Firearm Violations in Pennsylvania – Do You Know What the Law Says?

Harrisburg Gun Crime Attorneys

Contrary to what many might think, it’s not just criminals, felons, parolees, or illegal aliens that are arrested for firearm violations. Pennsylvania’s laws governing what counts as a long gun, handgun, or firearm determines what can be lawfully transported and what constitutes a firearm violation, even if you have a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF).

For example, under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102, any pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15 inches long or with an overall length of less than 26 inches when measured from the barrel muzzle to the face of the closed action, counts as a firearm. For shotguns and rifles, the barrel length must be less than 18 inches while the overall length must be less than 26 inches when measured from the muzzle to the bolt or cylinder action.

This means any gun with a barrel longer than 18 inches or an overall length in excess of 26 inches is not covered by the definition of a firearm in Pennsylvania.

The Importance of Understanding the Definition of “Firearm”

Consequently, someone may mistakenly think only pistols or revolvers require a LTCF when being transported or when concealed. Unfortunately, this kind of confusion often arises when gun owners have an incomplete knowledge of gun laws or draw the wrong conclusion from widely publicized trials involving concealed carry and open carry cases.

For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the right of lawful gun owners to openly carry firearms without a LTCF in Commonwealth v. Ortiz and Commonwealth v. Hawkins. However, neither ruling allows lawful gun owners to carry a firearm concealed unless they have a permit to do so. Secondly, if a firearm is openly carried, it must be in plain sight and cannot be loaded when transported in a car.

As a result, if a gun owner transports a loaded rifle or shotgun that falls under the definition of “firearm,” he may be surprised to learn he’s in violation of Pennsylvania gun laws. Unfortunately, too many gun owners find this out the hard way when they’re pulled over on their way to the firing range or on a hunting trip.

Criminal Possession of a Firearm

There are a number of situations where possession of a firearm is illegal. Under Chapter 61 of Pennsylvania’s gun laws, possession of a firearm is illegal in the following situations:

• Possession of a firearm while committing a crime
• Possession of a firearm on school property
• Possession of a firearm by a minor
• Possession of a firearm after being convicted of a DUI
• Possession of a firearm by a felon
• Possession of a firearm after a restraining order has been issued against you
• The illegal sale or purchase of a firearm
• Possession of a firearm that has been converted to an automatic weapon

Contact Harrisburg Weapons Violations Attorneys

Pennsylvania’s gun laws can be confusing, leading to unwelcome surprises for gun owners who think they are complying with the law. For example, you may be aware lawful gun owners do not need a LTCF to transport their firearms to the firing range for target practice. However, transporting a firearm is limited to travel to and from the firing range only. As a result, under 18 PA.C.S 6106(11), if you stop to run an errand or have breakfast along the way, you’re in violation of Pennsylvania’s gun laws.

If you’ve been arrested on a weapons or firearms violation, contact Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys at Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLC. We can evaluate your case and discuss the best legal defense options available to you.

Pennsylvania DUI Offenses

If you have been arrested for or charged with drunk driving in Pennsylvania, the consequences will differ somewhat based on whether or not you have been convicted of a similar offense in the past. Here is an outline of the sanctions you face if found guilty of DUI in PA:

First Offense

For a first offense, whether you are charged with simple violation of blood alcohol content laws, have a high BAC or the highest BAC, you will be charged with an ungraded misdemeanor. Your sentence can be no more than six months, and can including up to 72 hours of consecutive jail time. The fines can range from $300 to $5,000, with your license suspended anywhere from two months to twelve months.

Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance law of DUI for anyone under the age of 21. If you are convicted of violating the zero tolerance law, you face the possible suspension of your driving privileges for one year, mandatory drug and alcohol evaluation, a fine of up to $500 (along with court costs and restitution), and attendance at a state-approved alcohol highway safety program. If you are younger than 18, you can also face a complaint in juvenile court.

You can get a limited license to travel to and from work after a first DUI offense. You may also be required to complete 150 hours of community service.

Second Offense

For subsequent offenses, minimal and high BAC offenses are still ungraded misdemeanors, but charges involving the highest level of blood alcohol are a 1st degree misdemeanor. Jail sentences can be up to six months. Fines can be as high as $5,000, and not less than $1,500 for highest BAC offenses. You can lose your license for up to 18 months.

Zero tolerance laws are similar, and occupational licenses are subject to strict guidelines.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, every client receives a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

The Importance Of An ALR Hearing

If you have been charged with drinking and driving in Pennsylvania, you will face an administrative proceeding regarding the suspension or revocation of your license, as well as a criminal hearing to determine guilt or innocence, and any penalties to be assessed. At the administrative proceeding, you may be assessed additional penalties if your blood alcohol level was greater than .08% or you refused to take a breathalyzer test. Your license could be suspended anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, depending on how many times you have been convicted.

At the ALR hearing, you will have the opportunity to show why your driving privileges should not be suspended. At this hearing, you can request a conditional occupational license, which will allow you to continue to operate a motor vehicle for limited purposes, including driving to and from work, to the doctor’s office or to other essential appointments. You can challenge efforts to have your driving privileges suspended, but you must request a proper hearing to do so. The request must be made within 10 days of your arrest on DUI charges.

When you challenge the revocation or suspension of your license at an ALR hearing, you can make many of the same arguments available in other criminal proceedings. You can challenge the traffic stop, alleging that police did not have probable cause to pull you over. You can question the legality of field sobriety or breath/blood alcohol tests. Successfully challenging the administrative revocation or suspension of your license can allow you to keep your job and maintain your lifestyle.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, every client receives a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Interstate Drug Trafficking

If you are under investigation for or have been charged with interstate drug trafficking, sale or distribution, you want an experienced and aggressive lawyer to protect your rights. Interstate trafficking is a federal offense. When you are charged with a drug crime in the federal courts, different rules apply, including the possibility that your assets will be forfeited.

There are many ways to protect your interests in an interstate drug trafficking prosecution:

  • The first is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Because the federal criminal justice system is distinctly different from the state system, you want a lawyer who has handled cases there, who knows federal criminal procedure, and can make certain you don’t unnecessarily provide prosecutors with evidence against you.
  • It is also critical to exercise your constitutional rights, starting with the right to remain silent. You do not have to talk with law enforcement officers or with federal prosecutors without having your attorney present. You also have a right to know the charges against you and to confront your accuser.
  • Don’t allow law enforcement officers to search your property without a warrant. Police must have probable cause to search for drugs or drug paraphernalia. If you voluntarily allow them into your home, they may view evidence that can be used to get a warrant.  Always ask to see a warrant. If they don’t have one, you can ask them to leave.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, every client receives a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Criminal Appeals

If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you don’t have to simply accept the sentence handed down by the court. If there were mistakes made by the judge during the trial, you have the right to seek reversal from a court of appeals.

The appellate process is significantly different from the trial process. In an appeal, the court will only rule on issues of law, and never on issues of fact. Accordingly, you can only file an appeal if you believe there were errors of law at trial. These can include:

• Mistakes in allowing or denying the admission of evidence used to convict you. If evidence was illegally obtained, or is not relevant, and was allowed in over the objections of your attorney, you have a right to appeal. Likewise, if you have information that could have exonerated you, and the judge wrongfully denied its introduction, you can seek a reversal.
• Errors in the instructions given to the jury. In our criminal justice system, the jury determines the facts and the judge rules on the law. The judge will provide specific instructions to the jurors, telling them what the law is, should they make certain determinations of fact. Customarily, the judge asks counsel for the state and for the defendant to submit proposed jury instructions, and then approves them. As a result, mistakes can be made.

An appeal also differs from trial in that there is no jury. Your case will be heard by a single judge or by a panel of judges. If your ruling is overturned, your case will likely be sent back to the trial court for a new hearing.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. Contact us online or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

The Inaccuracy of Breathalyzer Tests

In a DUI / drunk driving case, the prosecutor will rely on the results of a breathalyzer test to obtain a conviction against you. However, breathalyzer tests are not always reliable, and the results can often be tainted by other factors. In fact, recent scientific studies have shown that results can vary as much as 15%, and that breath tests can provide different results from blood tests as often as two out of every three times. Don’t plead guilty to drinking and driving just because police have a breathalyzer test result that puts you over the legal limit.

There are a variety of ways to that breathalyzer test results can be compromised:

  • The presence of other chemicals near the test subject can skew the results. For example, if you work with paints or other chemicals, or if you wear alcohol-based cologne or perfume, you can get a false reading. The use of mouthwash can alter the reliability of breath tests, as can vomit or blood in the mouth. Even high consumption of bread can lead to a false positive.
  • Other health conditions can affect the results. If you are diabetic, you may get an inaccurately higher breath alcohol reading. By the same token, if you are anemic (low blood iron), you can also test high. Furthermore, medication that you are required to take can combine with small amounts of alcohol to give a false reading.
  • There can be a break in the chain of custody. If you can show that the breathalyzer tests left the custody of police at any time, you can argue that the results could have been tainted when outside of custody.
  • At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, every client receives a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Criminal Defense in Harrisburg, PA

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, our practice is focused on providing a strong criminal defense ? applying both our legal experience and attorney Roger Laguna’s work as a former police officer to our cases in the Greater Harrisburg community.

© 2019 Laguna Reyes. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Sitemap

Concept, Design & Hosting by GetLegal.com's Practice Builder Team

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING