Firearms are dangerous, and accidents have tragic consequences. Despite obvious injuries and fatalities, improper use means facing severe criminal charges. So if you or a loved one are charged with the illegal discharge of a firearm in Roanoke, you need to take it seriously and protect yourself with help from an experienced firearm lawyer.
No matter the situation, contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico immediately. With over 5 decades of local criminal defense experience and a history or getting positive results in Roanoke gun cases, we can explain what you’re dealing with and how to help.
What is Illegal Discharge of a Firearm?
Under § 18.2-280 illegal use of a firearm in VA refers to a person willfully discharging or causing a firearm to be discharged. And while the charges become more serious depending on the factors involved, illegal discharge is any time a gun owner fires their weapon in an inappropriate space. But regardless of the exact situation, law enforcement takes firing weapons seriously, especially when people are close by or you were in a vehicle.
Illegal Discharge of a Firearm Penalties
The consequences of an illegal discharge of a firearm conviction in Virginia typically depend on the circumstances of the firing and your prior criminal record.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm across a road – A Class 4 misdemeanor with a max fine of $250.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm with no bodily injury – A Class 1 misdemeanor, 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm that results in bodily injury – A Class 6 felony, between 12 months and 5 years in prison and $2,500 fine.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm from a car – A Class 5 felony, between 1 and 10 years in prison and fines up to $2,500.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm on or near school property – A Class 4 felony, between two and 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm within or at an occupied dwelling – A Class 6 or Class 4 felony if the firing was done with malicious intent. Otherwise, you face between 12 months and 5 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with Illegal Discharge
If you’ve been charged with a gun crime, there are some important steps you may wish to take.
- If someone is injured, seek medical attention right away. This can be an important piece of evidence for your defense, and used to show you lacked malicious intent.
- Try to take note of potential witnesses and details. Different details of the situation may be key to corroborating witness testimony and building your case.
- Do not speak to law enforcement. You may be tempted to try and explain yourself, but it’s best to avoid sharing details. Anything you say can be used against you, and even small details can harm your case.
- Contact an experienced attorney. Your attorney can help you navigate your arrest, secure you release, and explain what you should and should not tell law enforcement.
Keep in mind gun crimes can have an impact on you for the rest of your life. From not being allowed to own guns in the future to living with a felony conviction, if you’ve been charged with illegal discharge, it’s vital to handle things appropriately.
How an Attorney Can Help
A knowledgeable attorney can help you protect your rights and pursue the best possible result, including a possible dismissal, reduced charges, or negotiating a plea that lets you move on with your life.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you discharged a firearm illegally. But your attorney can help you build a defense, by reviewing the evidence, interviewing witnesses, limiting any inappropriate materials in your case, reaching out to experts, explaining any mitigating factors, and fighting for you in court.
Some common defenses to illegal discharge of a firearm include lack of intent or even being misidentified as the individual who discharged the weapon. You may also be able to argue that you feared for your life or property. An attorney can work with you to determine what happened and how those details benefit your case.
Contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico
An accident or mistake with a firearm does not have to limit the rest of your life. At Copenhaver, Ellett, & Derrico, we believe everyone has the right to an experienced criminal defense lawyer, and know how to effectively represent people charged with illegal discharge.
With decades of experience and history of protecting people like you in and around Roanoke, VA, contact us today and schedule a free consultation. Call (540) 343-9349 or reach out online. We’re ready to explain your rights and how we can help.