Virginia Firearms Offenses
Penalty Table

Description of OffenseCode SectionCriminal ClassificationMaximum ImprisonmentMaximum Fine
Brandishing firearmVa. Code 18.2-282Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Brandishing near SchoolVa. Code 18.2-282Class 6 Felony5 Years$2,500.00 Fine
Reckless handling of firearmVa. Code 18.2-56.1Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Reckless handling, permanent injuryVa. Code 18.2-56.1Class 6 Felony5 years$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying Concealed handgun while intoxicatedVa. Code 18.2-308.012Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Hunting while intoxicatedVa. Code 18.2-285Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying weapon in airportVa. Code 18.2-287.01Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Discharging firearm in publicVa. Code 18.2-280Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Discharging firearm in public causing injuryVa. Code 18.2-280Class 6 Felony5 Years$2,500.00 Fine
Discharging firearm near schoolVa. Code 18.2-280Class 4 Felony10 Years$100,000.00 Fine
Possessing firearm with Drugs Schedule I or IIVa. Code 18.2-308.4Class 6 Felony5 Years$2,500.00 Fine
Possession of handgun underageVa. Code 18.2-308.7Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying weapon in courthouseVa. Code 18.2-283.1Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying concealed weapon, 1st OffenseVa. Code 18.2-308Class 1 Misdemeanor12 Months$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying concealed weapon, 2nd OffenseVa. Code 18.2-308Class 6 Felony5 Years$2,500.00 Fine
Carrying concealed weapon, 3rd OffenseVa. Code 18.2-308Class 5 Felony10 Years$2,500.00 Fine
Setting spring gunVa. Code 18.2-281Class 6 Felony5 Years$2,500.00 Fine

In addition to standard criminal penalties, upon conviction of a hunting, fishing, or trapping offense, a judge may also prohibit the accused from hunting, fishing, or trapping for a period of one to five years.


The description of Virginia law below is for informational purposes only
and should not be misconstrued as personalized legal advice. 


Brandishing a Firearm Prohibited

Virginia law prohibits the brandishing of a firearm under Va Law 18.2-282. Brandishing is a type of assault by showing of a firearm. The government will have to prove that the accused (1) pointed or brandished a firearm, and (2) in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of the alleged victim.

A defense to brandishing is exercising justifiable self-defense. (You need to review our explanation of Virginia’s self-defense law in order to understand this defense.)

“An assault is any attempt or offer with force or violence to do a corporeal hurt to another, whether from malice or wantonness, as by striking at him in a threatening or insulting manner, or with such other circumstances as denote at the time an intention, coupled with a present ability, of actual violence against his person, as by pointing a weapon at him when he is within reach of it.”

A Virginia court has ruled that a deadly weapon may not be brandished solely in defense of personal property.

Brandishing a firearm near a school is elevated to a class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

§ 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty.

It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Brandishing Felony Penalty Enhancement for “Paramilitary Activity”

Under Virginia law, when a person commits brandishing as defined by Va Code 18.2-282, while at the time assembled with one or more persons for the purpose of and with the intent to intimidate any person or group of persons, the penalty for the brandishing act is escalated to a class 5 felony. This felony offense carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. See Va Law 18.2-433.2.


Reckless Handling of a Firearm

Virginia law makes reckless handling of firearms a class 1 misdemeanor. The reckless handling must endanger person or property in order to qualify as a crime. This law is violated by any form of reckless handling which endangers a person or property. If the violation is committed while hunting or trapping, the civil penalty of license revocation may also be imposed. Recklessly allowing access to firearms to children is punished as a class 3 misdemeanor.


Permit Required for Concealed Carry in Virginia

Virginia law permits carrying of concealed weapons with a properly issued government permit. Without a permit, it’s a crime under Va. Code 18.2-308. The first such offense is a misdemeanor, while any subsequent offense is a felony. The weapons covered by the law are handguns, switchblade knives and some fixed blade knives, razors, slingshots, brass knuckles, spring sticks, throwing stars, ballistic knives, machetes, blackjacks, and nunchucks or fighting chains.


Click to review Virginia's new gun control laws

Prohibited Concealed Carry Conduct and Where Unlawful to Carry

Any person permitted to carry a concealed handgun who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while carrying such handgun in a public place can be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under Va. Code 18.2-308.012. Hunting while intoxicated is a class 1 misdemeanor under Va. Code 18.2-285. A class 1 misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine.

A person who consumes alcoholic beverages in a restaurant or club while concealed carrying a handgun, can be found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Law-enforcement officers are exempt from this law.

Other concealed carry prohibitions:

Va Code 18.2-308.01: Private property when prohibited by the owner of the property, or where posted as prohibited.

Va Code 18.2-283: To a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place, without good and sufficient reason.

Va Code 18.2-283.1: Courthouse.

Va Code 18.2-308.1: School property. Exemptions to this statute include a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.

Va Code 18.2-287.01: Carrying weapon in air carrier airport terminal.


LIST OF VIRGINIA WEAPONS OFFENSES:

  • Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting – Va. Code 18.2-56.1
  • Carrying loaded firearms in public areas prohibited – Va. Code 18.2-287.4
  • Discharging firearms or missiles within or at building or dwelling house – Va. Code 18.2-279
  • Possession or transportation of certain firearms by persons under the age of 18 – Va. Code 18.2-308.7
  • Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas-operated weapon or objects – Va. Code 18.2-282
  • Personal protection; carrying concealed weapons without a Permit – Va. Code 18.2-308
  • Receipt of / receiving stolen firearm – Va. Code 18.2-108.1
  • Shooting at or throwing missiles, etc., at a train, car, vessel, etc. – Va. Code 18.2-154
  • Allowing access to firearms by children – Va. Code 18.2-56.2
  • Willfully discharging firearms in public places – Va. Code 18.2-280
  • Setting a spring gun or other deadly weapon – Va. Code 18.2-281
  • Selling or giving toy firearms – Va. Code 18.2-284
  • Hunting with firearms while under influence of an intoxicant or narcotic drug – Va. Code 18.2-285
  • Shooting in or across a road or in street – Va. Code 18.2-286
  • Shooting from vehicles so as to endanger persons; penalty – Va. Code 18.2-286.1
  • Carrying weapon in an air carrier airport terminal – Va. Code 18.2-287.01
  • Possession of firearm, stun weapon, or another weapon on school property – Va. Code 18.2-308.1
  • Use or display of a firearm in committing a felony – Va. Code 18.2-53.1
  • Wearing of body armor while committing a crime – Va. Code 18.2-287.2
  • Purchase or transportation of a firearm by persons subject to protective orders or convicted of drug offenses – Va. Code 18.2-308.1:4, 18.2-308.1:5
  • Possession or transportation of firearms, stun weapons, explosives or concealed weapons by persons convicted of a felony – “felon in possession” – Va. Code 18.2-308.2
  • Possession of firearms while in possession of certain controlled substances/drugs – Va. Code 18.2-308.4
  • Manufacture, import, sale, transfer or possession of plastic firearm – Va. Code 18.2-308.5
  • Possession of unregistered firearm mufflers or silencers – Va. Code 18.2-308.6
  • Removing, altering, etc., serial number or other identification on firearm – Va. Code 18.2-311
  • Possession or use of “sawed-off” shotgun or rifle – Va. Code 18.2-300
  • Third conviction of firearm offenses – Va. Code 18.2-311.2

Carrying a Firearm in DCA Airport in Virginia – Charge Dismissed

Arlington, Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Case Result: A misdemeanor charge of Carrying a Firearm into an Airport Terminal in DCA, charged under Va Code § 18.2-287.01 in Arlington, Virginia, resulted in the dismissal of the charge pre-trial. Read more about Virginia’s Airport Firearm Law here: Carrying a Firearm in an [...]

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Brandishing Firearm Charge DISMISSED in Arlington Virginia

Arlington, VA Criminal Defense Attorney Case Result: Class 1 Misdemeanor charge for Brandishing a Firearm during an argument, under Va Law 18.2-282, has been DISMISSED after an agreement to destroy the firearm used during the altercation and showing 12 months of a clean record. Read more about Virginia firearm laws [...]

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Federal Felony Charge 18 USC 922(g)(1) – Felon in Possession of a Firearm: Loss of Firearm Possession Rights After Felony Conviction

A federal felony conviction results in the permanent loss of firearm possession rights. Federal law does not distinguish between violent and nonviolent felony offenses. Thus, a federal conviction for any felony offense results in the permanent loss of firearm rights. Under federal law, the crime of Felon in Possession of [...]

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Brandishing a Firearm: Virginia Law 18.2-282 Penalties and Defenses

Virginia Law Explained: Brandishing Firearm, Va Law 18.2-282 Under Virginia law 18.2-282, it is a class 1 misdemeanor criminal offense to point, hold or brandish a firearm in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another. The maximum penalty for brandishing a firearm in Virginia is 12 months [...]

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Assault with Firearm Charge DISMISSED After Conviction Overturned on Appeal in Fairfax County Circuit Court

Fairfax, Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Case Result: Client was initially found guilty of Assault with a firearm in the Fairfax County General District Court and sentenced to 5 days in jail. On appeal to Circuit Court, the case was Dismissed after Defense filed 3 motions to dismiss. Client walked out [...]

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Virginia Concealed Carry Permit Restrictions for Criminal Convictions or Pending Criminal Charges

Virginia Concealed Carry Permit Restrictions Virginia concealed carry law precludes the grant of concealed carry permits to individuals who have been found guilty / convicted of certain criminal offenses and even with those who have certain pending (not yet finalized) criminal charges. Under VA law, the following persons are disqualified [...]

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Virginia Firearm & Weapon Charges and Hunting Laws: Defense Lawyer’s Explanation of Brandishing, Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and Hunting Offenses

Virginia Firearms Offenses Penalty Table Description of Offense Code Section Criminal Classification Maximum Imprisonment Maximum Fine Brandishing firearm Va. Code 18.2-282 Class 1 Misdemeanor 12 Months $2,500.00 Fine Brandishing near School Va. Code 18.2-282 Class 6 Felony 5 Years $2,500.00 Fine Reckless handling of firearm Va. Code 18.2-56.1 Class 1 [...]

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Reckless Handling of Firearm Charge DROPPED

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT Class 1 Misdemeanor charge for Reckless Handling of a Firearm in Alexandria, Virginia resulted in DROPPED charges. Read more about Virginia firearm laws here: Virginia Firearm & Weapon Charges and Hunting Laws: Defense Lawyer’s Explanation of Brandishing, Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and [...]

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Possession of Firearm While Under the Influence of Alcohol and Driving

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA Criminal Defense Attorney Case Result: A Class 1 misdemeanor charge for Carrying Firearm While Intoxicated (Va Law 18.2-308.012) was avoided with plea to related driving under the influence charge and minimum penalties under the law for the offense. Client was able to keep his concealed carry permit.  Alexandria [...]

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Virginia Assault with Firearm Charges DROPPED For Insufficient Evidence

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT Misdemeanor charge for Assault and Battery On a Family or Household Member with a loaded firearm was DROPPED for insufficient evidence to prosecute. Read more about Fairfax criminal defense attorney Marina Medvin, who represented this client and achieved this result. Read more about Assault [...]

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Carrying Concealed Handgun While Intoxicated in Virginia, Class 1 Misdemeanor Va Code 18.2-308.012

CARRYING A CONCEALED HANDGUN WHILE INTOXICATED Virginia law criminalizes the carrying of a legally concealed handgun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs under Va Law 18.2-308.012. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense punished by up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, and revocation of a [...]

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Federal Misdemeanor Charge for Unlawful Carry of Concealed Firearm REDUCED to Citation & Fine

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA FEDERAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA: Federal Class A misdemeanor charge on the GW Parkway for unlawful carry of a concealed firearm and large quantity of additional ammunition (Va Code 18.2-308 incorporated into Federal law by 18 USC [...]

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Murder 1 REDUCED to Murder 2. Jury Trial resulted in 11 Year Jail sentence for Woman who called Police and said “I shot my husband.”

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: VA Code 18.2-32 Murder 1 indictment (penalty of 20 to life) for woman who called the Police and said that she shot and killed her husband was REDUCED to Murder 2 (penalty of 5 to 40 years) after defense attorney’s motions to suppress [...]

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Misdemeanor Brandishing Firearm Charge in Arlington VA to be DISMISSED

ARLINGTON VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: Misdemeanor Brandishing Firearm charges resulted in reduction of the charge to Simple Assault and agreed-upon DISMISSAL of the reduced charge after good behavior. Va Law § 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty. [...]

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NOT GUILTY of Brandishing Firearm in Virginia in Self Defense

FAIRFAX VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: Client was acquitted at trial and found NOT GUILTY of Brandishing a Firearm, the defense prevailing on theory of self defense. Va Law § 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty. A. It [...]

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Carrying Concealed Weapon into Airport in Arlington VA

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT IN ARLINGTON VIRGINIA: Not Guilty plea to a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge for Carrying a Weapon into the DCA Ronald Reagan Airport under VA Code 18.2-287.01 (a concealed carry permit firearm that was forgotten in luggage) resulted in a fine and surrender of weapon, no [...]

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Arlington VA Carrying Concealed Weapon While Intoxicated and Drunk in Public Both Charges DROPPED For Insufficient Evidence

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT IN ARLINGTON VIRGINIA: Class 1 Misdemeanor charge for Carrying a Concealed Weapon While Intoxicated under VA Code 18.2-308, and a related Drunk in Public Charge (Va Law 18.2-388, Arlington Code 17-7) were both DROPPED for insufficient evidence. Arlington General District Court, 1425 N Courthouse, Arlington, [...]

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Fairfax VA Larceny Charge for Theft of Weapon DROPPED at First Hearing

FAIRFAX VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: Misdemeanor Petit Larceny charge (VA Code 18.2-96), for larceny of a weapon at the Dulles Expo Center Gun Show in Chantilly Virginia, was DROPPED at the first hearing for insufficient evidence. Fairfax County General District Court: 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. [...]

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Possession of Weapon Charge DISMISSED in Alexandria Virginia Federal United States District Court

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT IN THE ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA FEDERAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA: Misdemeanor Charge under 32 CFR 234.10 for Possession of a Weapon (Pistol / Firearm) on the Pentagon Reservation was DISMISSED at the first hearing. Courthouse: United States District Court Eastern [...]

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Arlington Virginia Possession of Concealed Weapon Charge DROPPED & Larceny charge will be DISMISSED

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT IN ARLINGTON VIRGINIA: Class 1 Misdemeanor Carrying a Concealed Weapon – Brass Knuckles (VA Code 18.2-308 – “metal knucks”) was DROPPED at the first appearance. A related Larceny charge was AMENDED to Unlawful Entry, and the amended misdemeanor charge will be DISMISSED after a class [...]

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Brandishing a Firearm in Alexandria Virginia During Argument REDUCED to Trespass

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: Misdemeanor charge for Brandishing a firearm, a concealed carry handgun, during an argument (VA code 18.2-282) was AMENDED and REDUCED to Trespass, with a penalty of credit for time served on the original arrest and relinquishing the weapon to the government. Concealed carry [...]

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NOT GUILTY of Impersonating Police Officer, No Jail Time for Brandishing Firearm in Alexandria Virginia

ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY CASE RESULT: Trial for Impersonating Law Enforcement Officer, Brandishing a Firearm (VA Code 18.2-282), and Driving on a Suspended License, resulted in a NOT GUILTY finding for the Impersonating Law Enforcement charge and the Driving on Suspended charge, and no active jail time for the [...]

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Concealed Weapon Charge in Arlington VA AMENDED to Disorderly Conduct, Public Intoxication DROPPED

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: Class 1 misdemeanor charge for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit under VA Code 18.2-308 was AMENDED to a disorderly conduct charge with no active jail time, a fine, and weapon surrender. Client remains eligible to obtain concealed carry permit. Related Public Intoxication charge was DROPPED. Read [...]

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Reckless Handling of a Firearm DISMISSED

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: Class 1 misdemeanor offense of Reckless Handling of a Firearm under VA Code 18.2-56.1 for an accidental discharge in an apartment building was DISMISSED.

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Pointing & Brandishing Firearm in Road-rage Results in NO JAIL Time in Fairfax Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA: Class 1 Misdemeanor charge for Brandishing a Firearm (VA Code 18.2-282) for pointing a handgun at another driver during a road rage incident resulted in no active jail time, no surrender of concealed carry permit, no surrender of weapon, and no fines! Read more about Weapons Law [...]

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Carrying Weapon in Airport Misdemeanor Trial Results in NO JAIL in Arlington Virginia

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: Trial for a class 1 misdemeanor offense of carrying a weapon in air carrier airport terminal under VA Code 18.2-287.01, in which our client was accused of bringing a loaded handgun into the DCA airport, resulted in no active jail time, a $250 fine and surrender of the [...]

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Possession of Marijuana DROPPED & Concealed Weapon Charge Results in NO JAIL Time in Fairfax VA

ATTORNEY CASE RESULT IN FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA: Client was charged with Class 1 Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Second+ Offense (VA Code 18.2-250.1) and Class 1 Misdemeanor Carrying a Concealed Weapon – Brass Knuckles (VA Code 18.2-308 – “metal knucks”). The Possession charge was DROPPED, which means the client did not [...]

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Possession Charge for 8 Containers of Marijuana with Handgun will be DISMISSED in Fairfax VA

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA: VA Code 18.2-250.1 was charged for possession of drug paraphernalia, 8 film containers of marijuana, and possession of a handgun in the same bag. Possession charge will be DISMISSED in 6 months. Additional felony charges for firearm possession (18.2-308.4) and PWID Possession with Intent to Distribute (18.2-248, [...]

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Arlington Virginia Reckless Handling / Discharge of a Firearm Charge will be DISMISSED

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: Class 1 misdemeanor offense of Reckless Handling of a Firearm under VA Code 18.2-56.1 will be DISMISSED conditioned on completing a gun safety course at the NRA and surrender of concealed carry permit for one year.

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Virginia Hunting Misdemeanor Charge REDUCED / Client Keeps Weapons & License

VIRGINIA: A class 2 hunting misdemeanor offense was REDUCED to a non-jailable class 4 offense with only a $100 fine. Client’s weapons were returned to him and he was able to keep his hunting license. Read more about Weapons Law here: Virginia Firearm & Weapon Charges and Hunting Laws: Defense [...]

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Definition of Firearm Under Virginia Law

Virginia law defines a firearm as an instrument which was designed, made and intended to expel a projectile by means of an explosion. It does not need to be “operable,” “capable” of being fired, or had the “actual capacity to do serious harm.”

A deadly weapon is an instrument likely to produce death or great bodily harm from the way in which it was used – classic examples include a gun or a knife. A firearm is a deadly weapon without proof that it was operable or loaded. Anything can become a deadly weapon if it is employed in a particularly vicious and cruel way. Even a stationary object can be a deadly weapon if the victim is impelled into or against it.

Each shot fired or each discharge of a firearm creates a separate violation under Virginia law. Thus, firing two shots would be two counts of unlawful discharge. Additionally, shooting from a vehicle and shooting at a vehicle are each a separate offense as well – so firing two shots from one vehicle at another vehicle constitutes four statutory violations. Take a look at the code sections posted below for the many different ways you can violate Virginia law.

Required background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia

A person who sells a firearm to another person in Virginia without obtaining the required background check can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. And, a purchaser who receives a firearm from another person without obtaining the required background check can also be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Under Virginia law, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punished by up to one year in jail and a $2500.00 fine.

One-handgun-a-month Law

The limitation on handgun purchases prohibits any person, unless he/she is a licensed firearms dealer, from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period. Violation of this rule is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense punished by up to 1 year in jail and a $2500.00 fine.

Excluded from the 30-day limitation: (i) persons who have been issued a certificate by the Department of State Police under certain circumstances and with an enhanced background check, (ii) law-enforcement agencies and officers, (iii) state and local correctional facilities, (iv) licensed private security companies, (v) persons who hold a valid Virginia concealed handgun permit, (vi) persons whose handgun has been stolen or irretrievably lost or who are trading in a handgun, (vii) purchases of handguns in a private sale, and (viii) purchases of antique firearms.

Many Virginia gun owners do not hold a concealed carry permit because they feel telling the government they own a gun it is a violation of their privacy, and they do not wish to be added to a government-held list of firearm owners. This law appears specifically targeted towards this group.

Recklessly leaving firearms in the presence of children

Any person who recklessly leaves a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any person under the age of 14 can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2500.00 fine. This law does not distinguish between firearm owners and non-owners who recklessly left the firearms accessible to children.

 

Local Alexandria, Fairfax & Arlington Firearm, Self-Defense and Defense of Property Laws

City of Alexandria: Sec. 13-2-3 – Discharge of firearms.

Any person who willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearm in the city shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor; provided that this section shall not apply to any law enforcement officer in the performance of his official duties, or to any other person whose said willful act is otherwise justifiable or excusable at law in the protection of his life or property or is otherwise specifically authorized by law.

City of Fairfax: Sec. 54-172. – Discharge of firearms.

It shall be unlawful for any person to fire or discharge any gun, pistol, or other firearm within the city, except:
(1) By special permit issued by the city manager containing reasonable conditions or restrictions, upon written application showing good cause for the requested firing or discharge, and limited to guns, pistols, and other firearms loaded with a blank cartridge, or other ammunition, not resulting in the expulsion of a projectile;
(2) On a shooting gallery or range authorized by the city;
(3) By any law enforcement officer in discharging his duties; or
(4) For the lawful protection of person or property; or
(5) As otherwise permitted by applicable law.

Arlington County: § 17-5. Firearms, Missiles, Etc.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge or shoot off a firearm in the County.
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge or shoot or throw any dangerous missiles by mechanical, explosive, air-or gas-propelled means, or similar method or device onto or across any public sidewalk, path, or roadway, at any public structure or building, or at or onto the property of another.
C. It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot a compound bow, crossbow, longbow, or recurve bow at or upon the property of another without permission. It shall be unlawful to discharge a projectile from any of the aforementioned bows within one hundred (100) yards of any public road, public building or structure, private residence or structure, or property of another. Any violation of subsection A, B, or C shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor.
D. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of firearms or other instruments or missiles or compound bows, crossbows, longbows, or recurve bows in lawful self defense or in the lawful defense of property, or to prohibit the use of firearms or other missiles or compound bows, crossbows, longbows, or recurve bows in supervised sport, recreation, or training conducted on safety-inspected and approved ranges and courses, provided the same is not contrary to existing law.

Fairfax County: 6-1-2. Hunting or discharge of firearms in certain places prohibited; exceptions.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot any firearm in any areas of the County that are so heavily populated as to make such conduct dangerous to the inhabitants thereof, which areas are designated in Appendix J to the Fairfax County Code. Firearms may lawfully be discharged in those areas that are exempted in Appendix J to the Fairfax County Code so long as the firearms are discharged on a Parcel of Land that is posted with signs giving reasonable notice that firearms are in use on that Parcel of Land and that no trespassing is allowed. Such signs shall be placed where they can reasonably be seen. However, if firearms are in use on only a portion of any Parcel of Land which meets the acreage and other requirements of the term “Parcel of Land,” as defined by Section 6-1-1, then only that portion of that Parcel of Land on which firearms are used shall be posted with signs.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt with a firearm any bird or game animal on or within 100 yards from any primary or secondary highway. A violation of this Subsection shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot or hunt with a firearm on any public school ground or any public park or on any area within 100 yards of any public school ground or public park. It shall be unlawful for any person who is hunting with a loaded firearm to traverse any public school ground or public park or to be within 100 yards from any such school ground or park. A violation of this Subsection shall be punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor. This Subsection shall not prohibit either (i) the lawful possession of a firearm when such firearm is carried for purposes of personal safety or (ii) the lawful possession of a firearm on a public highway within 100 yards of any public school ground or public park. Nothing in this Subsection shall apply to: (i) recreational shooting on gun ranges at any public school operated by or with the approval of that school; (ii) recreational shooting on gun ranges at any public park operated by or with the approval of the owner of the park; (iii) shooting of a starting pistol at an athletic event on any public school grounds or public park and which is conducted with the approval granted by the owner of that school or park property; or (iv) lands within a national or state park or forest, or wildlife management area.
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt with a shotgun loaded with slugs. A violation of this Subsection shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(e) Except for those persons who are on a Parcel of Land that is exempted in Appendix J and who hunt with shotguns loaded with multiple ball shot, it shall be unlawful for any person to hunt with a firearm which has a barrel caliber larger than a nominal 0.224 inches or to hunt with a firearm and ammunition combination having a muzzle energy greater than a .22 caliber rimfire cartridge. A violation of this Subsection shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(f) It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm from or across any highway, sidewalk or any public land except on a properly constructed target range.
(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsections (a) through (f) of this Section, the following acts shall not be violations of this Section:
(4) Shooting or discharge of any firearm by any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of the duties of a law enforcement agency. For the purposes of this Section the term “law enforcement officer” includes any person defined as a law enforcement officer pursuant to Virginia Code § 9.1-101 and any animal control officer acting in the performance of his or her duty.
(5) Discharge of any firearm in an entirely indoor target range, provided that adequate provisions are made to retain within the structure all projectiles discharged.
(6) Discharge of any firearm for the purpose of protecting any person from death or great bodily harm.
(7) Discharge of any firearm or starting pistol loaded with a blank cartridge, or other ammunition, not resulting in the expulsion of a projectile or projectiles.
(8) Discharge of any firearm (i) pursuant to a permit issued in accordance with Virginia Code § 29.1-529, if the discharge is on land that contains at least five acres and is zoned for agricultural use; or (ii) pursuant to authorization issued in accordance with 4 VAC 15-40-240 by the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
(9) Shooting or discharge of a firearm by any representative of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in the performance of duty for scientific collection or wildlife management purposes.

Town of Vienna Firearm Laws

Vienna Sec. 10-43. – Firearms; discharge prohibited; exceptions.
It shall be unlawful for any person in the Town to willfully fire or discharge any gun, pistol or other firearms except in a shooting gallery constructed and operated in accordance with the design criteria and specifications of the National Rifle Association as set forth in the NRA Range Source Book, and further, except where such firing or discharging is done with the written permission of the Town Manager and under the supervision of properly authorized Town personnel. This section shall not apply to any law enforcement officer in the performance of his official duties nor to any other person whose act is otherwise justifiable or excusable at law in the protection of his life or property, or is otherwise specifically authorized by law. This prohibited discharge of firearms shall not apply to the killing of deer pursuant to Code of Virginia, § 29.1-529 on land of at least five acres that is zoned for agricultural use.

Vienna Sec. 10-45. – Weapons; carrying concealed prohibited.
(a) If any person carries about his person, hidden from common observation:
(i) Any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack;
(ii) Any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain;
(iii) Any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart; or
(iv) Any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection (a);
he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. For the purpose of this section, a weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon’s true nature.
(b) This section shall not apply to persons who are exempt from Code of Virginia, § 18.2-308(A).

Vienna Sec. 10-45.1. – Pointing or brandishing firearm or object similar in appearance.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to point, or brandish any firearm, as hereinafter described, or any object similar in appearance to a firearm, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) Any police officer in the performance of his duty in making an arrest under the provisions of this section shall not be civilly liable in damages for injuries or death resulting to the person being arrested if he had reason to believe that the person being arrested was pointing, or brandishing such firearm, or object which was similar in appearance to a firearm, with intent to induce fear in the mind of another.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term “firearm” means any weapon in which ammunition may be used or discharged, by explosion, or pneumatic pressure. The term “ammunition” means cartridge, pellet, ball, missile or projectile adapted for use in a firearm.


VIRGINIA GUN PURCHASING OFFENSES

Virginia law forbids any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer to purchase more than one handgun within any thirty-day period. A violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor offense. A “handgun” is defined as any pistol or revolver or other firearm originally designed, made and intended to fire single or multiple projectiles by means of an explosion of a combustible material from one or more barrels when held in one hand. An excuse to this law is replacing a lost or stolen handgun, or trading handguns with another person.

There are many other purchasing offenses listed below in the selected Virginia code sections.


KNIFE VIOLATIONS

VA Code § 18.2-308 prohibits the concealed carry of any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack … or any “weapon of like kind.” The first violation of this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second violation is a Class 6 felony. A third or subsequent violation is a Class 5 felony.


BUTTERFLY KNIVES

A Butterfly knife is not a weapon of like kind enumerated in the code. Thus, the courts were left to interpret whether a butterfly knife is a weapon that cannot be concealed under the code section as the ones described above. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided in the case of Thompson v. Commonwealth that it is insufficient as a matter of law to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the butterfly knife at issue is “of like kind” to a dirk or any other weapon enumerated in Code § 18.2-308(A).


GAME / HUNTING OFFENSES

Virginia Law punishes various acts of hunting and poaching of game / wild animals. The laws are enumerated in Title 29.1 of the VA Code – “GAME, INLAND FISHERIES AND BOATING.” These crimes are generally punished as a misdemeanor offense, some carrying no jail time at all, while other offenses carrying up to a year in jail. Additionally, these violations may carry a loss or suspension of hunting license privileges altogether or for a period of a few years, and repayment to the government for a replacement for an animal killed. These laws are enforced by game wardens of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

HUNTING WHILE INTOXICATED

Hunting while intoxicated is punished the same as driving while intoxicated. Va Code 18.2-285 criminalizes hunting with firearms while under influence of an intoxicant or narcotic drug. Any person who hunts wildlife with a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow in the Commonwealth of Virginia – while he is under the influence of alcohol, any narcotic drug, or any intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature – to a degree that impairs his ability to hunt safely can face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine if found guilty of this class 1 misdemeanor charge.


THE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS & THE RIGHT TO SELF DEFENSE

The Second Amendment provides that: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is part of our Constitution, our basic guiding principles.

After some confusion on what this right really meant these days, in 2008, the Supreme Court in the monumental case of District of Columbia v. Heller, concluded that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” The Supreme Court made a strong reinforcement as to the right to “self-defense,” which it described as “the central component of the right itself.” The Court labeled this “core right” as the right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court described this Second Amendment right in District of Columbia v. Heller as “not unlimited.” As such, the Supreme Court ruled that “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” are “presumptively lawful” examples of 2nd Amendment regulations.

Hunting is not a guaranteed right at this time. The Supreme Court labeled the “core right” of the Second Amendment in Heller as the right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” This is a clear self defense right, but is not directly related to hunting for food, materials, trade or recreation. Neither does the Second Amendment explain the nature or reason for the right to bear arms.


Loss of Firearm License After Conviction

§ 18.2-308.013. Suspension or revocation of permit.
A. Any person convicted of an offense that would disqualify that person from obtaining a permit under § 18.2-308.09 or who violates subsection C of § 18.2-308.02 shall forfeit his permit for a concealed handgun and surrender it to the court. Upon receipt by the Central Criminal Records Exchange of a record of the arrest, conviction, or occurrence of any other event that would disqualify a person from obtaining a concealed handgun permit under § 18.2-308.09, the Central Criminal Records Exchange shall notify the court having issued the permit of such disqualifying arrest, conviction, or other event. Upon receipt of such notice of a conviction, the court shall revoke the permit of a person disqualified pursuant to this subsection, and shall promptly notify the State Police and the person whose permit was revoked of the revocation.

B. An individual who has a felony charge pending or a charge pending for an offense listed in subdivision 14 or 15 of § 18.2-308.09, holding a permit for a concealed handgun, may have the permit suspended by the court before which such charge is pending or by the court that issued the permit.

C. The court shall revoke the permit of any individual for whom it would be unlawful to purchase, possess, or transport a firearm under § 18.2-308.1:2 or 18.2-308.1:3, and shall promptly notify the State Police and the person whose permit was revoked of the revocation.

§ 29.1-338. Revocation of license and privileges; penalties.
If any person is found guilty of violating (i) any of the provisions of the hunting, trapping, or inland fish laws, any provisions of §§ 15.2-915.2, 15.2-1209.1, 18.2-131 through 18.2-136 and §§ 18.2-285 through 18.2-286.1, or any regulations adopted by the Board pursuant thereto, a second time within three years of a previous conviction of violating any such law or regulation, or (ii) any provisions of law or ordinance governing the dumping of refuse, trash or other litter, while engaged in hunting, trapping or fishing, such license and privileges shall be revoked by the court trying the case and that person shall not apply for a new license or exercise such privileges until 12 months succeeding the date of conviction. The court may also prohibit the convicted person from hunting, fishing, or trapping in the Commonwealth for a period of one to five years. If found hunting, trapping or fishing during this prohibited period, the person shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Licenses revoked shall be sent to the Director.


Forfeiture of Firearms Upon Conviction

§ 19.2-386.28. Forfeiture of weapons that are concealed, possessed, transported or carried in violation of law.
Any firearm, stun weapon as defined by § 18.2-308.1, or any weapon concealed, possessed, transported or carried in violation of § 18.2-283.1, 18.2-287.01, 18.2-287.4, 18.2-308.1:2, 18.2-308.1:3, 18.2-308.1:4, 18.2-308.2, 18.2-308.2:01, 18.2-308.2:1, 18.2-308.4, 18.2-308.5, 18.2-308.7, or 18.2-308.8 shall be forfeited to the Commonwealth and disposed of as provided in § 19.2-386.29.

§ 19.2-386.29. Forfeiture of certain weapons used in commission of criminal offense.
All pistols, shotguns, rifles, dirks, bowie knives, switchblade knives, ballistic knives, razors, slingshots, brass or metal knucks, blackjacks, stun weapons, and other weapons used by any person in the commission of a criminal offense, shall, upon conviction of such person, be forfeited to the Commonwealth by order of the court trying the case. The court shall dispose of such weapons as it deems proper by entry of an order of record. Such disposition may include the destruction of the weapons or, subject to any registration requirements of federal law, sale of the firearms to a licensed dealer in such firearms in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 22.1 (§ 19.2-386.1 et seq.) regarding sale of property forfeited to the Commonwealth.

The court may authorize the seizing law-enforcement agency to use the weapon for a period of time as specified in the order. When the seizing agency ceases to so use the weapon, it shall be disposed of as otherwise provided in this section.

However, upon petition to the court and notice to the attorney for the Commonwealth, the court, upon good cause shown, shall return any such weapon to its lawful owner after conclusion of all relevant proceedings if such owner (i) did not know and had no reason to know of the conduct giving rise to the forfeiture and (ii) is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the weapon. The owner shall acknowledge in a sworn affidavit to be filed with the record in the case or cases that he has retaken possession of the weapon involved.


 

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