Fighting Weapons Charges in Richmond, Virginia
A Virginia gun charge conviction can carry serious consequences. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the complicated system of laws and regulations concerning firearms in the state of Virginia. That means it’s easy to get into legal trouble, and easy to underestimate how serious that trouble may be.
The consequences of a gun-related conviction vary depending on the charge, the criminal history of the defendant, and other factors. But, it’s important to be aware that some gun charges are considered serious felonies and carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. A firearms conviction can have other consequences, too, including disqualification from certain types of employment and ineligibility for a concealed carry permit.
Consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney like Ali J. Amirshahi can be your best first step toward protecting yourself when you’ve been charged with a gun crime. Mr. Amirshahi offers free, no-obligation consultations, so you have nothing to lose by educating yourself about the possible consequences of the crime you’ve been charged with, your rights, and any possible defenses.
Types of Virginia Gun Charges:
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Carrying a concealed gun or other weapon is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with subsequent convictions classified as more serious crimes and carrying more serious penalties. A second violation is a Class 6 felony, and a third or subsequent a Class 5 felony.
For sentencing purposes, Class 6 and Class 5 felonies may be treated as felonies carrying potential prison sentences of 1-5 years and 1-10 years in prison, or may be treated like Class 1 misdemeanors and subject to a maximum sentence of 12 months in the county jail. Thus, it is very important to get reliable legal advice and guidance if you are facing a lower-level felony gun charge.
Having a concealed handgun permit is an affirmative defense to the charge of carrying concealed weapons. That means all the prosecution has to prove is that the accused was carrying a concealed weapon. Then, the burden is on the accused to prove that he or she was legally authorized to do so.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms
While there is no general prohibition on possession of a firearm in Virginia, there are many crimes relating to possession of a firearm by certain people and in certain places. In addition, possession of certain types of guns is a crime. Some of the most common restrictions on possession of a firearm include:
- With limited exceptions, it is a misdemeanor to possess a firearm on school property, in a place of worship during religious services, in an air carrier terminal, or in a courthouse.
- It is a Class 6 felony for most convicted felons to possess or transport firearms. Depending on the length of time that has passed since the prior felony conviction and the nature of the prior crime, a conviction may carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two or five years.
- It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or who has been legally determined to be incompetent or mentally incapacitated to possess a firearm.
Anyone who possesses or plans to possess or carry a gun in Virginia should educate himself or herself about the applicable restrictions in advance. If you have already made a misstep and been charged with a gun crime, schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Dangerous Use of Firearms
Virginia law prohibits a wide range of firearm-related activities that may put people at risk. For instance:
- Brandishing a firearm: It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to point, hold, or brandish a gun in a way that reasonably induces fear. This prohibition also applies to “any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not,” meaning that making threatening gestures with a prop gun, realistic toy gun, or similar object can result in conviction of the same crime as if the gun had been real.
- Shooting in or at an occupied building: It is a Class 4 felony to maliciously shoot within or at an occupied building in a manner that endangers people’s lives. Note that other, more serious charges will likely apply if anyone is actually harmed.
- Discharging a firearm in public: It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to discharge a gun in a public street, public gathering place or place of business. However, the crime will be charged as a Class 6 felony if the act results in bodily injury, and a Class 4 felony if the discharge takes place on the grounds of or within 1,000 feet of the property line of an elementary, middle or high school.
If You’re Facing Virginia Gun Charges, Get Help Today
If you’ve been charged with a gun crime, whether one of the common crimes listed above or another firearm-related offense, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The charges you face may carry serious penalties, including some not directly imposed by the court.
Attorney Ali J. Amirshahi has decades of experience in the Virginia criminal court system, and he understands the pitfalls an inexperienced defendant faces when attempting to navigate gun charges. That’s why he offers free initial consultations. Schedule yours now by calling 804-658-5384.