Guns are among the items in Pennsylvania experiencing a spike in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those in Chester County, thinking about purchasing firearms, it’s important to follow the process properly. Failing to do so can result in serious consequences because even completely innocent errors can mean being arrested for a firearm application mistake.

With the high stress levels in these uncertain times and confusing questions on firearm applications, you might easily overlook something when filling out the gun purchase paperwork. If that happens to you and now, you’re facing criminal charges, attorney Michael J. Skinner can help clear up confusion, correct issues and protect you.

Call (610) 436-1410 today or contact Skinner Law Firm online to set up a free and confidential consultation.

Common Chester County Gun Application Mistakes

Potential gun owners in Pennsylvania must fill out paperwork to purchase a firearm. The buyer is asked for personal identification and required to answer a series of questions regarding their criminal and mental health history. A mistake when providing any of this information could lead to an arrest for falsifying a firearm application.

The process of buying a gun typically begins with filling out a purchase application, the Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form (the 4473 form), and a Pennsylvania State Police Application/Record of Sale Form (SP 4-113). While some are straightforward, other questions can be confusing.

Typical mistakes made when filling out these forms include:

  • Conviction for a misdemeanor offense punishable by more than one year – This trips up applicants because it requires you to disclose a misdemeanor that COULD HAVE BEEN PUNISHABLE by more than a year of incarceration. It doesn’t matter what sentence you received. In addition, remember, that accepting a plea is a conviction. Don’t get tripped up because you didn’t have a trial.
  • Active Protection from Abuse (PFA) order – You must disclose any court order restraining you from contacting or harassing someone. These orders are the same as a PFA.
  • Misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse – Any misdemeanor conviction, no matter the amount of jail time involved, related to domestic violence must be disclosed. In Pennsylvania, assault, battery, abuse, rape, or other violent conduct against a member of your family or household is considered domestic abuse.

Gun Application Mistakes: The Consequences

A mistake on a gun application could result in your purchase being denied at a time you felt it was important to have a weapon. As bad as that might be, if you are arrested for a firearm application mistake, the potential consequences make it a lot worse.

A criminal firearm conviction carries serious legal penalties, which can impact your freedom, record, and ability to own firearms.

The possible penalties will depend on the facts involved. For instance, falsification of a gun application in PA may be a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine or a third-degree felony, punishable by seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines. As bad as being incarcerated would be in “normal” times, rates of COVID-19 are high in prison populations because there is no way to practice social distancing.

Beyond incarceration and fines, a gun-related conviction could affect your employment. Even if you are currently unemployed due to COVID-19, a firearm conviction could be part of a future employer’s background check. A conviction for falsification of a firearm application could also negatively impact your professional licensing. Additionally, legal trouble could harm custody arrangements or even where you live.

Contact a Chester County Gun Lawyer

Being blindsided by charges related to an error on a gun application can be shocking and leave you unsure of what to do. Don’t panic and don’t just plead guilty to “get it behind you.” This is a very serious criminal situation that needs to be dealt with properly.

You need an experienced gun lawyer and the Skinner Law Firm can help. A skilled attorney can effectively clear up the confusion, protect you from formal charges, and work to get the charge dismissed before your life is adversely affected. Protect yourself from fines, losing your gun rights, jail, and possible damage to your reputation, job, or custody rights.

Call (610) 436-1410 and schedule a free consultation with attorney Skinner.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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