As a Pennsylvanian resident and a gun owner, you know that practicing gun safety is the key to avoiding injuries, incidents and breaking the law. However, some may argue that accidents can happen regardless of your intentions. What should you know about accidental firearm discharge? Can you still get in trouble for misfires? Is an accidental discharge considered negligence?
FindLaw defines accidental firearm discharge as any incident in which a gun goes off without the wielder intending for this to happen. These incidents occur for numerous reasons. A person may believe that the gun is not loaded. They may point it somewhere that they don't intend to shoot and accidentally graze the trigger. They may simply not understand how the gun functions well enough to handle it safely.
However, even if the discharge is accidental, this is still considered a crime in many states. In some, it is even labeled as a felony. In others, it is a misdemeanor. The harshness of the penalties you could face depend on how much damage was done. For example, an accidental discharge that damaged property will result in a less serious charge than if you accidentally fired your gun and ended up shooting someone else. There are even incidents in which an accidental discharge has killed other people, leading to severe penalties upon conviction.
If you have accidentally discharged a weapon, understand that you may also be facing misdemeanor or felony charges and their corresponding penalties if convicted. Having a solid defense can help you to protect yourself in court.