Can You Have a Harassment Charge and Still Own a Handgun in the State of Pennsylvania?

By Jane Meggitt
It's unlikely you'll lose your right to possess a handgun in Pennsylvania over a single harassment charge.

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If you've been convicted of harassment in Pennsylvania, you probably won't lose your right to possess a handgun. Both state and federal laws prohibit possession of firearms by felons or those awaiting trial on felony charges. In Pennsylvania, a misdemeanor of the first or second degree can also keep you from possessing a gun. However, harassment isn't a felony or first or second degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.

Harassment in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, harassment is the crime of acting to harass, annoy or alarm another person. It includes striking a person or threatening to do so, following someone in a public place, repeatedly committing acts with no legitimate purpose, subjecting a person to threatening or lewd comments, or making such comments about the person to others. Annoying phone calls and constant calling or other communication at inconvenient times also constitute harassment. Depending on the incident, harassment is either a summary offense or third degree misdemeanor in the Keystone State.

Harassment Penalties

If you plead guilty or are convicted of a summary offense, you may face a fine ranging between $25 and $1,500, and jail time ranging from one to three months. If your harassment charge is considered a third-degree misdemeanor, you may face up to $3,000 in fines and up to six months imprisonment.

Pennsylvania Firearms Prohibition

Pennsylvania law prohibits the possession, use and sale of firearms for people convicted of certain offenses. Besides serious felonies such as rape and murder, those convicted of stalking and anyone who is subject to an active "protection from abuse order," which requires the individual to relinquish firearms for the time the order is in effect, cannot have a handgun. Neither can anyone convicted of intimidating victims or witnesses. These types of offenses can resemble harassment, although they differ in degree and actual charges.

Other Offenses

Committing other offenses in Pennsylvania can prohibit you from owning a handgun. If you're convicted under the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances Act for drug use or possession, you could lose your gun rights. The same holds true if you've been convicted three or more times of driving under the influence during a five-year period. If you have made a false report to law enforcement and the situation involved gun theft, that will also cause the loss of gun rights. A misdemeanor for domestic violence not only means loss of gun rights, but a violation can cost you up to a 10-year sentence in federal prison.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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