The phrase “straw purchase” is commonly used in the criminal justice system to refer to a person who illegally buys a firearm by filling out paperwork and making a purchase on another person’s behalf when that person would likely not pass a background check. A 23-year-old man is currently residing in a Pennsylvania jail cell after being unable to post bail. He was arrested and charged with trafficking guns.
Police believe the man made numerous straw purchases and then trafficked the guns to others who used them to commit violent crimes, including homicide. Investigators say they discovered the firearms in various locations, such as at a DUI checkpoint and at the scene of a shooting. Reportedly, multiple guns were traced to the defendant as having purchased them. Proving that a person purchased a firearm, however, is not the same as proving that he then trafficked a gun to another person for use in a violent crime.
Unlawful sale and transfer of a firearm
The defendant is accused of unlawful purchases and transfers of numerous firearms. Investigators allege that he bought the guns online and picked them up from another person who is federally licensed to sell firearms in Pennsylvania. The pickups reportedly took place in Montgomery County.
When Pennsylvania prosecutors file criminal charges against someone for firearms violations, they must provide evidence in court to convince a judge or jury, not only that the alleged crimes took place but that the defendant is the one who committed them. Someone standing trial for trafficking guns may have multiple criminal defense options at his or her disposal. To determine which strategy is best, a defendant may consult with an experienced criminal law attorney before heading to court.