West Chester

Weapons Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with committing a firearm or other weapon offense in Chester County, contact a dedicated and experienced gun lawyer right away. Although the Constitution gives you the right to keep and use firearms, this right has limits. There are strict laws that regulate who can possess, purchase, sell, and carry handguns and other weapons and in which locations. Violating gun laws can result in severe punishments, and may put your criminal record and firearm rights in jeopardy.

West Chester defense attorney Michael J. Skinner is well-versed in Pennsylvania and federal firearm laws. He understands the nuances that can shift you from a law-abiding gun owner to a defendant in a matter of minutes. It is sometimes possible to clear up a misunderstanding with a prosecutor and avoid gun charges. If a prosecutor files charges or a grand jury indicts you for a felony, there are also ways to defend yourself.

If you are a lawful gun owner currently facing criminal charges in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, do not hesitate to call a gun lawyer at Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410. You will benefit from an experienced attorney explaining your options, protecting your rights, and building the strongest possible defense strategy.

Pennsylvania Firearms Offenses

The Uniform Firearms Act (18 PA Cons Stat §§6101 – 6187) defines many of Pennsylvania’s firearm offenses. However, other gun crimes can be found under other areas of Pennsylvania and federal law.

At Skinner Law Firm, some of the most common charges our firearm lawyers defend against include:

  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (18 PA Cons State §6105)-Not everyone is entitled to buy, possess, or use a firearm in Pennsylvania. A prosecutor can charge you with a felony if you possess, use, control, sell, transfer, or manufacture a firearm after you have been convicted of a certain offense, are a fugitive, have been convicted of driving under the influence, have been adjudicated incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, are an undocumented immigrant, or have been adjudicated delinquent. A list of prohibited offenses can be found below.
  • Unlawful Sale or Transfer of Firearm (18 PA Cons Stat §6111) – Pennsylvania has several laws and regulations a private or licensed seller must complete before they can hand off a firearm to a purchaser or recipient. Not completing one or more of these requirements is a crime. For example, it is unlawful for you to sell or transfer a firearm to a purchaser if the person has not properly applied, is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, or before the end of the statutory waiting period.
  • Possession of a Prohibited Offensive Weapon (18 PA Cons Stat §908) – A prosecutor can charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor if you possess, use, sell, repair, or otherwise deal in any offensive weapon such as a firearm, bomb, grenade, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, dagger, knife, switchblade knife, stun gun, or any other weapon that can inflict serious body injury.
  • Persons Not to Possess Firearms (18 PA Cons Stat §6105)-This statute prescribes who is not entitled to possess firearms in Pennsylvania. You will find the list of prohibiting convictions below. You also cannot possess a firearm if you are currently a fugitive under the law, have been convicted of a drug criminal e, have three or more DUIs, you have been judged mentally incompetent or committed, you are an undocumented immigrant, you are the subject of a restraining order, you were judged a juvenile delinquent (until you are 30 years old), or you have been convicted of domestic violence anywhere in the U.S.
  • Carrying a Firearm Without a License (18 PA Cons Stat §6106) – If you carry a firearm in any vehicle or concealed on your person, except at home or your business, without a valid and lawfully issued license, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony. However, if you are otherwise eligible for a concealed carry license and you have not committed any other criminal violation, the prosecutor can charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Discharge of a Firearm into an Occupied Structure (18 PA Cons Stat §2707.1) – A prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly discharge a firearm from any location into an occupied structure.
  • Altering or Obliterating Marks of Identification (18 PA Cons Stat §6117) – A prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree felony if you change, alter, remove, or obliterate a manufacturer’s number on a firearm.
  • Falsification of Statements on a Gun Application (18 PA Cons Stat §6111(g)(4)) – You can be charged with a third-degree felony if you, in connection with a purchase, delivery, or transfer of a firearm, makes an intentionally false oral or written statement to the other party or on a federal or state form, or if you intentionally provide false ID that is meant to deceive a licensed dealer or manufacturer.

Offenses Prohibiting Someone from Carrying A Firearm

Pursuant to 18 PA Cons Stat §6105(b), the law may prohibit you from owning, possessing, or using a firearm if you are convicted of a certain offense. The statute lays out a lengthy list of offenses, including:

  • Possession of prohibited offensive weapons
  • Possession of a weapon on school property
  • Murder
  • Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Assault by a prisoner
  • Stalking
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure
  • Rape
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
  • Aggravated indecent assault
  • Arson
  • Causing or risking catastrophe
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Robbery of a motor vehicle
  • Theft by extortion and threats of violence
  • False report to a law enforcement officer regarding theft of a firearm
  • Impersonating a law enforcement officer
  • Intimidation of a witness or victim
  • Retaliation against a witness, victim, or party
  • Escape
  • Riot
  • Paramilitary training
  • Possession of a firearm by a minor
  • Corruption of a minor
  • Sale or lease of weapons or explosives

our awards & memberships

  • A professional non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to providing valuable information to the public about drunk driving laws. Members of the NCDD are considered the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the United States and Canada.

  • The preeminent organization in the United States. NACDL serves as a leader in identifying and reforming flaws in the criminal justice system, and addressing systemic racism, and ensuring that the criminal defense bar is fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

  • PACDL is the premier network of the best defense attorneys in PA with a mission to educate, advocate, and inspire by providing support for criminal defense lawyers, promoting effective competence, leveling the playing field, and protecting freedoms.

  • The Pennsylvania Bar Association promotes and protects the legal profession, the rights of Pennsylvania citizens and access to justice for all. Membership is open to any lawyer in good standing who is licensed by the Bar of Pennsylvania.

  • The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. Their mission is to serve its members, the legal profession, and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

  • The CCBA promotes professionalism, inclusion, and collegiality within the Chester County legal profession, and enhances the quality of life of its members and the practice of law within the community.

  • The NORML Legal Committee (NLC) is composed of attorneys committed to the overall goals of NORML. NLC attorneys meet each year to discuss emerging legal issues related to defense of marijuana consumers and to support each other in the pursuit of justice.

  • The American Institute’s Criminal Law Division is an impartial third-party rating service recognizing the excellence of fellow practitioners. To help clients across the United States make educated decisions, we compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State. Our “10 Best” is a prestigious honor extended only to those who have reached the top of their profession while doing so with the client’s satisfaction being of paramount importance.

  • The American Institute’s DUI/DWI Division recognizes the excellence of practitioners in the field of DUI/DWI defense. We compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State for potential clients to utilize. We look for Attorneys that have achieved unparalleled success but most importantly have done so for the benefit of their client. Very few Attorneys can do so and our organization recognizes this significant achievement.

  • Attorney Michael Skinner has been consistently recognized as among the best lawyers in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Attorneys are nominated via peer balloting, then vetted through our editorial process in various fields of practice.

  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. Membership is extended only to the most qualified attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. Each of our distinguished members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience, and success held by only the best and finest lawyers in America.

  • The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars further distinguishes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys, and to be eligible, a Rising Stars candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Consequences of a Weapons Crime in PA

The consequences of a gun crime conviction can be harsh. The minimum and maximum sentence you face depend on the level of the offense, such as whether it was a misdemeanor or felony.

In Pennsylvania, misdemeanors and felonies are divided among several degrees, which can be punished as:

First-Degree Felony (F-1)

Up to 20 years in prison, fines up to $25,000.

Second-Degree Felony (F-2):

Up to 10 years in prison, fines up to $25,000.

Third-Degree Felony (F-3)/Ungraded Felony

Up to seven years in prison, fines up to $15,000.

First-Degree Misdemeanor (M-1)

Up to five years in prison, fines up to $10,000.

Second-Degree Misdemeanor (M-2)

Up to two years in prison, fines up to $5,000.

Third-Degree Misdemeanor (M-3)/Ungraded Misdemeanor

Up to one year in prison, fines up to $2,500.

Additionally, when a judge or jury decides your sentence, they will consider the offense gravity score. Each crime in Pennsylvania is given a score. The higher the score, the more serious the offense, and the greater the recommended penalty.

A judge or jury also considers your criminal record. You are assigned a score between one and five points, which influences your sentence. Each crime is assigned a prior record value one m, which is a one-half point, one, or two. You only add an “m” offense if it would add up to a whole number. Your score cannot be one and half or two and a half.

Once all of these factors are calculated, Pennsylvania provides a sentencing matrix that is used to calculate your sentence.

Collateral Consequences of a Weapons Conviction

If you are convicted of a gun crime in Pennsylvania, fines and incarceration are not the only penalties. A conviction results in a permanent criminal record, which in turn leads to stigma and collateral consequences.

A gun conviction can result in:

  • Difficulty obtaining and education
  • Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
  • Difficulty maintaining a steady job
  • Inability to travel abroad
  • Child custody issues
  • Immigration issues and deportation proceedings
  • Loss of your firearm rights

Overview of Firearms and Weapons Charges in Pennsylvania

 

18 PA Con Stat § Description Statutory Class (Misdemeanor, Felony-Degree) §303.3 Offense Gravity Score §303.7

Prior Record Score Points

907(a) Possessing instruments of crime (criminal instruments) M-1 3 m
907(b) Possessing instruments of crime (weapon) M-1 4 1
907(c) Possessing instruments of crime (unlawful body armor) F-3 5 1
908(a) Prohibited offensive weapons M-1 4 1
908.1(a)(1) Use electric incapacitation device (intent to commit felony) F-2 8 2
908.1(a)(1) Use electric incapacitation device (no intent to commit felony) M-1 5 1
908.1(a)(2) Possess electric incapacitation device (intent to commit felony) F-2 7 2
908.1(a)(2) Possess electric incapacitation device (no intent to commit felony) M-1 4 1
912(b) Possession of weapon on school property M-1 4 1
913(a)(1) Possession of weapon in court facility M-3 1 m
913(a)(2) Possession of weapon in court facility (intend for criminal) M-1 3 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of enumerated felony (loaded/ammo available) ((a.1)(1)) F-2 10 2
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of enumerated felony (unloaded/no ammo available) ((a.1)(1)) F-2 9 2
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of enumerated misd. (loaded/ammo available) ((a.1)(1)) M-1 3 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of enumerated misd. (unloaded/no ammo available) ((a.1)(1)) M-1 3 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: accept w/PFA (loaded/ammo available) ((a.1)(2)(i)) M-3 2 m
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: accept w/PFA (unloaded/no ammo available) ((a.1)(2)(i)) M-3 1 m
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: fail to relinquish w/PFA (loaded/ammo available) ((a.1)(2)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: fail to relinquish w/PFA (unloaded/no ammo available) ((a.1)(2)) M-1 4 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: return to person w/PFA (loaded/ammo available) ((a.1)(5)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: return to person w/PFA (unloaded/no ammo available) (a.1)(5) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: fugitive

from justice (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(1))

M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: fugitive from justice (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(1)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of drug offense (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(2)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of drug offense (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(2)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of DUI (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(3)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: convicted of DUI (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(3)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: incompetent/mental illness (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(4)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: incompetent/mental illness (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(4)) M-1 4 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: alien (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(5)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: alien (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(5)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: active PFA (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(6)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: active PFA (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(6)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: adjudicated delinquent (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(7)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: adjudicated delinquent (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(7)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: adjudicated delinquent (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(8)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: adjudicated delinquent (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(8)) M-1 5 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: other under U.S.C. (loaded/ammo available) ((c)(9)) M-1 6 1
6105(a)(1)* Firearms-persons not to possess: other under U.S.C. (unloaded/no ammo available) ((c)(9)) M-1 5 1
6106(a)(1)* Firearms-carried w/o license: ineligible (loaded/ammo available) F-3 9 1
6106(a)(1)* Firearms-carried w/o license: ineligible (unloaded/no ammo available) F-3 7 1
6106(a)(2)* Firearms-carried w/o license: eligible

(loaded/ammo available & criminal act.)

F-3 9 1
6106(a)(2)* Firearms-carried w/o license: eligible (unloaded/no ammo available & criminal act.) F-3 7 1
6106(a)(2)* Firearms-carried w/o license (loaded/ammo available/no other criminal act.) M-1 4 1
6106(a)(2)* Firearms-carried w/o license (unloaded/no ammo available/no other criminal act.) M-1 3 1
6107(a) Firearms-prohibited conduct during emergency M-1 3 1
6108* Firearms-carrying in Philadelphia (loaded/ammo available) M-1 5 1
6108* Firearms-carrying in Philadelphia (unloaded/no ammo available) M-1 4 1
6110.1(a) Firearms-possession by minor M-1 3 1
6110.1(c) Firearms-delivery to minor by adult F-3 7 1
6110.2(a)* Firearms-possession w/altered mfr. number (loaded/ammo available) F-2 10 2
6110.2(a)* Firearms-possession w/altered mfr. number (unloaded/no ammo available) F-2 9 2
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours M-2 2 m
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours (false statements) F-3 8 1
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours (inappropriate use of criminal history) F-3 5 1
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours (sell to ineligible) F-3 8 1
6111(a)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver before 48 hours (unlawful criminal history request) F-3 5 1
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check M-2 2 m
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check (false statements) F-3 8 1
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check (inappropriate use of criminal history) F-3 5 1
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check (sell to ineligible) F-3 8 1
6111(a)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: deliver w/o criminal history check (unlawful criminal history request) F-3 5 1
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale M-2 2 m
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale (false statements) F-3 8 1
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale (inappropriate use of criminal history) F-3 5 1
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale (sell to ineligible) F-3 8 1
6111(b)(1) Firearms-sale/transfer: full app/record of sale (unlawful criminal history request) F-3 5 1
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee M-2 2 m
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee (false statements) F-3 8 1
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee (inappropriate use of criminal history) F-3 5 1
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee (sell to ineligible) F-3 8 1
6111(b)(1.2) Firearms-sale/transfer: transmit fee (unlawful criminal history request) F-3 5 1
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer M-2 2 m
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer (false statements) F-3 8 1
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer (inappropriate use of criminal history) F-3 5 1
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer (sell to ineligible) F-3 8 1
6111(c) Firearms-sale/transfer: thru licensed dealer (unlawful criminal history request) F-3 5 1
6111(g)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: to unqualified or ineligible person F-3 8 1
6111(g)(2) Firearms-sale/transfer: to unqualified or ineligible person (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6111(g)(4) Firearms-sale/transfer: false statements, materials, ID F-3 8 1
6111(g)(4) Firearms-sale/transfer: false statements, materials, ID (2nd/subsequent offense) F-2 9 2
6112 Firearms-dealer to be licensed M-1 3 1
6113(a)(1) Firearms-dealer license: sell in undesignated area M-1 3 1
6113(a)(2) Firearms-dealer license: fail to display license M-1 3 1
6113(a)(3) Firearms-dealer license: violation of act M-1 3 1
6113(a)(4) Firearms-dealer license: w/o knowledge of purchaser M-1 3 1
6113(a)(5) Firearms-dealer license: fail to keep record M-1 3 1
6113(a)(6) Firearms-dealer license: display firearm in public view M-1 3 1
6115(a) Firearms-lending prohibited M-1 3 1
6116 Firearms-give false info/identity for purchase M-1 3 1
6117(a) Firearms-alter mfr. number/ID F-2 7 2
6121(a) Firearms-certain bullets prohibited F-3 5 1
6122 Firearms-proof of license M-1 3 1

 

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Person Permitted to Carry Weapons

Certain persons are permitted to carry firearms without a license. These people include, but are not limited to:

  • Constables and sheriffs
  • Prison or jail wardens
  • Military members
  • Anyone engaged in target shooting
  • U.S. officers or employees
  • Agents of common carriers
  • Any person engaged in the business of manufacturing
  • Any person in the business of dealing or repairing firearms

Concealed Carry in Pennsylvania

To carry your handgun hidden on your person, you must obtain a license. Without a valid and lawfully issued license, concealed carry is illegal.

To obtain a concealed carry license, you must be 21 years old and apply for a license in your home county. The sheriff must issue a license if you meet all of the requirements, including a clean criminal record and evidence of a good character and reputation, you are acting a manner that is not dangerous to public safety, and you are not addicted to drugs or alcohol.

If you are arrested for carrying a concealed firearm without a license, contact a gun lawyer immediately.

Defending Against Gun Charges

The purpose of reaching out to an experienced firearm lawyer after being accused of a gun crime is to be able to vigorously defend yourself. To identify the strongest defense strategy or the most persuasive argument for a jury, you need a seasoned and successful attorney’s insights and analysis of your case.

Potential defenses to gun crimes include:

  • Mistake of identity: You may have an alibi for the time of the crime.
  • Right to Possess Firearm: Under Pennsylvania law, you may be entitled to carry a firearm.
  • Valid License: You may have had a valid license to carry a concealed weapon or reasonably believed you had a valid license. Also, you may have believed your concealed carry permit issued in another state was good in Pennsylvania.
  • Lack of Evidence: We may argue the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the gun offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Lack of Ownership: The firearm in question was owned and carried by someone else.
  • Lack of Witness Credibility/False Accusations: We may seek to prove in court that you are facing false accusations of a gun offense or that the witness’s testimony is not credible.

Call A West Chester Gun Attorney

Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged weapon or firearm offense. Attorney Michael J. Skinner will listen to your story and help you identify any mitigating factors or applicable defenses. You must obtain this legal analysis from an attorney who has experience defending against weapons charges. You should not call just any criminal defense attorney.

You want someone who knows Pennsylvania’s gun laws in and out, offers a critical analysis of the prosecutor’s case against you and can build the best strategy to win a reduction in the charges, dismissal, or acquittal.

We know how devastating it can be to lose your right to own and use a firearm, particularly when your gun allows you to hunt, skeet shoot, or feel safe in your own home. To discuss your case, contact us at (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation.