Unlawful Possession Penalties

The penalties for carrying a firearm without a permit/license varies widely across all the US States. Penalties for felons convicted of illegal possession of a firearm range from misdemeanors to felonies with a mandatory minimum sentence. The penalties for persons with no felony convictions who are convicted of unlicensed carry are generally lower but can still be severe in some states and also range from misdemeanors, felonies, and mandatory imprisonment. Illegal firearm possession laws generally but not always categorize offenders into three classes with penalties increasing depending on the class. The three classes are;

  • Minimum Age

    A person under the minimum age is usually treated more leniantly

  • No Felony Convictions

    A person with no felony convictions will receive a middle range penalty

  • With Felony Convictions

    With felony convictions the penalties get tougher


The following states have a mandatory sentence of imprisonment for unlicensed carrying of a firearm outside a home or business - click this box to see states

Mandatory Prison Sentences

New York - 3.5 years
Massachusetts - 18 months

The following list describes the general criminal penalties for failure to comply with permit requirements. The penalties apply to a person without any felony convictions. This is not a full list and there are many more states with criminal penalties for carrying a gun without a permit.

No Felony Convictions

StateClass of CrimePunishmentStatute
CaliforniaPurchase handgun without safety certificate: misdemeanorpunishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothCal. Penal Code § 31615
ConnecticutPurchase or receive handgun without permit or eligibility certificate: class D felonypunishable by one to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or bothCGS § 29-33
D.C.Possess without registration certificateUp to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothD.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2502.01, 7-2507.06
HawaiiAcquire firearm without a permit: misdemeanorpunishable by up to one year's imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,000, or bothHaw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-2, 134-3, 134-17
Failing to register firearm: petty misdemeanorpunishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both
IllinoisIf person possesses or acquires handgun and the person's Firearm Owner's Identification Card is expired but the person is not otherwise disqualified from renewing it: class A misdemeanorpunishable by less than one year's imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,500, or both430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/2, 65/14
If the person does not possess a valid ID card (other than an expired one as specified above), but is otherwise eligible: first offense is a class A misdemeanor (see above). Subsequent offense is a class 4 felonypunishable by one to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to $25,000, or both
If (1) the person's ID card has been revoked or is subject to revocation, (2) the card is expired and not eligible for renewal, or (3) the person does not possess a valid card and is not otherwise eligible, the penalty is a class 3 felonypunishable by two to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $25,000, or both
IowaAcquire handgun without a permit: aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years imprisonment, a fine of $625 to $6,250, or bothIowa Code § 724.16
MassachusettsPossess without license: first offense:up to two years in prison or jail, a fine of up to $500, or bothMass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 140, § 129C; ch. 269, § 10
Subsequent offense:up to two years imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both
Possess without license outside of home or place of businessfrom 2.5 to five years imprisonment, or 18 months to 2.5 years in jail; with a mandatory minimum of 18 months
MichiganObtain without permit: misdemeanorpunishable by up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $100, or bothMich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 28.422, 750.232a
MinnesotaAcquire without permit: gross misdemeanorpunishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, or bothMinn. Stat. § 624.7132
NebraskaPurchase without certificate: class I misdemeanorpunishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothNeb. Rev. St. §§ 69-2403, 69-2408
New JerseyPossess without permit: 3rd degree crimepunishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both (can be 2nd degree crime if gun meets certain specifications)N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2C:39-5, 2C:58-4
New YorkPossess without permit: class A misdemeanorpunishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothN.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.01, 265.03, 265.20
Possess loaded firearm without permit, outside of person's home or place of business: class C felony, classified as violent felony offensepunishable by up to 15 years imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years
North CarolinaPurchase or receive without permit: Class 2 misdemeanorpunishable by up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothN.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-402
Rhode IslandPurchase without safety certificateUp to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or bothR.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-26, 11-47-35


  1. I’m in California and I was looking under this website to find how to begin with the original gun application, then the next stage and the so on process from there.

  2. I live in virginia and i owned a pistol bought it registered it in my name and all that but i traveled to Chicago and got out my car and walked down the road and a cop rolled up and started questioning me and yes i told him i have a gun it was concealed and i dont have conceal permit but my record is clean they are trying to charge me with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon without a foid and misdemeanor ammo in my pocket to but my record is clean what do u think will happen to me they also lost body cams for arrest

  3. My boyfriend was driving through OH from WY to PA. He was moving to PA with me. He was pulled over for following too close, which is incorrect, and after being followed. He had to get out of the truck to get into the back for registration. The officer seen a butt of a 22 long rifle and arrested him for concealed carry, and he had bullets in the tube not barrel. The are wanting him to take felony charges. If he’s passing through he can’t get a concealed carry permit. WY doesn’t have them or atleast didn’t when he moved. How can this be legal? Where’s his 2nd amendment right? How can this be fought?

    1. there is a federal law that allows safe passage between states with a firearm. But you have to follow it exactly and meet its requirements. There is a more detailed explanation on this website.

  4. What is the most likely outcome if a person convicted of possession of controlled substance , which makes him a felon is charge with unlawful possession a firearm class d felony first offense in missouri

  5. What if you got unlawful possession of a firearm because you get possession of a controlled substance that a class d felony in and it’s your first time in Missouri .still no letter for say when my court date is

  6. What about unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a weapon in Tennessee, first offense if convicted?

  7. Upstate NY CCW holder for many years and have family in long Island Counties,is there a legal way to transport in my vehicle through Bronx and Queen’s ?

  8. Why haven’t Florida been added to this list??i live in Florida and need to update my knowledge of Florida laws in many different law aspects

  9. I am a non violent felon who lives in Mid Missouri, I know that the latest attempt to allow felons to receive there gun rights back was axed. I feel I was lumped into a group that obviously doesn’t deserve to have those rights back. I know once a felon always a felon right, well have you ever drank and drove? That’s mine, all I am saying is I, I served my time successfully completed any and all sentencing, I should have my rights restored. It is my constitutional right is it not, The Federal and state Regulation conflict with each other, what do I need to do to be a legal gun holder? I would like to hunt and legally protect my home. Thanks for any help

    1. Make sure you get a brain. In the next life. In this life, you’re hosed

      1. Quick draw Mcfool I don’t Know where you’re from from but in this country people with non-violent felonies should be able to protect protect themselves and their home if you can help someone or say something positive abiding by the Constitution of the United States of America if you have nothing positive to add keep your f****** mouth shut

    2. Move to Yemen. I hear they all carry over there.

    3. From my understanding. Felons lose all there rights. As far as protecting your home do what you could afford.

    4. Yes it’s your second amendment right. I would speak to an attorney.

  10. I will have a Non-Res. VA. CCW & a Res. NV. CCW, Where am I not covered?

  11. Wow, lots of infringement going on in those states. I wonder if they understand what “shall not be infringed “ means? Nah… of course they don’t

  12. I live in AZ and I can go to a gun store or on line an buy a gun with out any kind of permit other then a background ck. I can open carry or conceal carry without a permit

    1. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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