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About David S. Nenner – Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer
David Nenner has over 30 years of legal experience handling criminal matters in the Philadelphia area including the suburbs. He focuses on major felony cases including murder, drugs and weapons charges in state and federal court.
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Pennsylvania Criminal Law: Gun & Weapons
- Pennsylvania Criminal Law: Passenger’s Legal Rights During Traffic Stops in Philadelphia (February 26, 2020)What are legal rights of passengers during traffic stops in Pennsylvania? Can an officer order a passenger to exit a car? Can an officer search a passenger’s personal items?
In Pennsylvania, one of the most common gun or firearm charges is VUFA (Violation of the Uniforms Firearms Act). These cases typically involve someone with a felony record who is found in possession of a firearm on their person, their car or their home. In addition, other charges are often filed, such as drug possession or drug dealing charges. The sentences for VUFA convictions, especially for repeat offenders, are particularly serious.
Other Firearm Criminal Cases in PA
Other state offenses for gun or firearm possession include concealed weapon charges (third degree felony) or carrying a defaced gun or firearm with an altered serial number (second degree felony). This article explains these various charges. Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer Discusses Weapons and Gun Charges
Defense to Gun or Weapon Possession Charges
Successfully defending a gun or weapon charge case in Philadelphia requires thorough investigation. Someone charged with possession may have a valid defense that they did not knowingly possess the gun. For instance, someone arrested while driving a friend’s car may have a valid defense that they didn’t know there was a gun in the car. Additionally, there are various constitutional violations that can result in evidence being thrown out of the case. See below.
Search & Seizure – Motions to Suppress Evidence Due to Constitutional Violations by Police
- Traffic Stops – When Can Police Stop a Car in Philadelphia? (May 9, 2019) During traffic stops in Philadelphia, drivers and passengers are often arrested and charged with gun possession offenses. Officers routinely conduct stops and search cars, looking for firearms or other weapons. This article explains the legality of different types of stops.
- Constitutional Rights in Philadelphia Criminal Drug & Gun Cases – The 5th Amendment Many guns and weapons charged are coupled with other crimes such as drug dealing. This article discusses how the 5th Amendment comes into play in gun and drug cases. The 5th Amendment prevents the government from forcing citizens to give a statement or otherwise testify at any proceeding or trial. In general, 5th amendment issues arise after arrest and during investigation. Read more here.
- Vehicle Stop & Seizure in Criminal Drugs/Guns Cases in Pennsylvania In Philadelphia guns/firearm and drug cases, oftentimes the guns and drugs are found in a vehicle stop and search. Individuals have a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. When this right is violated, defendants may file a motion to suppress the gun and drugs found during the stop and seizure. Read more here.
Serious Consequences and Prison
If convicted at trial for gun, weapon and/or other violent crimes, defendants face serious punishments. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court made significant changes to sentencing laws in drug-gun cases. Prior to 2013, a prosecutor in a Philadelphia gun or firearm case involving drugs was only required to provide notice before sentencing that the prosecutor’s office intended to seek the mandatory minimum sentence. Prosecutors only had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant possessed a gun to a judge.
The Supreme Court held that proving the sentencing factor by any standard less than beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge and not a jury was unconstitutional because it violated the defendant’s 6th amendment right to a jury trial.
This changed the lives of many convicted defendants who were serving the mandatory minimum sentence of 5-10 years. Cases were appealed and the defendants were able to be resentenced.
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Last reviewed and updated: August 15, 2020