The right to carry a firearm in Virginia is not absolute. There are many restrictions on who can carry a weapon, whether openly or concealed, and where. If the police determine you are unlawfully carrying a firearm, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Federal gun laws also limit who can carry weapons and which properties must remain gun-free. You might face a more serious charge under federal law.
The penalties and consequences for a firearm conviction are not to be taken lightly. Whether you are arrested or charged under Virginia or federal law, you should contact a Roanoke possession of firearm attorney at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico. You can schedule a free consultation by calling (540) 343-9349 or submitting your information online.
Minors in Possession of Firearms
Most individuals over 18 years old can carry a firearm openly in Virginia, though there are restrictions. If a minor under 18 years of age is found in possession of a firearm and does not fit into a lawful exception, prosecutors can charge them with a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Virginia Concealed Carry Rules
To carry a firearm concealed on your person, you must obtain a concealed carry permit in the county where you live. You must be at least 21 years old, show proof of handgun competency, and pay a fee.
Handgun competency can be established through a safety and/or training course or presenting evidence of equivalent experience, such as military service.
Several factors can make you ineligible for a concealed carry permit:
- You have been acquitted of a crime for reason of insanity;
- You have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated or incompetent;
- You were involuntarily admitted to mental health treatment;
- There is a restraining order or protective order against you;
- You were convicted of a felony;
- There is currently a felony offense pending against you;
- You have two or more misdemeanor convictions within five years prior to the application;
- You are addicted to any controlled substance;
- You have received mental health or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within five years of the application;
- You have been convicted of alcohol-related offenses or exhibit habitual drunkenness;
- You are an undocumented alien;
- You received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces;
- You are a fugitive from justice;
- You are likely to use the weapon unlawfully or negligently;
- You have been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging a firearm, or brandishing a firearm within three years of the application;
- You have been convicted of stalking;
- You were adjudicated as delinquent as a minor for a crime that would have been a felony offense; or
- You were convicted of a drug offense within three years of the application.
If you cannot obtain a concealed carry permit because of one of these issues, and you choose to carry a weapon hidden on your person, you can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
In Virginia, if you carry a concealed firearm in public without a valid permit, you can be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A second concealed carry charge is a Class 6 felony. A third offense is a Class 5 felony.
You should contact a Roanoke possession of firearm attorney right away. At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, we regularly assist individuals accused of unlawfully carrying a weapon when they had or reasonably believed they had a valid permit.
Illegal Possession of a Handgun Charges in Virginia
You can be charged with unlawfully carrying a handgun or other weapon under:
- §18.2-308.1: Possession of firearm, stun weapon, or other weapon on school property prohibited. Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony.
- §18.2-308.1:1: Purchase, possession, or transportation of firearms by persons acquitted by reason of insanity. Class 1 misdemeanor.
- §18.2-308.1:2: Purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by persons adjudicated legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated. Class 1 misdemeanor.
- §18.2-308.1:3: Purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by persons involuntarily admitted or ordered to outpatient treatment. Class 1 misdemeanor.
- §18.2-308.1:4: Purchase or transportation of a firearm by persons subject to protective orders. Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony.
- §18.2-308.2: (Effective until January 1, 2021) Possession or transportation of firearms, firearms ammunition, stun weapons, explosives, or concealed weapons by convicted felons. Class 6 felony with mandatory minimum sentences.
- §18.2-308.2:01: Possession or transportation of certain firearms by certain persons. Class 6 felony.
- §18.2-308.2:1: Prohibiting the selling, etc., of firearms to certain persons. Class 4 felony.
- §18.2-308.4: Possession of firearms while in possession of certain substances. Class 6 felony.
Penalties for Illegal Possession of a Firearm in Virginia
Unlawful possession of firearm is often charged as Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
Other, more serious firearm possession charges are Class 6 felonies, punishable by between one and five years in prison and fines up to $2,500. Also, by the discretion of the judge or jury, you can be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail.
For those with prior firearm convictions, you may be charged with a Class 5 felony. This is punishable by between one and 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. The judge or jury also has the discretion to sentence you to up to 12 months in jail.
You should speak with a Roanoke possession of firearm attorney to learn more about the level of the charge against you and the potential penalty if sentenced.
Illegal Possession of a Handgun Under Federal Law
Under 18 U.S. Code §922, possession of a firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Prohibited persons include:
- Convicted felons;
- Drug users and addicts;
- Undocumented aliens;
- Person subject to a domestic restraining order;
- Person convicted of domestic violence;
- Fugitive from justice; or
- Person dishonorably discharged from the military.
One of the most common offenses is being a felon in possession of a firearm. If you were convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison, you are considered a felon. However, it is important to point out that the domestic violence conviction does not have to be a felony. Misdemeanor domestic violence convictions also make you ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law.
Armed Career Criminals Under Federal Law
If you are considered an armed career criminal by federal law, you face enhanced penalties for illegal possession.
An armed career criminal is defined in 18 U.S. Code §924(e) as a person with three or more convictions for serious drug crimes or violent felonies, which includes the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force against another person.
If convicted of a crime of an additional offense, you face at least 15 years in prison.
Contact a Roanoke Possession of a Firearm Lawyer Today
The consequences of carrying a firearm when you are prohibited from doing so can be severe. You could be charged and convicted of a felony, which will remove your right to own or possess firearms in the future or lead to considerable time in custody. To fight back against these Virginia or federal charges, we recommend contacting a firearm lawyer at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico.
How a Virginia Firearm Possession 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 (540) 343-9349.