state parole agent interview. The parole agent will then report their findings to the Board of Pardons, and the agency will review all the materials related to your case. If the Board of Pardons moves your pardon forward, the next step in the pardon process is a hearing. During the hearing, your attorney can present character witnesses, and the Board can ask you questions.
Board members will then vote on whether to recommend you for a pardon. At least three members must vote in your favor. If the Board votes in your favor, your pardon is sent to the Governor. Finally, the Governor will make the ultimate decision on whether to grant your pardon.
Although the process is time-consuming, a pardon can open new doors for convicted felons by restoring their rights. A pardon can also effectively remove obstacles to gaining employment, finding housing, and pursuing a degree.
Penalties for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
If you are convicted of a felony offense in Pennsylvania, you have 60 days to dispose of firearms that may be in your possession.
The penalty for a convicted felon with a firearm can be severe. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second-degree felony charge. If you are convicted of the violation, you can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. It may also be possible for a convicted felon in possession of a firearm to be charged with a first-degree felony if they have previously been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. If convicted felon is caught with a firearm in their vehicle or concealed on their body, they could also be charged with a first-degree felony offense.
Conviction of a first-degree felony can result in a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years and fines up to $25,000.
What Are the Common Defenses to a Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charges?
If you are facing a possession of a firearm charge and are a convicted felon, you need to reach out to an aggressive and experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can craft a strategic defense plan aimed at achieving the most favorable outcome possible, given the circumstances of your case. Common defense tactics to combat a felon in possession of a firearm charge include:
- Law enforcement found the firearm while conducting an illegal search and seizure
- You took possession of a firearm to prevent an individual from committing a crime
- You did not knowingly possess the firearm
- The prosecution lacks hard evidence that you possessed the firearm
Just as you have the right to keep and bear arms, you have the right to an attorney if you are facing serious criminal charges. Moreover, you deserve to have a defense attorney who is as committed to the successful resolution of your case as you are. Exercise this right and seek the help of an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer.
Speak to an Attorney for Help
Need help seeking a criminal pardon to restore your firearm possession rights? Have you been arrested for violating the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon law? The skilled criminal defense team at The Zeiger Firm wants to help you. We zealously represent our clients and are ready to craft a strong defense on your behalf.
Contact us today for a free case review with an aggressive and experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney.