Prosecuting Colonial Heights Gun Charges

While the Second Amendment protects your right to bear arms, it does not constitute a legal defense. If you are facing charges from the state, it is typically a good idea to work with a legal representative that could draft a defense and put your interests at the forefront of a case.

Where Gun Charges Are Typically Processed in Colonial Heights

Many charges are going to be prosecuted in two different places. Virginia has a two-tiered judicial system. There are the low and the high court systems. The low court is referred to as the District Court and the high court is referred to as the Circuit Court. The low court has the jurisdiction to find guilt or innocence for all misdemeanors and infractions. They do not have jurisdiction to find guilt or innocence on felony offenses. For that, the case must go to the high court or the Circuit Court.

If a person is charged with a gun charge and it is a misdemeanor in nature, then they would be tried in the General District Court. If they are charged with a gun charge and it is a felony offense, then it would be tried in the General District Court. Most crimes charged are misdemeanors, so most gun charges are going to be heard initially in the General District Court. Even if they have a misdemeanor, the Circuit Court has the power to hear guilt or innocence on all cases, both felonies and misdemeanors.

The person could appeal any decision from the General District Court to the Circuit Court.

Important Aspects of Most Colonial Heights Cases

In a concealed carry case, the Commonwealth must prove that an individual hid a weapon from common observation. A gun is considered a weapon, but the charge could also cover things like a butterfly knife, bowie knife, brass knuckles, and other weapons. If prosecutors prove that the person had a weapon enumerated in the statute and hid it from observation, the person would face a Class One misdemeanor for a first offense, a Class Six felony for a second offense, or a Class Five felony for any subsequent offense.

With the reckless handling of a firearm charge, it is unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. The prosecution must prove that they handled the firearm recklessly and endangered the life, limb, or property of any person. The first conviction is a Class One misdemeanor. If the reckless handling of the firearm leads to bodily injury of another, then it increases from a Class One misdemeanor to a Class Six felony. The third charge is brandishing of a firearm, which means having, using, or showing a firearm in a way that scares or intimidates another individual.

The item must be an actual firearm. Normally, a Class One misdemeanor increases to a Class Six felony if done in a school zone. As described in the code section, a weapon used to expel a projectile by means of an explosion must be used, so this does not apply to a water pistol or any other non-firearm. Possessing a firearm by a convicted felon could require proof of either actual possession when the weapon is found on the person or constructive possession when the weapon is in an area over which the person exerts control.

If they exercise dominion and control over an area where the firearm is located, then they could be found guilty of a Class Six felony if they have been previously convicted of a felony. If they are a violent felon, meaning that they have been convicted of rape, robbery, murder, carjacking, or a previous possessing of a firearm by a convicted felon, then they face a Class Six felony with a five-year mandatory minimum. If they are found to possess a firearm as a convicted felon within 10 years of a previous felony conviction, they face a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Lastly, if they violate the concealed carry laws while they are a felon, then they could subsequently be convicted of possessing a firearm by a felon. This is important because concealed carry does not necessarily mean firearm. People could conceal carry any kind of weapon.

If they use or display a firearm in the commission of one of these felonies, then on the first offense, accused face a three-year mandatory minimum and on a second offense, they face a five-year mandatory minimum. Again, those felonies include murder, rape, forcible sodomy, using an animate or inanimate object for sexual penetration, robbery, carjacking, burglary, malicious wounding, malicious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding by a mob, or abduction.

Finally, shooting into an occupied dwelling or vehicle is a Class One misdemeanor on the first offense, which carries two to 10 years in jail. If they are found to commit the act with malice, it is a Class Six felony carrying from no years to 10 years in jail. Malice is defined as the state of mind which results in the intentional doing of an unlawful act to another without legal excuse or justification at the time the mind of the actor is under control of reason.

What Accused Should Know About Their Colonial Heights Prosecutor in Their Case

Charged people should know that, among prosecutors, having a gun is not looked at as seriously as using a gun illegally. If they are charged with possessing a gun illegally but not in relation to any other crime and not in a violent or threatening way, the Commonwealth may give them an opportunity to get their concealed carry permit or work with them to avoid those mandatory minimums. If they are charged with shooting, robbing, or using their gun in the commission of one of the enumerated felonies, then the Commonwealth would have very little to no mercy on them and would ask the judge or the jury to lock them up for an extended amount of time.

Enlist the Experience of a Defense Attorney

Because of the severity at which the state typically prosecutes gun charges, it goes without saying that hiring a defense attorney is in your best interests. A defense attorney could help you take steps to mitigate the severity of your charge or even deny allegations if you feel them improper. Reach out to an attorney today.