Q: My fiance very stupidly went to buy a shotgun at Walmart and checked the “no” box for having prior felonies. He has prior felonies, including weapons charges. They just called him yesterday and pressing charges for a felony offense of Sale of Transfer of firearms under 18 Pa.C.S.A § 6111(g)(4)(ii) for “knowingly and intentionally” making a background check materially false written statement in connection with the purchase, delivery, or transfer of a firearm. Making a false statement includes completion of the gun application form. The other charge is a misdemeanor offense of Unsworn Falsification to Authorities and he had his arraignment today. His preliminary is going to be on March 15th. What can I expect? I am pretty sure it will go to trial, but will I get lucky and him not get jail time? A: Sometimes I get these cases withdrawn at the Preliminary Hearing where the person is otherwise a good citizen, has one criminal case in their history and it is believable that that they were unaware that the past crime carried a term of incarceration of more than one year. Other times the police officer and/or the DA are not so generous. The wording of the form that one must sign when purchasing a firearm, in my opinion, contains insufficient notice and is confusing to those untrained in the law. However, your fiance is well-aware of his prior four felonies and his actions are more difficult to explain. Does he have brain damage or is he incompetent? Is he illiterate and couldn’t read the form? I say this seriously as mental health and cognitive problems are the plague of many violators of the law. As for him going to jail, with four felony convictions, the sentencing guidelines will call for incarceration. However, due it being a non-violent offense, and the confusion of the ill-written form, I can usually keep people out of jail. You should have a lawyer review the entire case before you give up on it.
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