The identification numbers of a firearm are critical in the tracking and record keeping associated with that firearm. The state of Pennsylvania endeavors to keep a solid record of the firearms owned in the state, accomplished by keeping track of the ID numbers of a given firearm. For this reason, the state criminalizes the manipulation, removal, and alteration of these numbers. The insinuation is that if you alter the ID numbers of a firearm, you have some kind of criminal intent. This is a lofty assumption and certainly not always the case. What exactly constitutes 'alteration' of firearm ID numbers in Pennsylvania? What doesn't constitute alteration? Both the removal of these numbers and the possession of a gun with altered/removed numbers is a crime under state law. A conviction for this offense could lead to hefty fines and considerable jail time.
A firearm with altered identification numbers is theoretically impossible to trace. This inhibits the government in its efforts to meticulously track the ownership and use of firearms, although this tracking is perceived as heavy-handed and "big-brotherish" to many lawful gun owners who simply wish to invoke their second amendment rights without the government breathing down their neck.
Penalties for the Possession of a Firearm with Altered ID Numbers
Those are accused of altering, removing, or otherwise obliterating the ID numbers of a firearm in the state of Pennsylvania face up to 10 years in prison and second-degree felony charges. These penalties sound formidable - especially if you are a Pennsylvanian citizen who has been accused of this crime and is seeking out information to better understand what you have been charged with. Rest assured, an aggressive Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney is ready to step up to the plate and defend you against the charges you face. Defense lawyer Joe Lento will tirelessly explore all legal avenues to find you a way out of these charges. Sound criminal defense tactics can exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution's case against you. There is even a chance that your entire case could be dropped. This outcome hinges on reasonable doubt and the ability of your defense attorney to create it. Alternatively, your attorney could uproot the case by rendering key evidence in the case. Joe Lento will tailor a unique defense to fit the circumstances of your case and handily present it in court on your behalf.
How Does Law Enforcement Determine You Altered the ID Numbers of A Firearm?
It is completely plausible that you could own a firearm with altered numbers and not know that the numbers were altered before the firearm made its way into your possession. In effect, you would be charged and potentially punished for someone else's crime. This is far from justice, and you must enlist a criminal defense attorney to help prove that you are not guilty of the crime you are accused of. All your attorney needs to do is create the impression of a likelihood that you didn't know the numbers were altered in order to potentially clear you in the case. This requires some handy legal maneuvering and is not fodder for the generic public defender. Your interest is best served by a skillful private attorney who can give their undivided attention to your case.
The charges and the fight you must mount against them require you to take time out of your life and invest a great deal of energy. You will have to spend time in court, give your undivided attention to the people who are accusing you of committing a crime, and treat all of them with respect. If all this is required of you, then you are at least owed the best caliber tools to help you address these charges and ultimately put them to bed. This is especially true when you have been charged with an offense like possession of a firearm with altered numbers. The offense is passive, one you may have been "committing" without so much as knowing you were doing it. The sooner you can put the whole ordeal behind you and clear your name, the sooner you can carry on your life.
Exceptions and Defenses to the Possession of A Firearm With Altered ID Numbers
Pennsylvania law states: No person shall possess a firearm which has had the manufacturer's number integral to the frame or receiver altered, changed, removed, or obliterated. However, there is a legal distinction made which exempts antique firearms from this provision. Antique firearms are defined as:
(1) Any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap type of ignition system.
(2) Any firearm manufactured on or before 1898.
(3) Any replica of any firearm if such replica:
(i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional center fire fixed ammunition; or
(ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
Your attorney will investigate the verity of the claim that the numbers truly had been altered or removed at all. Where applicable, they will see if the firearm in question actually qualifies as an antique firearm. The 'probable cause' by which the police found the firearm will perhaps be the aspect most heavily scrutinized by your defense attorney. To begin building a defense to combat this firearm charge, immediately contact Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for help.