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What is Firearms Theft in Pennsylvania?

June 25, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

It was at the end of May when a Pennsylvania man turned himself in for a connection to a burglary that occurred in January of 2019. He is now facing several charges and among them, is possession of a stolen firearm. So, does theft of a firearm differ from other types of theft? Theft of a firearm is very different than other types of theft. Namely, the punishments for this crime are much more severe than regular theft.

Theft of a Firearm vs. Other Types of Theft

Stealing a firearm such as a handgun, rifle, assault rifle, shotgun, carbine, machine gun, or other personal defense weapon is viewed differently in the eyes of the law than other types of theft. While other types of theft, such as retail theft, is charged and punished according to the value of the items stolen, it does not work this way with firearms.

Firearm theft is always charged as a felony in Pennsylvania. As such, if convicted, individuals may face not only a permanent criminal record and fines, but also significant jail time.

In Pennsylvania, a person has committed firearm theft if they steal or unlawfully take a firearm, receive a firearm that was stolen by someone else, or keep or dispose of a firearm that was stolen by someone else. Even keeping a firearm for someone else that you did not know was stolen may be considered theft of a firearm.

Penalties for Theft of a Firearm

According to Pennsylvania Criminal Code, Title 18, Section 3903, theft of a firearm is considered a second-degree felony. This charge will apply even when the firearm was not highly valued. If convicted, those charged face up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.

There are instances in which theft of a firearm is upgraded to a first-degree felony. This is when the firearm allegedly stolen was worth $500,000 or more. These charges are most often laid on those suspected of dealing in firearms, or regularly storing and disposing of them.

Those convicted of a first-degree felony offense of theft of a firearm face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $25,000 fine.

Like any crime, a conviction of any theft will result in a permanent criminal record that could prevent you from obtaining employment and other opportunities. Theft charges however, particularly theft of a firearm, are viewed particularly negatively by potential employers. It’s for this reason anyone facing these charges must speak to a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer today.

Call a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney for Help with Your Charges

If you have been charged with theft of a firearm, or any other theft crime, contact the experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123. These are serious charges that could affect the rest of your future. We know how to fight them and how to build you a solid defense that will give you the best chance of success. Call us today so we can get started on your case.


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