According to the FBI’s latest crime statistics, there was a 3.9% increase in the estimated number of violent crimes that took place in 2015. And, increasingly, these violent crimes involve the use of firearms, which were used in 71.5% of murders, 40.8% of robberies, and 24% of aggravated assaults nationwide. As a result, prosecutors are increasingly “throwing the book” at suspects charged with gun crimes.
While Indiana has some of the less restrictive gun laws in the nation, there are still serious penalties for those who are charged with and found guilty of illegal possession of firearms. In addition, some weapons are illegal to possess under any circumstances. We’ve outlined a brief guide to Indiana weapons laws below.
Purchasing and Possessing a Firearm
For the most part, Federal Law controls the sale and distribution of firearms, subject to some local restrictions. In the state of Indiana, it’s generally legal to purchase a firearm if you’re over the age of 18, are mentally proficient, are not a convicted felon (or have a felony pending), not known to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and are otherwise Brady compliant. And in fact, no mandatory background check is required if you purchase a firearm from a gun show or through the internet. If you want to buy and sell guns on a regular basis you must be properly licensed by the State of Indiana as a Firearms Dealer, and you will have to follow certain federal gun protocols as well.
In order to carry a handgun either on your person or in your vehicle, you must maintain a valid license that has been either issued by the Indiana State Police or by a reciprocal state administration. This handgun permit allows for both concealed and open carry of a handgun. It’s also important to note that while firearm possession laws are less restrictive here than in many states, it’s illegal to carry any kind of concealed weapon on school property, on a school bus, on a commercial airplane, on a riverboat gambling cruise, at the state fair, and in government and courthouse buildings. Private business owners may also forbid firearms on their properties.
Illegal Possession of a Firearm
Various Indiana and Federal gun laws regulate and criminalize the possession of certain types of firearms such as machine guns. You can also be charged for possession of a gun that has an altered serial number or making improper modifications to a gun.
Other Types of Gun-Related Offenses & Enhancements under Indiana Law
In Indiana, you can be charged with a Level 6 felony if you point a loaded gun at someone, and face the prospect of a Level 5 felony if you are alleged to shoot a firearm into an area that people are likely to gather. Criminal charges such as intimidation, burglary, and robbery can be enhanced to higher level felonies if a gun is involved in the commission of the crime. Moreover, the prosecutor can also file an additional criminal charge under Indian Code 35-50-2-11 and 35-50-2-13 if a firearm is used in the commission of drug offenses or certain violent crimes that can increase the possible penalty by as much as two decades in prison.
It is an A misdemeanor if you carry a handgun without a license in violation of Indiana Code 35-47-2-1. The charge can be increased to a level 5 felony if the violation occurred in close proximity to a school or on a school bus; you can also be subject to a level 5 felony if you have a prior conviction for carrying a handgun without a license or any type of felony conviction within the past 15 years.
If you qualify as a serious violent felon, you are not legally allowed to possess any type of firearm. Possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon is a Level 4 felony punishable by between 2 and 12 years in prison.
What To Do If You’re Charged With Illegal Possession of Firearms
If you’re charged with illegal possession of a firearm, you’ll need experienced legal representation to fight on your behalf. Specifically, you’ll want to find criminal defense attorneys who work with clients charged with gun crimes.
These charges can be quite serious, and we understand the challenges you’ll face in an Indiana court of law. For more information on how we can help or to schedule a consultation with our criminal defense law firm, contact Hayes Ruemmele Law today.