A Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act (VUFA) is any firearms crime related to the use, transfer, possession, manufacturing, and sale of firearms. Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes defines each of these crimes under Title 18, Chapter 61, Subchapter A. People charged with a VUFA have the right to a criminal defense attorney and should exercise it when going to court.
In This Article
The Philadelphia gun crimes defense lawyer at Shuttleworth Law starts by explaining some helpful definitions to understand how VUFA charges work. Then, we define the various types of crimes under which you could be charged. Finally, the article concludes with information about how to handle your situation.
Helpful Violation of Uniform Firearms Act Definitions to Understand
The Letter of the Law is an important concept to understand when facing VUFA charges. Definitions, their meaning, and interpretation are already codified into law and will affect your legal rights. In the case of VUFAs, the law is specific on terms such as conviction, firearm, and loaded.
Here is a short overview of each relevant definition used in this article per 18 Pa.C.S. § 6102:
- Conviction: A potential outcome of VUFA charges or any criminal charge. Entered when pleading or being found guilty or nolo contendere
- Firearm: Pistols, shotguns, revolvers, and rifles
- Loaded: Ammunition in the firing chamber, non-detachable magazine, inserted magazine, or cylinders
These definitions could affect the outcome of your case. Other local, Commonwealth, and federal laws could impact them as well. Always get legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer if you need to determine how a definition specifically relates to your VUFA.
Examples of VUFA Laws
Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act is more than 22,000 words long, which is a vast body of law. As such, we have truncated a list of the most common VUFAs, offer a short explanation, and link to the relevant statute for more information.
Here is our example list of VUFA crimes charged in Pennsylvania:
Example 1. Persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105
Describes people who cannot “possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer” firearms. They generally include people with criminal convictions under other statutes and are violent or sexual in nature, although not always.
Examples of convictions that prohibit people from possessing a firearm include:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Reckless use of a firearm
- Aggravated assault
- Sexual assault
- Violations of the Controlled Substances Act
- Witness intimidation
- Other offenses
The law grades this charge as a felony or misdemeanor depending upon the facts. Most cases involve a person with a prior felony that makes them ineligible to possess a firearm, which is graded as a felony of the first degree or a felony of the second degree. That makes this a serious offense with harsh consequences if convicted.
The law also allows for sentencing enhancements, which could increase the penalties you face. Avoid making any statements to police officers, judges, and prosecutors when possible, and speak with a criminal defense attorney to find out what options are available to you.
Related Article: What is a Felony in Pennsylvania?
Example 2. Firearms are not to be carried without a license.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106
This VUFA defines when you can carry a firearm with or without a license. It is a felony if you have committed other criminal violations, and a misdemeanor if youare otherwise eligible to obtain a permit to carry. Essentially, you could face charges if you are carrying around concealed firearms outside of your home or business without a license.
Example 3. Carrying loaded weapons other than firearms.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106.1
This law prevents people from carrying a loaded firearm that does not meet the definition and size of a firearm in the VUFA. It is a summary offense charge if convicted, which is one of the least serious charges but it could still result in a loss of your rights. Ensure you do not accept unnecessary consequences by working with a gun crimes defense attorney.
Example 4. Prohibited conduct during an emergency.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107
The Commonwealth prohibits the carrying of firearms on public streets and property when a local or state government declares the area is under a state of emergency. Exceptions include actively saving another person’s life or property from “peril” or being properly licensed.
Example 5. Carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6108
This law prohibits you from carrying a firearm on public streets or property, specifically in the City of Philadelphia. The only exception is if you have a license to do so. We also wrote a very informative article if charged under this statute here and your need more information about the laws that generally surround your situation.
Example 6. Possession of a firearm by a minor.
Relevant Statute: 18 Pa.C.S. § 6110.1
No minor shall possess or carry a firearm anywhere in the Commonwealth. A minor is an individual under age 18. However, there are exceptions when under direct supervision for hunting and training activities.
Several other types of VUFA charges exist under these laws that we may not have covered in this article. However, this overview of VUFA examples helps you locate relevant statutes, what they mean, and how they could affect your situation.
What to Do If Charged with a Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act
Losing your rights, going to jail, paying thousands in fines, and other penalties can be frightening. However, your VUFA charges are defensible in court.
Keep in mind that prosecutors must prove that police gathered evidence properly, that you possessed the firearm and other elements under each individual statute. Accomplishing this feat is not always as straightforward as they want you to think. Possessory crimes often involve motions to suppress evidence that can get some or all of the evidence in the case thrown out.
That is why you should hire a Philadelphia gun crimes defense lawyer. We will review their evidence, methodologies, and allegations. If we find civil rights violations, procedural errors, and other misdeeds, you can count on your attorney to raise these issues at the right time.
Related Article: A take on Commonwealth v. Arter: The Exclusionary Rule and Motions to Suppress Evidence at Parole and Probation Revocation Hearings
Call Shuttleworth Law for a Free Case Evaluation
You do not have to rescind your gun rights without putting up a fight and clearing your name. Shuttleworth Law can get you no-cost information about your situation.