Everything you need to know about Virginia gun charges
The commonwealth of Virginia takes gun laws very seriously. Penalties for noncompliance with gun laws mean hefty fines and serious jail time. If you’re facing Virginia gun charges, hire a Virginia criminal defense attorney to represent you.
Failure to seek an experienced attorney to build your defense could mean life-altering circumstances if the courts convict you.
Virginia gun laws include 5 major areas:
- Unlawfully discharging a gun
- Reckless weapon handling
- Carrying a gun within a prohibited area
- Concealing a weapon
- Owning a gun even when prohibited
We’ll examine each of these laws to guide you in your gun charges defense strategy.
Unlawfully discharging a gun
Virginia Code Section 18.2-279 outlines the laws surrounding unlawfully discharging a gun. Discharging a gun in a building with people inside in a manner that endangers those people’s lives is unlawful. Additionally, if you maliciously seek to harm those individuals you can be guilty of a Class 4 felony.
If discharging your weapon results in the death of another person, the courts could find you guilty of second-degree murder. Discharging a weapon in a willfully, deliberate or premeditated manner and killing someone is a first-degree murder charge.
School shootings are serious offenses, even if the school is unoccupied at the time of the shooting. The law outlines this saying:
“If any person willfully discharges a firearm within or shoots at any school building whether occupied or not, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony.”
Reckless weapon handling
Even if you never discharge a gun, you could face charges for recklessly handling a firearm. If your handling of a gun puts other people’s health or property in danger, you could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.
Individuals who are hunting during their reckless handling of a firearm can lose their hunting license for up to five years. Failure to comply with this revocation of your license to hunt could result in a class 1 misdemeanor.
Handling a weapon recklessly and harming another individual could increase those charges to a class 6 felony.
Furthermore, if you leave your firearm in an unsecured location and a child gets ahold of it, you could face serious charges in Virginia. Knowingly allowing a child who is younger than 12 to use your firearm without strict supervision could mean up to 12 months in prison. You might also have to pay a fine of up to $2,500. This law for guns and minors applies even if the child does not discharge the weapon or hurt anyone.
Carrying a gun within a prohibited area
No person shall carry any form of a weapon while on school property. This includes guns, knives and even stun guns. Prohibited weapons are also not legal to carry on a school bus or during any extracurricular activities. Public, private and religious schools are all governed by these laws.
Carrying a gun or any form of a weapon while in a prohibited area, such as a school, could result in a class 6 felony charge.
Concealing a weapon
Carrying a concealed weapon is unlawful in Virginia under section 18.2-308. If you’re caught concealing a weapon, you could face a class 1 misdemeanor and up to 12 months in prison. You could also be ordered to pay up to $2,500 in fines.
However, once you’ve already been convicted of a concealed weapon charge, the severity of secondary and tertiary offenses increases. A second charge would mean a class 6 felony and a third charge could be a class 5 felony. Being found guilty of these secondary or tertiary concealed weapon charges could mean spending up to 10 years in prison.
Owning a gun even when prohibited
Any individual who has a history being convicted of a felony is prohibited from owning, carrying or otherwise transporting a firearm or ammunition. Violating this law could leave you with class 6 felony charges and two to five years in prison.
Convicted felons are not able to carry a variety of weapons with them. Be sure to discuss this with your criminal defense attorney before purchasing or carrying a weapon.
Hiring a Virginia criminal defense attorney
Virginia residents who are facing gun or weapon charges should contact a Virginia criminal defense attorney. Gore & Kuperman has extensive experience in the commonwealth and will work to protect your rights and build your defense. Contact us for a full case evaluation and consultation.