While the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of citizens to bear arms, there are restrictions in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. People accused of being in violation of these restrictions are facing serious charges that can have a devastating effect on their futures. When you are arrested on a gun crime charge, you need to learn all you can about the possible consequences and you need an attorney with the knowledge and experience to protect your rights. You can find both here.
Charges You Could Face in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the Uniform Firearms Act (Title 18 Chapter 61, Section 6101) deals with all matters pertaining to the use, transfer, sale, and maintenance of firearms. Pennsylvania classifies firearms as any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches, or any rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches. Most gun charges in Pennsylvania are felony offenses and not misdemeanor charges. All of these concepts are explained in my free book, What Everyone Should Know About Guns, Drugs and Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania
The most common illegal gun charges we defend are:
- Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, Section 6105
- Possession of a firearm by an unlicensed person, Section 6106
- Carrying an illegal gun on a city street or public property in the city of Philadelphia, Section 6108
- Possession of a firearm with the serial or manufacturer’s number obliterated or altered, Section 6110.2
Illegal gun charges are felony offenses. You also potentially face a harsher sentence if you are charged with a violent felony offense—such as aggravated assault, robbery, or burglary—along with a gun charge. A person who violates section 6106 of the Uniform Firearms Act commits a felony of the third degree, while a person who violates section 6105 commits a felony of the second degree. Finally, if a person authors or obliterates the serial number for a firearm—a violation of Section 6110—it’s a felony of the second degree.
While mandatory minimum sentences in Pennsylvania are now unconstitutional, any combination of illegal guns and drugs subjects a person to a harsher penalty because the district attorney or prosecutor will argue that the combination of these two illegal items could convince a judge to believe that you are a drug dealer and result in a harsher sentence.
New Jersey Gun Laws Are Very Different
New Jersey maintains one of the toughest gun laws in the United States. Remember that your gun permit, even from a bordering state like Pennsylvania or New York, is not valid in New Jersey. If you cross the bridge into New Jersey with a gun and no license for it, you are committing a very serious crime.
The main statute covering the unlawful or illegal use of a firearm is known as the Graves Act. This law, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c), imposes a mandatory minimum state prison sentence for the following crimes:
- Unlawful possession of a machine gun, handgun, rifle, or shotgun.
- Possession of a sawed-off shotgun.
- Possession of a defaced firearm.
- Possession of a firearm while in the course of committing drug distribution or possession.
- Possession of certain weapons by a person previously convicted of a specified offense.
If you are convicted under New Jersey statute 2C:39-5(b), you are guilty of a second degree felony. A judge has no discretion and must sentence you to a term of five to ten years in New Jersey state prison. You are ineligible for parole for at least three years, and so you will have to serve the minimum of three years of this sentence. If it is your second conviction, you are looking at a five to ten year mandatory minimum sentence with no parole eligibility until five years have passed.
Despite these mandatory minimum sentences under the Graves Act, a person can still avoid jail in certain situations. A person charged under the Graves Act is still entitled to Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or probation, but both of these programs would require consent by the Prosecutor’s Office and the help of an experienced gun charge defense attorney.
Contact Gambone Law to Learn More
For more information about how our law firm defends illegal gun charges in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, read our blog, watch our videos or read a copy of our book, What Everyone Should Know About Guns, Drugs and Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania
A strong illegal gun charge defense will focus on actual possession, rather than on constructive possession. In addition, a strong defense for these charges will start with the proper strategy at a preliminary hearing. Don’t delay in seeking skilled representation. Contact us today.