The legality of weapons possession in Delaware encompasses a range of factors that include but are not limited to registration, concealment, and other crimes in association with the weapons possession. Statutes for both fire arms and other deadly weapons are similar, and for juveniles, no distinction is made between a gun or another weapon. Charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending upon the specifics of the offense.
Some charges that are associated with weapons possession include:
- The use of a weapon in the commission of a crime, including assault
- The unlicensed possession of a weapon
- The illegal sale or trade of weapons
- Concealment of a weapon without authorization
- A minor in possession of a weapon
- The use or carrying of a stolen firearm
- Altering or defacing a weapon
- Forcibly obtaining a weapon from a law enforcement agent
- Trading in weapons with a person who is prohibited from possessing a weapon
Any and all of these offenses may be punishable by fines and jail time based upon the ruling of the court.
If a person is arrested for any of these infractions, the weapons may be seized regardless of conviction. The only exception to this seizure is if the firearm or weapon is deemed an antique. It is legal to have properly licensed and weapons in the state of Delaware, but without certification, possession is considered unlawful.
Unlicensed Firearm Possession is a Felony
Unlicensed possession is considered to be a felony that can receive up to eight years in jail and fines that range up to $5,000. Even licensed possession can be punishable under special circumstances. This includes if a person has a loaded firearm in a vehicle that is either private or public, or if a person has a firearm in a recreational area or school zone. The charge is the same as for an unlicensed weapon, although fines for a school zone can be higher.
Minors and Hand Guns
Minors are not allowed to have a handgun or deadly weapon, with or without licensing. The only exception to this law is in the case of long guns for the purposes of hunting. Delaware does not have a minimum age for possession of this weapon, but there are statutes that regulate the use to only include supervised and lawful hunting practices. The acceptable age for handgun and weapons purchases is 21, and for ammunition it is 18, although a parent or guardian must be present at the time of purchase. The charge for minor possession is a class D felony which may receive up to eight years of jail time and applicable fines.
If a person is held responsible for selling or giving a weapon to an individual under the age of 16, it is charged as a misdemeanor. However the sale of ammunition is considered a felony, and can result in the suspension or loss of weapons trading license for registered dealers, or applicable penalties if it is an illegal trade.
Illegal Weapon Sales
Illegal sales of any kind and the possession of a deadly weapon by a felon can also be class D felonies. In these cases, prior convictions play large part in what the mandatory minimum sentence can be, although the maximum remains at eight years in jail. The commission of crime with a weapon is a class B felony, and fines will include restitution as well as the penalty for the act. This can be punishable with as much as 25 years in jail and a mandatory two year sentence for the crime. Should death or bodily harm occur as well, then a further charge of manslaughter or homicide will be included and sentences are served concurrently.
Concealed Weapons in Delaware
Concealed weapons are allowed with proper licensing and registration only. This is above and beyond the certification that is required to legally own a deadly weapon or firearm, and even concealing a legally licenses handgun can become a punishable offense. Illegal concealment even of a weapon that is legally licensed for possession is a class D felony.
Certain individuals are entirely prohibited from possessing a weapon, regardless of license. Beyond the consideration of minors, such individuals include:
- People who are on probation or have been previously convicted of a felony
- People who have a fugitive status
- A person who has been committed for mental health concerns
- A person who has been convicted for illegal substance use or possession
- A person who is subject to a restraining order
- A person who has been arrested or convicted for domestic crimes that include violence.
While it is a felony for any of these individuals to own or hold a weapon, it is also illegal to sell or give a weapon to any of these individuals. The law considers background checks to be assumptive of knowledge of prior infractions, and thus a vendor is legally held accountable for having and behaving in accordance with this knowledge. Charges for illegal sales of this type can range between misdemeanors and felonies.
Defacing or altering a firearm is also considered illegal. This can include alteration or removal of serial codes, tampering with mechanical aspects of the handgun, or defacing the weapon in any way, such as sawing down a shotgun. These infractions include not only the actual alteration, but can also encompass sale or trade of any weapon that has been changed. These are all considered class D felonies and can carry as much as eight years in jail.
While the possession of a deadly weapon or firearm can be legal in the state of Delaware, the charges for breaking weapons laws are steep. They will also prohibit an individual from purchasing or owning a weapon in the future, even if it is for recreational hunting purposes.
I serve the Newark, University of Delaware campus, Wilmington, Middletown, Bear, Glasgow, Pike Creek, Hockessin, Claymont, New Castle, Odessa, Townsend, Smyrna, Dover, Milford, Seaford, Georgetown, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach areas.