Weapons Charges in Virginia
Virginia regulates the possession and use of concealed weapons, including guns and explosives.
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The Commonwealth of Virginia has numerous laws that criminalize the possession or use of different types of weapons in some circumstances. The following list represents a small portion of all the weapons charges possible in Virginia.
Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Unless otherwise authorized by law, it’s illegal to carry a concealed pistol, revolver, switchblade, slingshot, blackjack, or other weapon as specifically identified by law in Virginia. Anyone who carries a prohibited weapon without legal authorization commits a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, while second and subsequent offenses are punished as felonies.
(Code of Virginia section 18.2-308)
Setting a Spring Gun or Other Deadly Weapon
It’s a crime in Virginia to set any type of spring gun trap, or to set any deadly weapon so that it will be discharged when someone comes into contact with a string, wire, or other remote triggering mechanism.
In Virginia, a deadly weapon is defined as any instrument that is likely to produce great bodily harm or death. This definition encompasses firearms, knives, and other instruments that, even though not designed as weapons, can be used or employed in a vicious way.
Setting a spring gun or other deadly weapon is a Class 6 felony.
(Code of Virginia section 18.2-281)
Hunting While Under the Influence of Intoxicants
It’s illegal to hunt with any firearm, crossbow, or bow and arrow while under the influence of alcohol or any narcotic drug or intoxicant. Someone who hunts while intoxicated using such weapons commits a Class 1 misdemeanor offense.
(Code of Virginia section 18.2-285)
Concealed Carry Permits
Adults in Virginia can legally carry concealed firearms if they have a concealed handgun license. To obtain such a license, applicants must be at least 21 years old, be a resident of Virginia, submit to a criminal history record check and fingerprinting, complete a handgun safety training course, and submit the concealed permit application to the local county or city law enforcement agency.
Additionally, some people are prevented from obtaining a license even if they meet all the necessary requirements. Those prevented from obtaining a license include, but are not limited to, anyone subjected to a restraining order, fugitives from justice, and any person dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
For a full explanation of the concealed carry rules in Virginia, read Gun Permit Laws in Virginia.
Many cities and municipalities in Virginia have also enacted ordinances that place additional restrictions on the use of weapons. It’s very common, for example, for cities to have ordinances that prohibit people from firing weapons within the city limits unless in a firing range or other authorized area or event.
The penalties for violating weapons law in the state of Virginia can include fines, probation, jail time, and other punishment. The particular penalties involved will differ from case to case depending on the circumstances.
For example, a person convicted of a Class 6 felony faces between 1 to 5 years in prison, or up to 12 months in a county jail and $2,500 in fines. On the other hand, a person convicted of a Class I misdemeanor faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
If you’d like to know more about criminal sentencing laws in Virginia, see Virginia Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences, and Virginia Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Seek Legal Representation
You should never face weapons-related charges without talking to a qualified Virginia criminal defense attorney. Even if you have not been charged with a crime, you should always talk to an attorney if you ever need advice or have questions about weapons laws in Virginia. Local attorneys who have experience in local courts are the only people who can give you the advice you need.