Building a Defense For Gun Charges in Virginia
In Virginia, if you are accused of an offense involving a firearm you are likely facing serious penalties including fines and jail time. As a result, it is imperative you know what must be proven against you and how a strong defense can be built. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with a Virginia gun lawyer today.
Definition of a Firearm
The definition of firearms in Virginia is actually quite broad and depends specifically on the statute involved. Some statutes, such as the brandishing statute, do not require an actual useable firearm that is capable of firing. A lookalike gun, toy gun, or a piece of a gun which a reasonable person thinks is a gun when pointed at them, may be sufficient for a brandishing conviction.
Other statutes, such as the one prohibiting possession of firearms by convicted felons, require a gun that meets a more conventional definition of a firearm. So there may sometimes be exceptions for antique firearms, for example. Those are collector’s items. There are sometimes different definitions depending on the statute, and it is important to know which definition applies to which case.
Elements That Must Be Proven in a Gun Case
The prosecution must prove all the elements of the specific offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean beyond some doubt or beyond any doubt, including something far-fetched, but it means beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many elements in a gun charge depending on the type of charge, so they need to prove each and every substantive element beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Second Amendment As a Defense
The Second Amendment simply guarantees your rights to lawfully bear arms pursuant to applicable state and local laws that may not infringe upon those rights. The U.S. Supreme Court and state constitutions have decided what those Second Amendment right means under certain circumstances and have put some restrictions on it for public safety.
The restrictions, such as the denial of felons’ rights to possess firearms, are not subject to the Second Amendment guarantees. Convicted felons who claim a right under the Second Amendment to have a gun are not aware that there are certain state laws which have been deemed Constitutionally sound which modify the person’s right under the Second Amendment. Those laws provide an appropriate balance to the unilateral right to own guns by placing restrictions on gun ownership for those with a history of felony criminal convictions.
Hiring A Virginia Gun Lawyer
Gun laws in Virginia are very complex and change on a regular basis. Certainly for just the same reason that it is good to hire a criminal attorney if you are charged with any criminal offense, you want to hire an attorney who regularly deals with gun laws. This is what they do all day, and they are well-versed in the field of criminal defense as far as knowing criminal law and courtroom procedures, which defenses work and which do not, and how to present evidence.
Just as you would hire an attorney for a criminal case, you hire an attorney for gun charges because of their experience and their knowledge of the applicable case law, defenses and procedures. It is not something which you want an attorney who writes wills, trusts, or divorces to handle for you.