Gun Control Laws in the News: Current Laws in Virginia
In the wake of recent school incidents and mass shootings, many states have enacted new laws on possession of certain types of guns, ammunition, and accessories. Some jurisdictions have even increased the minimum age to legally purchase firearms. However, despite a push for stricter gun laws that gained momentum in late 2017, Virginia has not made significant changes. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on January 15, 2018 that the legislature rejected a measure which would have included stricter background checks and banned firearms at public events. Still, since there may be some confusion about weapons and firearms charges in Virginia, it is worth reviewing the current state of the law.
Crimes Related to Possession
There are several provisions in Virginia’s gun laws that make it a crime to possess a firearm under certain circumstances, including:
● Possession by a person who was adjudicated legally incompetent, acquitted of a crime by claiming insanity, or other grounds for mental incapacity;
● Possession by an individual who is the subject of a protective order;
● Possession by someone who has two or more misdemeanor drug convictions within three years;
● Possession by a convicted felon; and,
● Possession by a person who is not a citizen of the US or is present in the US illegally.
You could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony for violating Virginia’s laws on gun possession, depending on the circumstances and your prior history. Penalties range from a maximum of one year in jail for a misdemeanor and a maximum of five years in prison for a felony, plus fines.
Offenses Based Upon Use of a Firearm
Virginia also designates certain actions as a gun crime, regardless of whether you were legally in possession of a firearm, such as:
● Willfully or maliciously discharging a gun in a building or structure, thereby endangering the lives of others present;
● Intentionally discharging a firearm in a public place;
● Pointing or brandishing a gun or object which appears to be a gun;
● Discharging a firearm in the roadway or across the street;
● Shooting from a vehicle at other people; and,
● Other offenses as described by statute.
Talk to a Virginia Weapons Defense Lawyer Today
Virginia’s gun laws can be complicated and even a minor violation can lead to severe penalties, so you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. At Shannon & Bedois, P.C., our attorneys have the in-depth knowledge necessary to help you fight gun charges, so please call our Chesapeake, VA office at (757) 228-5529 to schedule a consultation. You can also visit our website for more information on our legal services.