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 in jail and a $2500 fine.
Self-defense, when either justifiable or excusable, is a defense to the crime of brandishing. The accused will have the burden to prove that he or she acted in self defense when the firearm was pointed or brandished.
Virginia courts have consistently ruled that a firearm may not be brandished solely in defense of personal property — that defense of property is not a justifiable or excusable defense to the crime of brandishing.
Brandishing Felony Enhancements
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.
Brandishing Near a School
Brandishing a firearm on any school property, including buildings and grounds, or on public property within 1,000 feet of school property, elevates the brandishing offense to a Class 6 felony.
Comprehensive law overview: Virginia Firearm & Weapon Charges and Hunting Laws: Defense Lawyer’s Explanation of Brandishing, Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and Hunting Offenses
§ 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty.
A. 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.
C. For purposes of this section, the word “firearm” means any weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material. The word “ammunition,” as used herein, shall mean a cartridge, pellet, ball, missile or projectile adapted for use in a firearm.