Is it a crime to accidentally discharge a firearm?

Pennsylvanian residents, like others across the country, have the right to bear arms. But what are your rights if your firearm is accidentally discharged? What happens if you unintentionally injure someone with a weapon you legally possess?

FindLaw takes a look at accidental discharges of firearms. This is any situation in which a firearm goes off without the user intending for it to do so. Accidental shootings can result in fines, fees, penalties, or even jail time depending on what happens. For example, in Florida, discharging a gun on any property used as a dwelling is a first degree misdemeanor. This can include up to $1,000 in fines and 12 months in jail.

It should be noted that negligence and carelessness are not always considered the same thing. For example, there was a case in 2015 in which a man twirling a gun on his finger accidentally shot and killed a pregnant woman. Charges were not made in this case, as the “carelessness” displayed was not considered to be “gross negligence”.

State laws differ on how to handle accidental discharges. More often, a state will have more severe charges for negligent discharge. This type of discharge is also accidental, but happens because the user or handler of the gun is acting negligently at the time it goes off.

If you have accidentally discharged a firearm and are now facing charges for it, consider contacting an attorney for additional help. Having the guidance can allow you to know what moves to make when moving forward.