VUFA? Charged with a gun crime in Pennsylvania? What must they actually prove?

Our law firm receives a number of questions about firearm (gun) crimes in Pennsylvania. Most people, however, fail to understand what the district attorney (prosecution) must actually prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to convict them of a specific firearm charge.

Gun CrimeWhile the Uniform Firearms Act is composed of a number of gun charges, we wanted to take this opportunity to define the elements of the most common criminal charges, which are sometimes called VUFA offenses in Pennsylvania. The most common firearm charges are violations of Section 6105, 6106, 6108, and 6110.2. Below are the elements of each offense 

Persons not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell, or Transfer a Firearm – 18 Pa.C.S. Section 6105

  • What does prosecution need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt?
  1. You were a person prohibited by law from possessing, using, controlling, selling, transferring, manufacturing or obtaining a license for a firearm or an electric or electronic incapacitation device (i.e. Taser)
  1. You are a “prohibited person” in Pennsylvania if you have been convicted of any of the following:
    • A Crime under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act of the Commonwealth, or an equivalent statute in violation of the laws of any other state, or the United States, that is punishable by a prison term exceeding two years.
    • Had been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or a controlled substance in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth on 3 or more separate occasions within a five-year period.
  1. You are also a “prohibited person” in Pennsylvania if you are any of the following:
    • adjudicated incompetent or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment;
    • an alien unlawfully or illegally within the United States;
    • subject of an active protection from abuse order under the laws of the Commonwealth where the order provided for the confiscation of firearms during the period of the order;
    • adjudicated delinquent by a Pennsylvania court or any state, for any of the “enumerated offenses.” These are any offenses include but are not limited to robbery, burglary, rape, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, witness intimidation, kidnapping, and the possession of certain weapons.

Carrying Firearm without a License – 18 Pa.C.S. Section 6106

  • What does prosecution need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt?
    • You carried a firearm in a car, or concealed on your person;
    • You weren’t home or at your place of business;
    • You didn’t have a valid license.
  • Pennsylvania defines as a “firearm” is any of the following:
    • pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15 inches;
    • shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches;
    • rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches;
    • any pistol, revolver, rifle, or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches

In Pennsylvania, it’s not “firearm” if it not operable, or capable of firing a projectile. If it’s not operable, you also can’t have the means to convert the object into one capable of firing a shot.

Altering/Obliterating Identification Marks on Firearms—18 Pa.C.S. Section 6110.2

  • What does prosecution need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt?
    • You changed, altered, removed or obliterated the manufacturer’s number integral to the frame or receiver of a firearm;
    • You did it intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
  • What is really intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly?
    • You act intentionally when it is your conscious object or purpose to alter or obliterate the manufacturer’s number.
    • You act knowingly when you’re aware that it is practically certain that your conduct will cause a result.
    • You are recklessly when you consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk such that your conduct will bring about a result.
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