Pennsylvania Gun Crimes – Loaded vs. Unloaded – Does it matter?
I’ve written previous articles on violations of the Uniform Firearms Act in Pennsylvania (VUFA). The most common offenses that we see in our criminal defense practice in Philadelphia are violations of Section 6105, 6106, 6108, and 6110.2. These crimes can be graded as felonies and misdemeanors depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the person’s prior criminal history. Under Section 6105(a)(1), a person is guilty of a felony of the second degree if he’s convicted of carrying a weapon as a “prohibited person” after being convicted of a “enumerated felony.” Whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded it’s still a felony of the second degree but the offense gravity score (OGS) drops from a 10 to a 9. Under the same section the conviction for 6105 is a misdemeanor if the person is prohibited from carrying a firearm due to a conviction for an enumerated misdemeanor.
An enumerated misdemeanor would include such offenses as certain multiple driving under the influence (DUI) charges, and certain drug misdemeanor charges. In addition, a person who is the subject of an active protection from abuse order (PFA) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he intentionally or knowingly fails to relinquish a gun, firearm, weapons or ammunition upon the issuance of such an order. If the gun or firearm is loaded the offense gravity score for this offense is a 5 but it’s a 4 if the gun is unloaded.
A person who is prohibited from carrying a gun or a firearm can also commit a violation of Section 6106 if he is found with the weapon outside of his home or place of business. Under Section 6106(a)(1), a person commits a felony of a third degree if this person is already ineligible under Section 6105. It is still a felony of the third degree if the gun or firearm is unloaded but the offense gravity score drops from a 9 to a 7. A violation of section 6106(a)(2) is a misdemeanor of the first degree if a person is eligible to carry a gun or a firearm and is committing no other criminal acts at the time of his arrest. If the gun is loaded the offense gravity score is a 4 and if the gun or firearm is unloaded it is a 3. Under Section 6110.2(a), a person commits a felony of a second degree if the gun is loaded. While it’s still a felony of the second degree if the gun is unloaded the offense gravity score drops from a 10 to a 9.
Gun and firearm offenses are serious and it is important that your attorney understand the different elements of each of these offenses. I encourage you to read my monthly newsletter for updates on these crimes and visit our free download section for a copy of my latest book, “What Everyone Should Know About Guns, Drugs, and Defense Attorneys in Pennsylvania”.