Breaking weapons laws in Virginia can result in serious consequences, including fines and possible jail time. Ignorance of these laws is no defense, so if you intend to own guns on Virginia, you should become familiar with the state’s gun laws. For legal assistance, don’t hesitate to call a qualified Roanoke gun crimes attorney immediately.
Who Cannot Legally Carry or Own a Firearm in Virginia?
In general, anyone over 18 can carry a firearm openly in Virginia. It’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor (punishable by 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine) for minors to carry firearms, except when:
- The minors are on their own property, that of their parents, grandparents, or legal guardians, or on the property of any person who has obtained the permission of the parents
- The minors are going to or from a shooting range while accompanied by an adult
- The minors are lawfully hunting, and the weapons are unloaded while being transported
- The minors are carrying out their duties with the armed forces
Virginia law prohibits convicted felons from knowing and intentionally carrying a firearm. This offense is a Class 6 Felony, which involves a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a possible fine of $2,500. If the felony for which you were previously convicted was violent, you’ll face a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence. And if the felony was committed in the past 10 years, the judge must impose a 2-year minimum sentence.
When Is Concealed Carry Legal?
Open carry must be distinguished from concealed carry, where the firearm is hidden within a person’s clothing or bag. Under Virginia law, a weapon is considered to be concealed even when it is visible, but has been camouflaged to not look like a weapon.
It’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor to carry a firearm—or any other dangerous weapon—that is concealed, except when:
- The person carrying the concealed weapon is at his or her place of business or in or near his or her house
- The person carrying the concealed weapon is a law enforcement officer or a retired state police officer
- The individual carrying the concealed weapon is at, going to, or leaving a legal shooting range and the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped
- The person carrying the concealed weapon is a member of a weapons collecting organization who is at, going to, or leaving a weapons exhibition, and the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped
- The individual carrying the concealed weapon is transporting the (unloaded and securely wrapped) weapon between his or her home and a place of purchase or repair of weapons
- The person with the concealed weapon is legally hunting and protecting his or her weapon from bad weather
- The individual carrying the concealed weapon is a state attorney
- The weapon is secured in a container or compartment of a private motor vehicle or boat
- The person carrying the concealed weapon is at, going to, or leaving a firearms training course in which he or she is enrolled
- The individual with the concealed weapon is a carrier of the US Mail or a corrections officer exercising his or her official duties
For the first offense, you may face 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500. A second violation will result in a Class 6 Felony charge (involving up to 5 years in prison and a possible $2,500 fine), and a third or subsequent offense will be charged as Class 5 Felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a possible $2,500 fine.
To carry a concealed handgun legally in Virginia, it’s necessary to obtain a concealed carry permit, which is available only to people over 21. The person carrying the concealed handgun must have the permit on his or person, and present this permit to a law enforcement officer on request. There’s a $25 civil fine for people who refuse or are unable to show their concealed carry permit to law enforcement.
In What Places Is Carrying a Firearm Illegal in Virginia?
Virginia law prohibits that carrying of weapons—whether open or concealed—in certain places:
- Taking a firearm, knife, or other dangerous weapon to a place of worship while a religious meeting is being held—Class 4 Misdemeanor resulting in a fine of up to $250.
- Carrying a dangerous weapon or a firearm (or its components) into a courthouse—Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Carrying a firearm at an elementary, middle, or high school, on a school bus, or at a place where school-sponsored or extra curricular activities are taking place—Class 6 Felony involving a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a possible $2,500 fine.
When the person threateningly displays the firearm or intends to use it while at the school, he or she will face a mandatory 5-year prison sentence in addition to any other sentence he or she might receive.
If convicted you could be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and have to pay a fine of $2,500.
What Regulations Does Virginia Place on the Use of Firearms?
Virginia law doesn’t just restrict who can own firearms and when or where they can be carried—it also punishes the possession of certain types of weapons or the use of weapons under certain circumstances:
- It’s a Class 5 Felony to intentionally fire a weapon from a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a risk to others or puts others in fear or serious injury or death. The maximum sentence for this offense is 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
- It’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor for a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon to do so while in a public place and under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. A conviction may result in up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
- It’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor to carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant or bar and to drink alcohol. If convicted, you may face up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
- It’s a Class 3 Misdemeanor to fail to report a machine gun to the State Police within 24 hours of its acquisition or conversion from semi-automatic. The maximum fine for this offense is $500.
- It’s a Class 6 Felony to import, sell, own, or transfer the Striker 12, or any other semi-automatic folding stock shotgun with a drum magazine holding 12 or more shells. This offense involves up to 5 years in prison and a possible $2,500 fine.
- It’s a Class 2 Felony to have or use a sawed-off rifle or shotgun in the course of attempting or carrying out a violent crime. The penalty for this offense is a prison sentence of 20 years to life and a possible fine of up to $100,000.
- Displaying or using any other firearm in the course of committing a violent felony will result in a 3-year prison sentence for the first offense, and a 5-year sentence for the second offense—in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony.
- It’s Class 4 Felony to possess or use a sawed-off rifle or shotgun for any purpose. A conviction may result in a prison sentence between 2 and 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
What Should I Do If I Get Charged With Violating Virginia Gun Crime Laws?
The consequences of breaking Virginia’s gun laws may be harsh. In addition to fines, court costs, attorney fees, and possible jail time, you will also have to contend with the drawbacks of having the offense listed on your criminal record. For this reason, you should contact a Virginia gun attorney as soon as you are arrested or charged with any crime. You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police or a prosecutor, and you should exercise this right to maximize your chances of avoiding a conviction. If you need a Roanoke criminal defense attorney, call Copenhaver, Ellett and Derrico today at for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
Although the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, section 13 of the Virginia Constitution guarantee the right to keep and bear arms, the Virginia legislature can limit gun ownership rights on its territory to the extent necessary to protect the health and safety of the state’s citizens. Thus, Virginia has extensive legislation that defines the limits of legal gun ownership and use.
How a Virginia Gun Crimes Attorney Can Help You
If you’ve been charged with a weapons charge in Virginia, the experienced Roanoke attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our office, call us at .