It can feel like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to become a lawful gun owner in Virginia. Though applying feels like an inconvenience, it is important to take each step carefully. If you fail to fill out the form accurately, you can be accused of falsifying a Virginia firearm application. This a serious criminal charge and it can severely complicate your life and jeopardize your record.
When a prosecutor accuses you of lying on a gun application, contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico as soon as possible. We understand that an honest mistake, misunderstanding, or typo can cause a great deal of trouble and lead to a felony charge. We are here to fight for a dismissal or acquittal in your case. We want to help you avoid a felony conviction and retain your right to own and possess firearms.
Applying to Purchase a Firearm in Virginia
To purchase a firearm from a dealer in Virginia, you must fill out a written form that gives the dealer certain information about you and consent to run a background check.
This form requires you to provide:
- Citizenship/immigration status;
- Social security number or other identification number;
- Number of firearms by category that are intended to be sold, rented, traded, or transferred; and
- Answers to certain questions.
You must provide accurate answers to all of the boxes on the form. If you lie about your name or another characteristic, you may be accused of falsifying a Virginia firearm application.
It also is imperative you answer the questions on the form accurately. Intentionally or accidentally providing an incorrect answer can lead to criminal charges.
The form will ask you whether:
- You have been convicted of a felony offense or found guilty or adjudicated delinquent at 14 years or older for an offense that would have been a felony if you were an adult;
- You are subject to a restraining order due to harassment, stalking, or threatening the applicant’s child or an intimate partner, or a protective order;
- You have been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity;
- You have been adjudicated legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated;
- You have been involuntarily admitted to an inpatient facility; and
- You have been involuntarily ordered to outpatient mental health treatment.
These questions are where we see people get confused and into trouble the most.
Even as experienced Roanoke gun crimes lawyers, we can see how some of these questions can be misinterpreted.
You may not remember whether a juvenile offense would have been for a felony or not. You may not know if a court-ordered drug treatment program counts as outpatient mental health treatment. Or, you may not be sure how to answer if a judge adjudicated you incompetent years ago, but the court later deemed you competent again.
Do not fill out and file a firearm application or concealed carry permit form if you are not confident about the answer. You should wait, check on the information, and, if necessary, speak with an experienced attorney about the correct response.
False Statements on a Firearm Application Offense
Under Code of Virginia §18.2-308.2:2(K), if you willfully and intentionally make a materially false statement on the consent form or any firearm transaction records required by federal law, then a prosecutor can charge you with a Class 5 felony.
Elements to Convict You of Falsifying a Firearm Application
An honest mistake or typo should not lead to a criminal conviction because a prosecutor must prove:
- There was a false statement on the form;
- The false statement was material; and
- You intentionally and willfully made the false statement.
The most common false statement on a firearm application that we usually see are regarding domestic violence convictions. The form asks the question because federal law prohibits the purchase. However, it does not prohibit purchase under Virginia law. This can create a confusing situation involving criminal firearm charges.
Our Roanoke gun crimes attorneys will defend you by establishing the mistake was accidental or due to you misunderstanding a portion of the form. A mistake is not an intentional and willful statement.
We also may argue that the false statement was not material to the application. For a false statement to be material, it must impact the outcome of the application. For example, a response is material if a differing response would have led to the dealer denying your application.
The Penalty for Lying on a Gun Application
If convicted of a Class 5 felony, a court can sentence you to between one and 10 years in prison and a fine up to $2,500. The judge or jury also has the discretion to sentence you to no more than 12 months in jail. Whether or not you receive the lighter sentence might depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense and your criminal history.
Call Our Lawyers for Falsifying a Virginia Firearm Application Today
It may be frightening and confusing to be accused of lying on a gun application. We see many Roanoke residents who fill out the form too quickly, guess at an answer, or believe their records are clean be charged with this felony crime.
When you retain Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, we will carefully review the circumstances of how the error occurred. We can work directly with the prosecutor to show there has been a misunderstanding and to have the charge dropped or reduced. We want to help you maintain a clean criminal history and lawfully purchase and own firearms.
Facing falsifying a firearm application charges in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with falsifying a firearm application in Roanoke, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call us at (540) 343-9349.