The Hive Law

What Happens If You Get Caught With A Ghost Gun? (Prison And Fines)

What Happens If You Get Caught With A Ghost Gun - What Is A Ghost Gun - Are Ghost Guns Illegal - Are Ghost Guns Legal In California Texas - Ghost Gun Kits Legal

What happens if you get caught with a ghost gun?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what is legally considered a ghost gun
  • the charges you’ll get on a federal and state level
  • how much you’ll pay in fines
  • how many years you can spend in prison
  • special situations that land you with enhanced criminal charges

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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Key Points About Getting Caught With A Ghost Gun

  • Ghost guns are built from parts that don’t need to be registered with the government.
  • Some parts are 3D printed or 80% receivers, which the law doesn’t consider firearms.
  • Ghost guns are untraceable due to the lack of a serial number or other identifying markings.
  • People use ghost guns to get around gun laws.
  • Criminals and young people have access to ghost guns.
  • Ghost guns are often sold as fully assembled firearms or as kits.
  • Gun enthusiasts like them because they can customize and build them.
  • Law enforcement is worried because they’re hard to trace and can be hidden.
  • An estimated 1.2 million ghost guns are in circulation.
  • Ghost guns account for an estimated 4-10% of firearms used in crimes (per the ATF).
  • It is estimated that 20% of all firearms used in crimes in California are ghost guns.
  • Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice seized more than 10,000 ghost guns.
  • The number of ghost guns in circulation has grown by more than 500% since 2016.
  • The average ghost gun sells for between $400 and $800.
  • Ghost guns have been used in mass shootings, robberies, and other violent crimes.

What Happens If You Get Caught With A Ghost Gun?

Getting caught with a ghost gun carries serious consequences.

You are not allowed to possess a ghost gun unless you:

  • are a licensed firearm dealer
  • have a valid license to own a gun

Getting caught with a ghost gun means you:

  • get charged with penalties like fines, jail time, and criminal records
  • could get tied to other crimes that were committed with the gun

The police cannot create ballistic reports on ghost guns like normal guns.

This is because ghost guns don’t have:

  • serial numbers
  • identifying markings

But, they can use ballistic technology to link a ghost gun to other crimes.

They can do this by comparing bullet cartridges and firing pins:

  • of the ghost gun
  • found at a crime scene

This can help them prove that the ghost gun got used in gun crimes.

What Is A Ghost Gun?

A ghost gun is a homemade gun.

Ghost guns are:

  • untraceable firearms
  • unserialized guns
  • homemade firearms
  • unregistered firearms and assault weapons

They get put together using parts that are not regulated by the government, like:

  • receivers
  • barrels
  • triggers
  • stocks
  • firing pins
  • magazines
  • bolts
  • hammers

They are often referred to as “80% receivers.”

This is because they are usually only 80% finished when bought.

Ghost guns are controversial because they are not tracked or monitored.

They don’t have serial numbers that the government can track for gun control.

Anyone can buy the parts and put together a firearm without the government knowing.

Ghost guns can get bought online or at gun shows.

The most common kind is an AR-15-style rifle, but there are also:

  • handguns
  • shotguns
  • AK-47s

These guns get assembled with metal components like:

  • receivers
  • barrels
  • triggers
  • stocks

They can get made at home with basic tools, 3D printers, and knowledge of guns.

Ghost guns are a big problem for police officers.

This is because they get used to commit crimes that leave no trace.

Ghost guns account for an estimated 4-10% of firearms used in crimes.

They can also be dangerous because they are often not made with quality workmanship.

Last year, an estimated 1,400 gun owners got killed by homemade guns.

The lack of regulation has led to more of these guns being in circulation.

An estimated 1.2 million ghost guns are in circulation.

Despite the controversy, ghost guns are still popular.

Especially with people who can’t buy guns legally because of their age or criminal record.

Ghost guns show that current gun laws need to get improved to keep us all safe.

Read More: Can I Get In Trouble If My Gun Is Stolen

Overview of Possible Consequences Of Getting Caught With A Ghost Gun

  • Illegal Firearm Possession: you’ll get charged with illegal firearm possession.
  • Fines & Jail Time: you can face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
  • Seizure of Gun: law enforcement could take your homemade gun.
  • Loss of 2nd Amendment Rights: you can lose your Second Amendment rights.
  • Loss of Rights: you can lose other rights (i.e., voting or gun ownership)

Laws Regarding Ghost Guns

Let’s break down the laws for getting caught with ghost guns. 

Federal Laws

Most of these federal laws are found under 18 U.S.C. § 922.

  • have a gun without a valid license.
  • remove or alter a serial number to make it hard to trace.
  • sell or transfer without a valid license.
  • have a gun that metal detectors won’t detect.
  • have a gun without a unique serial number.

The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 says that the following types of firearms are illegal:

  • ones that are not detectable by walk-through metal detectors
  • ones that do not generate an accurate image in an x-ray machine

Let’s say that a ghost gun:

  • does not have certain metal components
  • is made of material that’s undetectable by metal detectors and x-ray machines

In this case, the ghost gun is illegal to possess, manufacture, or transfer.

State Laws On Ghost Guns

General state laws state that you’re breaking the law if you:

Every state will hit you with a felony charge for getting caught with a ghost gun. 

Here are the fines and jail time if you get caught with a ghost gun in each state.

StateMaximum Jail TimeMaximum Fines
Alabama10 YearsNo Fine
Alaska5 Years$50,000
Arizona3 Years$150,000
Arkansas6 Years$10,000
California3 Years$10,000
Colorado6 Years$500,000
Connecticut5 Years$5,000
Delaware10 YearsNo Fine
Florida3 Years$5,000
Georgia5 Years$10,000
Hawaii5 Years$10,000
Idaho5 Years$5,000
Illinois5 Years$25,000
Indiana10 YearsNo Fine
Iowa10 YearsNo Fine
Kansas5 Years$100,000
Kentucky5 Years$10,000
Louisiana10 YearsNo Fine
Maine5 Years$5,000
Maryland10 YearsNo Fine
Massachusetts5 Years$10,000
Michigan5 Years$2,500
Minnesota5 Years$10,000
Mississippi10 YearsNo Fine
Missouri7 Years$5,000
Montana5 Years$50,000
Nebraska5 Years$10,000
Nevada5 Years$10,000
New Hampshire7 YearsNo Fine
New Jersey5 Years$15,000
New Mexico3 Years$5,000
New York4 Years$5,000
North Carolina10 YearsNo Fine
North Dakota5 Years$10,000
Ohio5 Years$10,000
Oklahoma10 YearsNo Fine
Oregon5 Years$125,000
Pennsylvania5 Years$15,000
Rhode Island10 YearsNo Fine
South Carolina5 Years$5,000
South Dakota5 YearsNo Fine
Tennessee6 Years$3,000
Texas10 YearsNo Fine
Utah5 Years$5,000
Vermont5 Years$25,000
Virginia10 YearsNo Fine
Washington5 Years$10,000
West Virginia5 Years$2,500
Wisconsin6 Years$10,000
Wyoming5 Years$10,000

For example, Baltimore, Maryland just passed two bills on ghost gun laws:

It says that individuals who sell or transfer unserialized firearms would be subject to:

  • misdemeanor charges
  • up to five years in prison
  • a $10,000 fine
  • no longer be able to own firearms

Governor Hogan didn’t sign it, stating that “it didn’t do anything to penalize gun violence.”

What’s The Penalty For A Gun Without A Serial Number?

The penalty for getting caught with a gun without a serial number is:

  • felony fine under federal laws
  • a fine of up to $250,000
  • up to 10 years in prison

Are Ghost Guns Illegal In California?

In California, it is now illegal to assemble, own, buy, or sell a ghost gun.

A ghost gun is a homemade firearm that:

  • does not have a serial number
  • is not registered with the Department of Justice.

You must get a serial number from the California Department of Justice.

Anyone purchasing gun components must also pass a background check.

Gov Newsom says these laws help make California safer.

By keeping people from getting guns illegally.

You have to have a manufacturing license to manufacture guns with a 3D printer.

This applies to all people, firms, or corporations.

They have to get their manufacturer’s licenses from the California Department of Justice.

People without a manufacturing license:

  • can only produce three guns per year
  • can only produce guns for personal use
  • cannot use a 3D printer or milling machine to make the guns
  • have to comply with other gun laws

Los Angeles law enforcement officers confiscated 360 ghost guns last year.

Are Ghost Guns Legal In Texas?

In Texas, the gun laws for ghost guns vary.

Generally, it is illegal to own:

  • a ghost gun without a serial number
  • a gun that has been tampered with

Making or assembling a homemade gun without a federal firearm license is also illegal.

Ghost guns made from unfinished frames or receivers may be legally owned in Texas.

But it is important to check the current regulations.

Some states may also allow ghost guns for people with concealed carry licenses.

What would make ghost guns legal or illegal in Texas?

Legal things are:

  • Certain ghost guns are made from unfinished frames or receivers.
  • Individuals with a valid concealed carry license may possess a ghost gun.

Illegal things are:

  • Owning or possessing a firearm with no serial number.
  • Owning firearms that have been tampered with to remove or alter the serial number is illegal.
  • Manufacturing or assembling a homemade gun without a federal firearms license.
  • Possessing a sawed-off shotgun is illegal.

Can You Conceal Carry A Ghost Gun?

No, you cannot conceal carry a ghost gun.

Ghost guns are not considered firearms and, therefore, are not subject to gun laws.

You will get federal and state-level criminal charges for getting caught with one.

Criminal Penalties For Building Your Own Gun

Let’s say that you build and possess your own ghost gun (handmade gun).

You will get charged with BOTH:

  • possession of a ghost gun
  • manufacturing of a ghost gun

These are both felony charges.

You will get two felony charges on your criminal record.

You will NOT have to:

  • serve two prison sentences
  • pay two sets of fines

Generally, the court will impose a single sentence and a single fine.

These will encompass the charges.

Possession of a Ghost Gun

For the possession of a ghost gun, you will get:

  • federal-level felony charges
  • up to $250,000 in fines
  • up to 10 years in prison

Manufacturing a Ghost Gun

For the manufacture of a ghost gun, you will get:

  • federal-level felony charges
  • up to $250,000 in fines
  • up to 10 years in prison

Unique Scenarios For Getting Caught With A Ghost Gun

Getting caught in any of these scenarios will land you with enhanced criminal penalties.

Possessing A Ghost Gun As A Prohibited Person

Examples of a prohibited person are:

  • felons can’t own guns
  • people under the age of 18
  • people found guilty of certain violent misdemeanors
  • people convicted of domestic violence
  • people with certain mental health conditions
  • unlawful drug users
  • non-citizens, including those in the country illegally
  • people who are subject to certain restraining orders

Possessing A Ghost Gun with the Intent to Commit A Crime

Examples of the intent to commit a crime are:

  • planning a robbery in advance and taking steps to carry it out
  • purchasing a gun with the intention of using it for a crime
  • breaking into a building with the intent to commit a crime inside
  • driving a car with the intent to use it in a getaway after committing gun violence

Manufacturing A Ghost Gun For Sale Or Distribution

Examples of manufacturing a ghost gun for sale or distribution are:

  • 3D printing or machining of the gun parts
  • assembly of the gun parts
  • fitting of the gun’s trigger system
  • testing of the gun’s mechanisms
  • packaging the gun for sale
  • applying serial numbers to the gun
  • advertising the gun for sale

Possessing A Ghost Gun In A School Zone

Examples of this are doing any of the following on school grounds:

  • carrying a gun made from parts purchased online
  • hiding a partially assembled gun
  • possessing a gun made from 3D-printed parts
  • carrying a commercially made gun with its serial number removed
  • keeping a gun that uses non-traceable ammunition
  • carrying a gun with a homemade silencer
  • having a gun that has been modified to accept illegal ammunition
  • having a gun that has been modified to increase the rate of fire
  • carrying a gun with a homemade barrel
  • selling a gun that does not have a serial number

Possessing A Ghost Gun With The Intent To Traffic Or Sell

Examples of possessing a ghost gun with the intent to traffic or sell are:

  • advertising ghost guns for sale on the internet
  • selling gun parts to build ghost guns
  • having multiple ghost guns in one’s home
  • transporting ghost guns across state lines
  • offering ghost guns for trade with other individuals
  • assembling and selling ghost guns without a license
  • possessing a ghost gun with the intent to use it in a crime
  • manufacturing ghost guns for use by criminals
  • trading ghost guns for illegal drugs
  • selling ghost guns in a public place

FAQs About Getting Caught With A Ghost Gun

These are the most common questions we get from clients getting caught with ghost guns. 

Is It Illegal To Make Your Own Gun?

Yes, it is illegal to make your own gun without a license.

It’s also illegal to possess a homemade gun in most states.

Can You Take A Ghost Gun To The Range?

No, ghost guns are not legal to take to a gun range.

Ghost guns are not considered legal firearms.

And they are not registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Therefore, it is illegal to take a ghost gun to a gun range.

What To Do If You’ve Been Caught With A Ghost Gun

Getting caught with a ghost gun lands you with serious charges like:

  • a felony
  • up to 10 years in prison
  • up to $250,000 in fines
  • revocation of your right to own a gun

Fill out the form on this page to have an experienced ghost gun attorney fight for you.

We make sure you’re not wrongfully locked away for an ENTIRE decade.

And straddled with a quarter million in fines for your family to be on the hook for.

Get a free consultation with our defense attorneys by filling out the form below.

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