Brandishing a Weapon in Virginia
Brandishing is a pretty broad offense, and it can apply to a private interaction context. This means if someone pulled out a weapon or a weapon lookalike and threatened someone in a one-on-one interaction, or if it is a public place when someone waves around a weapon or a weapon lookalike and someone intended to necessarily put another in reasonable fear, then those situations may be brandishing as well. Brandishing is a serious offense. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor and in some cases it may be a felony. Most notable cases in which brandishing becomes a felony are when it occurs within 1000 feet of a school or school property. Speak with a Virginia gun lawyer immediately for assistance in your case.
Brandishing a firearm in the Commonwealth of Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. The specific code that applies to brandishing a firearm is Virginia Code Section 18.2 – 282. This section states that it is unlawful for a person to point or brandish a firearm, or any air-or gas-operated weapon or an object similar in appearance, whether it is capable of firing or not, in a public place or not, in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or to cause harm. As part of this definition it is important to point out that the object you are brandishing or holding does not have to be a firearm.
It is illegal if you point a weapon at someone with intent to create harm or fear of being shot by that weapon, and it is illegal to wave around a firearm and hold a firearm in public to induce fear. Those are really the only two common brandishing scenarios.
Legally Brandishing a Weapon in Virginia
There are two major scenarios that are affirmative defenses to brandishing. The first is if someone is acting in excusable and justifiable self-defense. That does not mean that someone can brandish a firearm just because someone uses offensive language towards them, because that would not be excusable or justifiable.
Self-defense law in Virginia are well-crafted and there is a lot of case law on what self-defense is. The threat that you are prepared for typically has to be likely to happen. You cannot bring a gun to a knife fight. If someone is threatening to use fists and they clearly do not have a weapon, it would not be appropriate to point a gun at them as it is not the same level of threat, depending on the facts and circumstances.
Likewise there is another exception for a law enforcement officer performing their duty in making arrests or otherwise. Since their duty is to protect the public, if they brandish a firearm then it shall be excused from criminal or civil liability in the majority of circumstances.
Penalties for Brandishing a Weapon
Brandishing is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If brandishing occurs within 1000 feet of a school, however, it is a Class 6 felony. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500. In addition, Class 6 felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison, or in the court’s discretion up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.
Consider a Virginia Gun Lawyer For Help in Your Case
Just as in all criminal offenses there are a lot of advantages to hiring an attorney for a brandishing case. The main advantage is that Virginia gun attorneys have seen such cases before. They are certainly aware of the case law and are in a position to find out where defenses may lie within the facts and where those facts apply to the law. Additionally, Virginia gun lawyers will be able to come up with potential creative defenses, depending on the circumstances of the case.