Virginia Beach Gun Lawyer
You have the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, but there are limits to this right. The Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government have established certain prohibited behaviors related to the ownership and use of weapons. If you violate gun laws, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense and face potential penalties including jail time. A Virginia Beach gun lawyer can help you to defend yourself if you have been accused of violating the law so you can do your best to avoid conviction or minimize penalties.
Gun Crimes in Virginia
Virginia is a “shall issue” state that recognizes concealed-carry permits from 30 other U.S. states with reciprocity. This means that if you request and are eligible for a concealed-carry permit, the Commonwealth of Virginia must grant you one. If you have a concealed-carry permit from one of the states with reciprocity, you are also permitted to bring your weapon with you into Virginia.
Obtaining the proper permits is essential if you wish to have a gun, because you can be charged with a gun crime if you have a concealed weapon without proper licensing. Virginia Code Section 18.2-308 addresses the offense of carrying a concealed weapon without a valid permit. You will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, a class 6 felony for a second offense, and a class 5 felony for a third and subsequent offense.
Virginia law also prohibits felons from possessing a weapon. Code Section 18.2-308.2 makes it a class 6 felony for someone to have a firearm after a felony conviction. You will face a minimum of two years in prison for this offense unless your prior felony conviction was for a violent offense. Individuals with previous violent convictions who illegally possess a firearm face a minimum of five years’ incarceration if convicted.
A Virginia Beach gun lawyer can assist you when facing any of the aforementioned gun crimes by carefully reviewing the details of your case and generating a specialized defense strategy based on your unique circumstances.
Penalties for Discharging a Gun
In addition to being charged with a crime for illegally possessing a weapon, you may be prosecuted for illegally discharging your weapon. There are a variety of Virginia laws that restrict when and where you can use a firearm. For example:
- Code Section 18.2-53.1 makes it a felony to use a gun when committing any other felony crime. For example, if you use a gun when you are committing robbery, you can be charged under this Virginia law as well as being charged for the robbery. The minimum penalties for unlawfully using a gun in the commission of a felony are three years for a first offense and five years for a subsequent offense, in addition to any prison time for the underlying felony.
- Code Section 18.2-279 makes it a class 4 felony to shoot a gun in or at a school, to shoot a gun and endanger people inside of a building, or to maliciously shoot a gun inside or at any building. Shooting a gun at a building unlawfully, but not maliciously, is a class 6 felony.
- Code Section 18.2-280 makes it a class 6 felony to discharge your weapon in public and cause bodily injury. It is a class 1 misdemeanor to discharge a gun in a public space if no one gets hurt, as long as the public space is not near a school. It is a class 4 felony to discharge a gun at a public space near a school.
Conviction for certain gun crimes can also result in a prohibition on owning weapons in the future.
Hiring a Virginia Beach Gun Lawyer
You have the option of negotiating a plea bargain with a prosecutor or going to trial and pleading not guilty when you have been accused of a gun crime. A Virginia Beach gun lawyer can assist you in deciding which of these options is right for you. He or she can also help you to identify possible defenses to gun crimes, including unlawful search in collecting evidence, lack of intent to commit the gun crime, or insufficient evidence that you committed the crime.
A Virginia Beach gun lawyer can assist you every step of the way in approaching your gun crimes charges in a strategic manner, so you should consider calling one as soon as possible after your arrest.