The Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government have many laws to define who can own, possess, and carry guns. Given this daunting maze of statutes, when charged with any weapons violation, a seasoned Spotsylvania gun lawyer should be immediately consulted. Following are some examples.
Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. It is, however, legal to carry a concealed handgun with the proper permit or to “open carry” in permitted place. Concealed carrying without a permit is a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and a class 6 felony for the second and all subsequent convictions. The punishments are:
Exceptions apply to those who have the firearm in their home, those who are traveling to or from a shooting range or gun repair business or weapons exhibition, and those who are lawfully hunting [Virginia Code Section 18.2-308 (A)].
Nonresidents of Virginia who are at least 21 years old may also carry a concealed handgun so long as they are granted a permit by the Circuit Court of their resident jurisdiction which includes a background check and stringent questionnaire to make sure they are not in the following classes of persons: [Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.06]
Illegal Discharge and Use of Firearms
It is against the law to purposefully discharge a firearm in public, though in this instance, “public” means a “street in any town or city, or in a public place of business or gathering” [Virginia Code Section 18.2-280]. If the discharge does not wound anyone, the suspect may be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, with penalties of a fine up to $2,500 and/or up to a 12 months in jail. However, if someone is wounded, the charge becomes a class 6 felony. And though penalties may be the same as a class 1 misdemeanor (a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine), depending on the discretion of the court, the class 6 felony is also punishable by a term of incarceration in prison of one to five years.
There are more serious firearm discharge offenses. If the suspect discharged a firearm on, or within 1,000 feet of, elementary or secondary school grounds, the charge becomes a Class 4 felony. This involves a potential sentence of two years to ten years in prison with a possible fine of up to $100,000.
If charged with any public firearms possession or discharge violation, a seasoned Spotsylvania gun lawyer’s knowledge of state gun laws and familiarity with the courts and local prosecutors can help you mount a strong legal defense.
Use of a firearm in the commission of a felony: When using a firearm while committing other serious crimes, an additional felony is charged [Virginia Code Section 18.2-53.1]. If the suspect is found guilty of the underlying offense and this offense, this enhances the original penalty by “adding” two separate penalties that are served consecutively.
So if, for example, the suspect is convicted of aggravated sexual battery (which has a maximum penalty of 20 years) and is also convicted of using a firearm when committing that crime, the five-year penalty for using the firearm can be combined with the maximum for the sex crime to mandate a possible prison sentence of 25 years.
Federal Weapons Charges
These may cover a number of different firearms offenses. They can involve possession, unlawful use (in association with other federal crimes), or distribution and illegal sale of firearms and other deadly weapons. When firearms are illegally transported or delivered across state lines, or imported into the U.S., or if illegal firearms, body armor or ammunition are possessed or sold, these are all federal crimes under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 44. Federal firearms laws are very strict and carry very serious penalties that can be more severe than those in the Commonwealth.
All alleged gun crimes, even those resulting in misdemeanors, must be taken very seriously in Virginia. A skilled Spotsylvania gun lawyer with a strong track record of success is your best defense in fighting gun violations and maintaining your freedom.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law