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Philadelphia Shootings

March 25, 2016

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Philadelphia Law Enforcement Increases Focus On Crimes Involving Firearms

A 38 percent decline in the number of shootings reported in Philadelphia in the past 10 years should signal an overall decline in firearm-related crimes, but this does not appear to be the case. Of the homicides committed in the city, 83 percent of them were committed using a firearm.

The guns of choice, based upon figures released by law enforcement from their investigation of 2,629 gun-related deaths, appears to be 9mm handguns implicated in at least 367 deaths. The .40 caliber handgun was used in 179 homicides in city neighborhoods.

The use of guns in North Philadelphia and other communities throughout the city is even greater than the homicide statistics reveal. At least 14,500 people have been victims of gun violence in the city in the past 10 years. When government officials look for ways to reduce the number of people killed or injured by guns, the usual response is to increase law enforcement attention toward weapons offenses.

Weapons laws in Pennsylvania give police and prosecutors a potent arsenal to use in order to get guns, knives and other weapons off the streets. For example, police can charge a person who is in possession of a gun with any of the following criminal charges:

  • Possession of a firearm during commission of a crime: A person caught by the police committing or intending to commit a crime might also be charged with a weapons offense if the person is in possession of a gun.
  • Possession of a firearm by a minor: A minor in possession of a firearm can be charged in a juvenile delinquency proceeding. The adult who knowingly and intentionally furnished the minor with the gun can be charged a felony.
  • State declared emergencies: A person who is licensed to carry a gun might still face prosecution for a weapons offense if there is a state-declared emergency at the time the person is stopped by the police. A defense to this charge is that the individual was defending life or property at the time.

Whenever police focus their attention on one particular type of conduct or a specific criminal offense, there is a likelihood of individuals being charged with crimes they did not commit. Equally as likely is someone facing charges in excess of what should have been charged under the facts of a given situation. If this should happen to you or to a member of your family, you need Philadelphia’s leading criminal defense attorney, van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, standing at your side to defend you.

The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim are proven to be strong legal defense forces, skillfully taking on top state prosecutors and seasoned investigators in weapons cases. Their innovative defense strategies have proven successful in case after case. If you need legal help, contact us for a free initial consultation by calling (215) 486-0123. A bilingual representative is available to take your call 24 hours a day and seven days a week, or you can use the contact form on our website.


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