Virginia gun laws protect the rights of residents to bear arms, but at the same time prohibit the discharge, display, or use of guns in certain areas in an unsafe or intentionally harmful way. In Virginia, being convicted of a gun crime can result in the defendant facing serious penalties, and may account for a felony or misdemeanor conviction depending on the nature of the alleged crime.
At Williams Stone, PC, our defense attorneys can review your options concerning any firearm charge. We offer free initial consultations for criminal defense situations and serve the entire region of Northern Virginia.
Commonly Prosecuted Firearm Offenses
The state of Virginia has complex laws regarding the ownership, possession, or carrying of guns. Several restrictions limit the scenarios in which an individual may carry a weapon or firearm. Our attorneys will look at every aspect of your case in building a strong defense and use every possible legal resource to fight for your rights and improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome in court. Here are details regarding a few of the most common gun or firearm charges we defend in VA.
Concealed Weapon Crimes
Individuals who might not have the correct permits for their firearms or weapons or own illegal firearms can be charged with a concealed weapon crime in Virginia. Under state code Section 18.2-308, Virginia prohibits carrying a weapon without a permit, including revolvers, pistols, or any other weapons that involve an explosion of combustible matter for firing a missile or bullet. The concealment of bladed weapons, including machetes, dirks, razors, Bowie knives, and metal knuckles is also prohibited under the state law outlines.
Upon conviction, a first-time offender of such crimes may be entitled to a Class 1 misdemeanor resulting in up to 1 year of jail and a fine of up to $2,500, whereas second-time offenders may face a Class 6 felony involving either a jail sentence of up to one year or up to five years in prison at the court’s discretion, accompanied by a fine of up to $2,500. A Class 5 felony applies to third-time offenders, including up to 10 years imprisonment or a jail sentence of up to 1 year, plus fines of up to $2,500.
However, there are some exceptions to this law for an individual in his own home or place of work, law enforcement officers, people traveling to or from a shooting range, gun repair businesses, those practicing legal hunting, and people with proper permits.
Discharge of a Firearm in Public Spaces
The willful discharging of firearms in public places is prohibited in Virginia, under the state code 18.2-280. A public place may include a street in any city or town, or in a public place of gathering or business. A person is also likely to be found guilty of this firearm offense if they shoot inside or in the direction of an occupied building. The penalty for such an offense depends upon the circumstances involved in the discharge of the weapon and the exact place of firing.
If the discharge or use does not cause any injury to someone, a Class 1 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum jail sentence for 1 year will apply. However, a Class 6 felony includes either up to a 1-year jail sentence or up to five years imprisonment, along with a fine of $2,500 in case the actions lead to another person being injured. If such an offense causes death, involuntary manslaughter is likely to be charged, which is a Class 5 felony. This scenario may lead to the convicted facing up to 10 years imprisonment unless a jury or the court chooses to sentence them to the lesser sentence of up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500.
If the discharging of the firearm is found to include the intention of harming someone, or if the crime takes place on school grounds, or a distance within 1,000 feet of school grounds from public property, a Class 4 felony is the penalty, which includes 2-10 years of imprisonment, along with a maximum fine of $100,000.
In case, the firing causes death, then an individual may face second-degree murder charges. One can face a first-degree murder conviction if the prosecutors prove that the shooting was part of a premeditated and deliberate slaying. In some cases it may lead to one facing capital murder, thereby inducing the chances of a death penalty.
Display/Use of a Firearms in the Commission of a Felony
The use or display of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony crime is very serious in Virginia. The penalty for this crime is what is known as a “distinct felony”, which leads to a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 3 years for a first-time offender, and for subsequent offenders, it is 5-year imprisonment.
Other Illegal Gun-Related Activities
Some other gun-related activities that are prohibited in the state of Virginia include carrying weapons or firearms in an air carrier terminal, wearing body armor at the time of a crime commission, intimidating with a firearm, possessing illegally altered guns, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, and hunting with a firearm in the state of intoxication.
Contact Williams Stone, PC Today
A conviction associated with gun charges in Virginia could lead to very serious penalties under the complex laws and strict criminal codes pertaining to gun crimes in the state. We highly advise you to consult with our attorneys who have experience and expertise in cases associated with gun charges. A skilled gun crime defense lawyer in Virginia can fight to get the charges reduced or eliminate them altogether. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information about how we may be able to help. We work with individuals throughout Northern Virginia & beyond. Call or email the attorneys at Williams Stone, PC today.