Many people in Philadelphia can remember having a BB gun or airsoft gun as a child. Target practice with the guns out in the country can be a fun activity. However, shooting the guns around people could result in serious weapons charges, as if it were a gun with actual bullets. They are considered firearms and possession of a firearm by a minor is not taken lightly. What may seem like innocent fun, could result in penalties that follow a minor for a long time.
A teen, just outside of Philadelphia, allegedly shot an airsoft gun at children who were at football practice. Police say that witnesses told them that the teen came out of the woods near the football field, and shot at the field. One child playing football was allegedly hit, but the police say that no one suffered any injuries. Even though there were no injuries, the teen still faces weapons possession and assault charges.
In Philadelphia, gun charges are very serious charges. If one is convicted, the consequences can follow a person for the rest of their life. In addition to lengthy prison sentences, the person could be prohibited from ever possessing a firearm again. Most gun charges are felonies and, if convicted, have mandatory minimum prison sentences. For minors, a conviction on their record will have significant impact on their lives as it would have to be disclosed on school and job applications.
However, there are many defenses to gun charges. In some instances the police may have never had the legal right to take the gun from the individual. If the gun was taken illegally, the gun could not be used as part of the prosecution, and may result in a dismissal of the charges. Each case is different, so each possible defense is based on the specific facts of the case.
For people in Philadelphia facing gun charges, the road is just beginning. The legal process can take a long time to complete, and defendants are always presumed innocent until proven guilty. Lawyers who are experienced with gun charges may be able to help people understand their rights as they go through the legal process.
Source: CBS Philadelphia, “Teen arrested for shooting airsoft gun at youth football practice in Oaklyn,” Oct. 8, 2013