Firearms Offenses in Virginia
Americans have the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment, but that right comes with responsibilities. Virginia has numerous laws for firearm offenses, and all of them are quite serious.
If you’re facing a firearms offense in Virginia, you need the assistance of a lawyer as soon as possible. A firearms charge can move a misdemeanor into a felony, and greatly increase fines and jail time. You could even lose your right to bear arms.
Firearms Possession Charges in Virginia
Depending on the place, the kind of weapon, and your status, you may not be able to possess a firearm legally. For instance, you can’t carry a firearm into a place of worship, courthouse, airport, or a school. You also can’t carry a loaded weapon in public.
People not allowed to carry firearms include minors, felons, those convicted of certain drug offenses, non-citizens, and the mentally incompetent. Giving or selling weapons to these and other prohibited persons is also a crime.
There are also certain kinds of firearms that are illegal to possess, like plastic guns , sawed-off shotguns or rifles, and semi-automatic folding shotguns (“streetsweepers”). Machine guns are also on shaky ground when it comes to firearms offenses in Virginia.
Carrying Concealed Weapons Without a Permit
Even if the weapon is legal, it’s illegal to carry it around concealed without a permit. Even if you have a permit, if you possess a concealed weapon while intoxicated, or even just consuming alcohol in public, you are breaking the law.
A concealed firearm permit is not a license to do anything you want with your firearm in public. The state still wants to keep the number of accidental deaths by firearms as low as possible. Concealed weapons holders have a higher level of responsibility toward others.
Reckless Discharge of a Firearm
Any accidental or intentional shooting or discharging of your firearm can also result in a charge, especially if it’s done in a dangerous manner or in a place where there are a lot of bystanders. For instance, you cannot discharge a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.
Note that even an accidental discharge could land you with charges. Intentionally firing your weapon will make it worse, but it’s up to you to maintain your firearm and its ammunition. If you choose to conceal carry for your protection with a loaded weapon, know your legal risks are much greater.
Also, if you injure or kill someone with your firearm, you’ll open yourself up to personal injury lawsuits that could drain your funds even if you get free from the criminal charges.
Firearms and Minors
Minors are not allowed to have access to firearms without adult supervision. There are thousands of deaths each year in the U.S. from the mixing of children and firearms. The key defense in these cases is proper supervision and the age of the minor.
Other Virginia firearms offenses involving minors include leaving a loaded and unsecured firearm near a child under the age of 14, letting a child under 12 use a firearm without adult supervision, and transporting a firearm by a minor.
Committing Crimes With Firearms
Committing a crime while carrying a firearm will definitely lead to increased police scrutiny and possibly further charges. This can happen even if the weapon was never exposed, used in commission of the crime, or loaded.
There are also specialized charges for certain combinations of crimes, like possessing firearms and illegal drugs at the same time. Note that possession may mean more than carrying it in your hand or on your person. A gun in the car or someplace within easy reach will also count.
Any felony crime done near a firearm will automatically add more charges in the state of Virginia. Thus, you’ll want to be very careful about your behavior if you choose to carry a weapon in your car or on your person.
Protect Your Right to Bear Arms and Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Virginia
If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to bear arms in every state in the country until you can get the crime expunged. This can take years. If you are charged with a weapons crime, you must take immediate action.
The Pendleton Law Team can help you. We have experienced criminal defense attorneys who have helped others with firearms offenses in Virginia. Speak with one of them by calling us or using our contact form. The sooner we can start, the better your chances will be.