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Arrested for Wrong Answers on a Gun/Firearms Application

Arrested for Wrong Answers on a Gun/Firearms Application

Generally, answering a question wrong on an application does not result in an arrest.  However, if that application is for the purchase a gun or for a Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon, you can be arrested and the charge is a Felony.  An incorrect answer can be a simple mistake like not paying attention to detail, or it can be a misunderstanding of the question.  Regardless, that incorrect answer will get you arrested and prosecuted criminally.  In some cases, a successful defense can be presented.  In other cases, the best that can be hoped for is to minimize the damage.

My client JRP was arrested after submitting an application to purchase a firearm at a charity “Gun Bash” in Allegheny County.  In this particular case, JRP clearly provided a wrong answer to a question on the application regarding previous arrests.  As a result, JRP was charged with 1) Felony Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act (“VUFA”) by knowingly and intentionally making a materially false statement on a gun purchase application form; and 2) Misdemeanor Unsworn Falsification to Authorities.

The defense, in this case, focused on the elements of “knowing and intelligent,” specifically that JRP did not knowingly and intelligently provide false or inaccurate information.  

In addition, after considering other relevant factors such as 1) the type of inaccuracy; 2) the Court to which the case was assigned; and 3) the facts were not disputed, I recommended to Client that we should proceed to a Nonjury trial before a Judge and not a Jury trial.  

It’s a wonderful experience to have things proceed as planned, and in this particular case, they did.  At the close of the evidence, I argued that the incorrect information was the result of the approximately 15 years that had passed since JRP had been convicted of a minor Misdemeanor, and that JRP was not aware that he had been originally charged with a crime that carried a punishment of more than one year.  The Judge agreed with my argument and found my client Not Guilty of the Felony.