Illegal Firearm Modification in Prince William County
Modern firearms are extremely customizable, with thousands of options for grips, trigger groups, custom receivers, aftermarket magazines, and all manner of sights. While Virginia gives a lot of latitude to gun owners to customize their firearms as they like, there are certain modifications that are illegal. Violating the law and altering a gun to an illegal form could lead to fines and jail.
If you are unsure whether an alteration you want to make to your gun or a customized gun you already own is legal, call a lawyer. A seasoned local gun lawyer could explain the parameters and penalties for illegal firearm modification in Prince William County.
Common Illegal Modifications in Prince William County and Penalties
It is never legal in Virginia to remove, deface, alter, or destroy any maker, model, manufacturer, or serial number or marking of identification on any firearm. Removing these identifying marks could make it difficult for law enforcement to account for a gun’s provenance if it was used in a crime. If a gun is used during the commission of a crime and any of these elements are altered, the defendant will face additional charges.
The penalty for altering or removing identifying marks or information on a firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine. This penalty increases to a Class 6 felony punishable by non-mandatory 1 to 5 years imprisonment for a 3rd or subsequent offense.
It is also never legal to have a plastic firearm in Virginia that contains less than 3.7 ounces of electromagnetically detectable metal in the barrel, slide, cylinder, frame, or receiver, which when subjected to inspection by x-ray machines, does not generate an image that accurately depicts its shape. This restriction exists to ensure the safety of people in restricted areas with checkpoints such as courthouses, airports, and sports arenas. Having a plastic firearm is a Class 5 felony punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison, and up to a $2,500 fine.
A common illegal firearm modification in Prince William County is altering a weapon such that it effectively becomes a restricted class of automatic or sawed-off weapon. In Virginia, modified firearms of this sort must be registered within 24 hours of the modification. Failure to meet this deadline could render the modification and possession of the gun illegal.
This includes weapons which have “sawed-off” barrels and any semi-automatic folding stock shotgun of with a spring tension drum magazine capable of holding twelve or more shotgun shells, or any weapon which shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than one shot without manual reloading by a single function of the trigger. The penalty for failing to register a modification that upgrades a firearm into a restricted class of weapon is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine but no jail time.
Exceptions to Illegal Firearms Modifications
There are certain classes of military and law enforcement personnel who are exempted from the firearm possession and modification laws, even while off duty. When in the course of their duty these excepted individuals make an illegal firearms modification, in Prince William County, they may not face criminal charges. This defense only applies to certain members of those communities. If there is any question over the legality of owning a modified weapon, it may be wise to contact an experienced attorney.
An Attorney Could Ensure Your Firearm Customization is Legal
While there are not too many strict rules for firearms in Virginia, there are some limitations to what a person is allowed to do. Certain alterations to guns may qualify as an illegal firearms modification in Prince William County. Before customizing your gun, contact an experienced lawyer to ensure that your gun build is in legal compliance. Call today to schedule a consultation.