Common Colonial Heights Gun Charges

There are many different types of gun charges throughout the State of Virginia, each with varying penalties and consequences. However, there are certain offenses that are considered to be more common Colonial Heights gun charges. Whether it is possessing a firearm as a felon, or unlawfully brandishing that firearm in public, anyone accused of an offense should consider reaching out to a skilled attorney for help.

Subsets of Gun Charges

There are two subsets of gun charges: possessing a firearm and shooting a firearm. The two biggest subsets of possessing a firearm are concealing it and possessing it as a convicted felon. This is because the state does not have any law making it illegal to simply possess a firearm as a citizen.

The criminalization of possessing a firearm is mostly a charge for concealing a weapon, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500 for a first offense. A charge for concealing a weapon can also include other weapons, like bowie knives, switchblades, ballistic knives or machetes. A second or subsequent offense becomes a Class 6 felony.

The other common criminal act regarding possession is possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. That means that an individual possessed a firearm on, or about their person, and they have been convicted of a felony offense. After a felony, their right to possess a firearm is automatically stripped away.

Possession of a Firearm

In order to actually possess a firearm, there are two primary requirements: it must be a gun, and the individual has to know that it is a firearm. This is opposed to a water gun, which shoots water, or an airsoft rifle, which shoots BBs with compressed air. While those types of “weapons” can get someone in trouble when it comes to concealing or use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, they do not qualify for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

Furthermore, for a possession charge, the firearm must be possessed constructively or actually. Actual possession means that the firearm is in their hand, in their pocket, in a book bag on their back, or on their person. Constructive possession, on the other hand, means that the individual possesses a firearm, that they exercise dominion and control over that gun or the area that it is in, and they have the intent to possess it.

Possession as a Felon

A convicted felon possessing a firearm is a Class 6 felony. If the individual has been convicted of a violent felony—such as robbery, murder, shooting, rape or anything that has been described or defined by the Virginia Code as a violent felony—then they are looking at a mandatory minimum of five years in jail. Even though this is a Class 6 felony, a conviction will still carry a penalty of five years in jail.

If the felony that they were convicted of was non-violent and within 10 years of this possession, however, they are looking at a mandatory minimum of two years in jail. This also means that if an individual has been convicted of grand larceny—a non-violent felony—and 11 years later they get caught with a gun, it is not a Class 6 felony and it is not within 10 years of the previous felony. Since grand larceny is not a violent offense, that individual is looking at no mandatory minimum jail time.

Unlawful Discharge

Another category is actually discharging a firearm. A charge for the reckless handling of a firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can lead to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. There is also discharging a firearm or shooting into an occupied dwelling or vehicle, all of which are considered Class 6 felonies. This carries up to five years in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If an individual performs one of those criminal acts with malicious intent to harm somebody, however, then the charge will likely be elevated to be a Class 4 felony. At that point, the individual is looking at 20 years in jail and fines upwards of $100,000.

Seeking Legal Help with Common Colonial Heights Firearm Charges

No matter how often common Colonial Heights gun charges occur, they are usually treated seriously. As a result, any weapons charge a person faces often requires the skill and counsel of a seasoned attorney.

A lawyer could work to fight charges and protect a person’s rights during the ensuing legal process. To learn more, call today to schedule a consultation.