Category Archives: Firearms

Will I be able to purchase a handgun?

Q: The offense was in 2006 and there were originally 2 counts and a simple assault. The simple assault was withdrawn as well as one of the two harassment charges.

A: 2709 subsections a 1, 2, 3 are summary offenses unless the offender has previously violated a PFA order involving the same victim, family or household member. In that case the grading would be enhanced to a misdemeanor 3. Subsections a 4, 5, 6 and 7 are graded as a misdemeanor 3’s. Under the firearms statute, you cannot possess a gun if you have been convicted of any crime punishable by over one year of incarceration. Misdemeanor 3’s are not and only punishable up to one year of incarceration. Summary offenses are only punishable up to 90 days in jail. As long as all your convictions are Summary offenses or misdemeanor 3’s, you should be eligible. Unless you expunged the higher crimes, you were charged with in the past, but which were withdrawn, like Simple Assault, (a misdemeanor 2) they will still show on your record which may cause you to be rejected upon applying. I would pay an attorney to file Partial Expungement Petitions for every crime you were not convicted of, wait till your record clears, then apply to purchase.

Can I get Taser?

Q: I have a misdemeanor 1 in PA for a second DUI. I read sections pa 18 908.1. Section C states that people who can’t possess firearms in PA can’t obtain a taser if you have something in pa 18 6105 prohibited person not to carry firearms. I understand that I may not possess a firearm due to federal regulation us 18 922 sections g because my DUI may have carried more than 2 years imprisonment therefore baring me from a firearm federally. Would this also make me ineligible for a taser since this is a federal issue that I was barred under and not a state issue? I am confused because it is listed in section pa 18 6105 that if you are federally barred you can’t possess a firearm in PA state law and therefore no taser? Sorry for confusion didn’t know if anyone could clarify this mess for me. (McCandless, Twp., PA)

A: No. If convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison, you are ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law. If you are ineligible to possess a firearm under Federal law, you may not possess one under Section 6105 of the PA Crimes Code. Your DUI was a Misdemeanor 1 which is punishable by more than one year in jail. (not more than five years on jail) It is not only a Federal issue with tasers, but a PA state issue as well. 18 PA C.S. § 908.1 c, prohibits you from possessing such an electronic device if you are barred from possessing a “firearm” under section 6015 of the PA Crimes Code.

Can I get a gun in PA with a 30-year old expunged arson conviction in CA?

Q: I was convicted of Arson 30 years ago at age 19. Received 3 years of probation with 1-year jail time. I turned myself in, it was my first offense and I had a good lawyer. I had my record expunged 25 years ago in CA (1203.4). I obtained R.N. license in CA and PA and still practice in PA. I serve as licensed Minister in local church. Will PA grant me license to own and carry? Last employment change to work in hospital had the record on it, with notice of expungement included. (Wexford, PA)

A: Expunged, at least in PA, means that the criminal records have been deleted and destroyed and they should not show on your criminal history. Only certain types of arrest records and conviction records are eligible to be expunged in PA. My advice to you, and for anyone I do expungement work for, is to obtain your criminal history from the PA State Police. If your criminal history shows this crime, then you can begin the inquiry as to why, if it was supposedly expunged. Did the court administration in CA just not send the order to expunge out, or, does PA not acknowledge an expungement of this category of crime from another state when it is not eligible to be expunged in PA. I would have to inquire myself and I would start by obtaining your criminal history. My concern is that because the crime of Arson is not eligible to be expunged in PA, you may have a problem. However, I would inquire before throwing in the proverbial towel.

Does a felon have to do to get his records cleared to rifle hunt in PA?

Q: Hi. I am a felon. I’ve grown up hunting and I know I can use a crossbow. I have kids and would love to be able to teach them how I was taught when I was growing up, with a rifle. Now I know with a felony I can’t do that but was told there is ways, so wanted to ask. What do you think? (Lincoln Borough, PA)

A:  If you are certain you were actually convicted of a felony, you cannot possess a firearm under PA and Federal law. You cannot expunge the felony. You may be eligible for a pardon, but it is a not an easy task. You should consult with an attorney who handles pardons in PA.

Can I purchase a rifle, pistol, or get a carry permit?

Q: Can I purchase any of these with just a DUI and sSmple Assault misdemeanor on my state police background check that I ordered by mail?

A: I would have to look at the PA State Police criminal history record, but, I would think not, if either of those offenses was graded as a misdemeanor 2. A prior conviction for a Misdemeanor 2, will disqualify you from possessing a firearm in PA.

Can a vehicle passenger get arrested if firearm found under seat?

Q: There were the three passengers in the vehicle, a firearm was found and no one confessed to it being theirs, but only the passenger was arrested. The driver and the person in the backseat was let go while the passenger was arrested. Is that illegal? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  It is common for the police to charge all occupants of a motor vehicle if contraband was found in an area of the car in which any one of the occupants could have hidden the contraband. The DA can prosecute the case under a “constructive possession” theory, and even get a conviction. However, the police have the freedom to charge whoever they want. It is not unusual for the police to arrive, talk to several actors or witnesses and decide on the spot, who to charge and who not to charge. In your case, they figure, ok, if nobody will admit to it and make our job more difficult, we will charge them all and they can fight it out in court. Is it fair to the defendant who is charged and is not guilty? No, it is just the way it is. So, to answer your question, yes, the police can charge only one of the vehicle occupants. The good news is that the at trial, person charged can blame it on the other occupants to create reasonable doubt. If there is any doubt as to possession and his or her lawyer is half good, it will be a not guilty verdict.

Can someone be arrested for unknowingly lying on a gun application?

Q: Someone I know filled out an application to purchase a gun, not thinking the 2 nights they spent in a health facility ten years ago mattered. They were arrested for it a few months later, spent the night in jail, had a hearing scheduled. The attorney wanted this person to agree to paying a $150 fine even though the attorney said the whole thing was ridiculous. There were a bunch of magistrates around during the time the hearing was scheduled for, so this person never showed for the hearing because they felt as though it was a trumped-up charge and was going to be arrested for past unpaid warrants.

A: This person needs a lawyer. As you describe it, they made matters worse by not showing for the hearing. It sounds like the attorney had the case bargained down to a summary offense, which would have been a good result for your friend. Yes, one can be arrested for giving false information on an application to purchase a firearm. People are presumed to know what has happened to them in their past. One should have a vivid memory of spending two nights in a mental health ward. However, we are not all wired alike. I have had some success in getting these charges dismissed in circumstances where the person otherwise has no criminal or mental health history and it is believable that they did not fully understand the legal implications of their own history especially considering the confusing questions on the purchase application form. The definition of “Knowingly” in the PA Crimes Code, does give rise to defendable argument.

How can I file a petition through the courthouse to receive my firearm back?

Q: Two years-ago I was convicted of a misdemeanor of simple assault attempt and had my firearm confiscated. The police told me I can have my property back but I must file a petition with the courts. (West Mifflin, PA)

A: With the conviction, you may now be ineligible to possess the firearm. I would need to know exactly what grade of offense you were convicted of. I would speak with a criminal defense attorney about a petition to return property. If it is economically worth it to spend the money, perhaps a transfer to a friend eligible to possess a firearm can be arranged through the petition.

What is the punishment for answering wrong on a firearm application in PA?

Q: Record only shows a juvenile misdemeanor. He was not aware that his juvenile record would count against him. He thought that would be fine by now. He went to buy a rifle and he answered a question wrong. Now he is going to court. What is the prognosis on this? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: To answer your question the best I can with this limited information, I will assume your son’s juvenile conviction was a misdemeanor 2 or greater, it appears on his criminal history and it is not an offense that can be expunged after he reached age 21. Based on these assumptions, he can be charged with 18 PA. C.S. Sec. 6111, Sale or Transfer of Firearms, a Felony 3. He can also be charged with 18 Pa. C.S. Sec 4904, Unsworn Falsification to Authorities, which is a Misdemeanor 3. I have some luck with these cases in my county based on how poorly written and confusing the question on the “Firearm Transaction Record” is. I suggest he hire a lawyer to investigate his prior offense and to represent him on these charges.

Can I obtain a pistol permit with a disorderly conduct on my record?

Q: I had a Disorderly Conduct charge 9 years ago. I know it stays on my record, but can I obtain a pistol permit and own a hand gun?

A: A Disorderly Conduct can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a summary. Currently as a misdemeanor, it is graded as a level 3 (M3). I will assume it was graded as such nine years ago. If you either pled guilty or were found guilty of a M3 nine years ago, you should be eligible to possess a firearm in PA. If it was a summary offense you are likewise not barred from possessing a firearm. You should be eligible for an expungement of both.