Our law firm defends illegal gun and firearm offenses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey. While these criminal offenses are frequently graded as felonies of the 2nd degree in Pennsylvania and crimes of the 2nd degree in New Jersey (Graves Act), there are situations where this typical felony offense under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, Section 6105, is graded as a misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, a person who has been convicted of an enumerated offense, regardless of the length of sentence, or commits another crime or offense under Section 6105, cannot possess, use, control, sell, or transfer a firearm within the Commonwealth.
Title 18, Section 6105 (Persons Not Possess of Gun or Firearm in Pennsylvania)
Normally, a violation of Section 6105 is a felony of the 2nd degree because a person has been previously convicted of an enumerated felony offense such as aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, or some other violent felony crime. A person can also violate Section 6105 and face a felony of the 2nd degree penalty if they have been previously convicted of being a member of a corrupt organization under Section 911 (Title 18) or if they are a repeat offender for a felony theft offense. With that said, Section 6105 isn’t always graded as a felony offense if the person hasn’t committed a violent felony or some other felony offense, but rather, an enumerated misdemeanor such as a violation of Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Device, and Cosmetic Act or any equivalent federal or state statute that is punishable by more than 2 years of incarceration (I.e. misdemeanor of the 1st degree). Another enumerated offense which would result in a violation of 6105, graded as a misdemeanor, is an individual who has been convicted of drunk driving or driving under the influence [DUI (Section 3802) (Title 75)] on 3 or more occasions within a 5 year period.
Finally, any person who is subject to an active protection from abuse (PFA) issued pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. 6108, which required him or her to relinquish or give up firearms (within 60 days of the order) during the period that the order was in effect, also commits a misdemeanor offense under 6105.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Offenses in Pennsylvania—State Prison vs. Probation?
As I have previously discussed in articles, there is a dramatic difference between a misdemeanor and felony offense in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A violation of 6105 because of a previous conviction for an enumerated misdemeanor offense is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree with an offense gravity score of 3. A violation of the same section, however, for an enumerated felony is graded as a felony of the 2nd degree and carries with it an offense gravity score of 10. In Pennsylvania, a person who faces a misdemeanor under 6105 with no prior criminal history will more than likely receive a short period of probation whereas that same individual could receive a state prison sentence for the felony graded offense.
If you’re charged with a violation of Section 6105, it is important that your criminal defense lawyer explain the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges. Never assume that you face a felony offense just because you are charged under Section 6105 as there are very extensive lists of offenses which fall under the category of enumerated felony misdemeanor offenses. In addition to this criminal charge, a person who violates Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act (VUFA) could also face criminal charges under Section 6106 (Carrying without a permit or license to carry), 6108 (Carrying without a permit on the streets of Philadelphia), and 6110.1 (Carrying a gun or with an serial numbers.)
We see these offenses typically when individuals are arrested following a traffic stop, but remember, a person can violate Section 6105 by mere possession, whereas the other subsections require a person to be out of their home or place of business.
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