The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to bear arms. However, this right is not absolute, and each state has its own laws regulating who can possess and use firearms. The Commonwealth of Virginia takes gun crime seriously, and those who violate firearm statutes are subject to harsh penalties. Understanding Virginia’s most common gun crimes can help you mount a robust defense if you face charges.
Possession of a Firearm in a Prohibited Location
The Commonwealth bars gun possession in certain locations, including:
- Places of worship – According to Virginia Code 18.2-283, carrying a weapon into a place of worship is a Class 4 misdemeanor with a punishment of up to a $250 fine.
- Courthouses – Virginia Code 18.2-283.1 states that bringing a gun into a courthouse is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a $2,500 fine. You may also have to forfeit the firearm.
- Airports – Under Virginia Code §18.2-287.01, carrying a gun in an airport terminal is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries the same penalties as bringing a gun into a courthouse.
- Schools -Possessing a firearm on the property of a school or on a school bus qualifies as a Class 6 felony, according to Virginia Code 18.2-308.1. It carries a prison sentence of up to five years, as well as a maximum fine of $2,500. The five-year sentence becomes mandatory if you use, brandish, or attempt to use the weapon.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Virginia law makes it illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. These include assault weapons, pistols, and knives. A conviction can result in a 12-month jail sentence and a $2,500 fine for a first offense. For second and third offenses, penalties can be up to five to ten years in prison in addition to the fine.
Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person
Virginia laws prohibit specific individuals from possessing firearms, such as:
- Minors – According to Virginia Code §18.2-308.7, no person under 18 may possess a handgun or assault weapon. A conviction on this Class 1 misdemeanor can result in up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
- Non-citizens –Virginia Code 18.2-308.2:01 makes it a Class 6 felony for non-U.S. citizens to possess a concealed firearm or an assault firearm. A conviction can result in a sentence of up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $2,500, and the forfeiture of the firearm.
- Convicted felons –Virginia Code 18.2-308.2 prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from possessing or transporting firearms. In addition to the same penalties as a non-citizen possessing a firearm, the individual’s criminal history could subject them to a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
Discharging a Firearm in a Public Place
Discharging a firearm in the street, a business, or a public gathering is a Class 1 misdemeanor if nobody was harmed, with a possible 12-month jail sentence and up to a $2,500 fine. This act is a Class 6 felony if the discharge leads to an injury, and a conviction can result in up to five years in prison in addition to the fine.
Contact a Hampton Roads Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing gun crime charges, your freedom is at stake. The Hampton Roads criminal defense lawyers at Shannon & Associates, P.C. have the knowledge and resources to stand up for your liberty. Contact our criminal lawyers in Hampton Roads, VA, at (757) 228-5529 today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.