Straw Purchase Mandatory Minimum Gun Offense in Pennsylvania
Our criminal defense law firm located in Philadelphia handles a number of violations of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act (Title 18 § 6101 (short title)]. Within this statute there are a number of other sections which will result in a felony record if violated, even if the person has no prior criminal history.
I have written a number of articles on violations of Section 6105 (possession of a firearm by a prohibited person), Section 6106 (possession of a firearm without a license to carry), and Section 6108 (illegal possession of a firearm in Philadelphia—Misdemeanor). This article, however, focuses on Section 6111, the illegal sale or transfer of firearms.
There is a duty upon the seller and buyer of a gun or firearm in Pennsylvania—Title 18 § 6111
It is very important to understand that there is a duty on the seller and buyer to act within the law and under § 6111(a) a seller (not a licensed dealer) is not permitted to sell or deliver a firearm to a purchaser (buyer) until 48 hours has elapsed from the time of the application for the purchase. Following that time, the firearm must be delivered either securely wrapped or in an authorized container and must be unloaded.
For a licensed dealer under § 6111(b), the application of the buyer is still required and the original must be sent to the Pennsylvania State Police within 14 days of the sale. The licensed dealer must also maintain a copy for 20 years and provide a copy to the purchaser (buyer).
Where can a person sell a gun or firearm in Pennsylvania?
Under § 6111(c), any non-licensed dealer or importer is only permitted to sell or transfer a firearm to another unlicensed person within the place of business of a licensed dealer or importer with the only exception being those transfers between spouses, parent to child, or grandparent to grandchild.
Is a Violation of 6111 always a felony offense in Pennsylvania? No!
It’s important to understand that violations of § 6111 can result in either a misdemeanor or felony conviction depending on the buyer and his or her possible criminal history. Under § 6111(g), any person who knowingly or intentionally sells, delivers, or transfers a firearm in violation of this section, commits a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree. If the person is unqualified or ineligible to control, possess, or use a firearm the, the seller commits a felony of the 3rd degree.
For all 2nd or subsequent violations of this section (subsection h), the person commits a felony of the 2nd degree and is subject to a 5 year mandatory minimum state prison sentence.
Notice to seek the mandatory minimum sentence
Keep in mind that if the Commonwealth seeks a mandatory minimum sentence, it must provide the defense with reasonable notice of this intention and the Commonwealth must not only prove its burden of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial but must also prove the applicability of this section by a preponderance of the evidence.
As I have written earlier, the criminal burden of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is much more difficult to prove than a preponderance standard. This means that if a person is convicted at trial, there is a strong possibility that the prosecution can also meet this lesser standard.
Unlike New Jersey (Graves Act), Pennsylvania does not have mandatory minimum sentencing for most of its gun offenses but Section 6111 (also sometimes called the Brad Fox statute) is regularly enforced. For more information on gun crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (Graves Act) I encourage you to keep reading this blog and visit my free download section.