In or out of the house: Does it matter for your Pennsylvania gun charge?

In or out of the houseThe successful defense of any criminal charge requires a strategy. When it comes to gun or firearm charges in Pennsylvania, this strategy must begin at the pre-trial level with a motion to suppress evidence and continue at the trial level with arguments based on actual vs. constructive possession as well as direct and circumstantial evidence. Within these categories is the credibility of witnesses. I have written articles on all of these topics but it’s important not ignore the elements of certain commonly charge gun offenses.

Remember that in a criminal prosecution in Pennsylvania, the district attorney must establish each element beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof and much more of a burden than what is required at a preliminary hearing, a motion to suppress evidence, a motion to quash or a civil trial. The most common gun and firearm offenses in Philadelphia are violations of Section 6105, 6106, 6110.2, and 6108 under Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearm’s Act.

If you are charged with Section 6105 or Section 6110.2, it’s important to realize that your status and or the status of the firearm are critical elements of the offenses in addition to your either constructive or actual possession of the gun or firearm. Unlike sections 6106 or section 6108, your location is irrelevant to the Commonwealth’s burden of proof. You can’t be convicted under section 6106 or 6108 if you are in your home or your place of business. These sections specifically require you to be somewhere outside of these areas.

With regards to Section 6105, you are prohibited from carrying a gun or a firearm if you have been convicted of certain “enumerated offenses” which pertain to violence and/or illegal drugs or narcotics. Under Section 6110.2, it’s illegal to possess a gun or firearm with an obliterated serial number. As you can see, these criminal charges (aka VUFA charges) don’t involve a specific location so it pointless to argue about it during a trial or a pre-trial motion. It’s common for someone to face a number of “VUFA” charges based on one (1) gun or firearm found in their possession. People are often shocked to see that they are charged with three or four criminal charges based one incident.

If you are charged with the illegal possession of gun or firearm, your Pennsylvania Criminal Defense lawyer must evaluate all possible avenues for your defense at trial and during the pre-trial stage. I encourage you read my free book on criminal defense and my monthly newsletter for more on these topics