Types of Gun Charges in Colonial Heights

The consequences of a gun charge on your record could follow you for the rest of your life. In Colonial Heights, gun charges are also treated seriously by the state’s prosecution. However, there are many types of gun charges in Colonial Heights, each with a standard and burden of proof that the prosecution must meet.

Because of this, it may be critical for you to connect with an experienced attorney who could help you by constructing a defense and instructing you on the proactive measures you could take to mitigate sentencing.

Frequent Types of Gun Charges in Colonial Heights

Within Colonial Heights and Virginia, there is no standard gun charge per se. There are a lot of gun charges, but there are some that attorneys see more of than others. Usually, these common charges involve possessing or brandishing specific weapons that are prohibited.

What Defines a Gun and How that Definition Is Used in Colonial Heights Courts

The nature of a person’s charge often determines the definition of a gun because not all gun crimes require them to have an actual gun. Generally speaking, a firearm is defined as a weapon that expels a projectile by means of an explosion. When trying to defend a case involving the possession of a firearm, investigations start with the nature of the firearm, meaning that it has to actually be a firearm. Attorneys often look into whether the recovered or seized weapon actually fits the appropriate definition of a firearm. Again, the type of firearm often corresponds with the types of gun charges in Colonial Heights.

For example, water guns or airsoft rifles are not firearms because they do not expel their projectiles by means of an explosion. Essentially, the presence of gun powder in the mechanism of a weapon is a good indication that it is legally considered a firearm.

In some cases, however, the weapon does not have to fit that definition of a gun in order for a conviction to occur. Some situations merely require, for instance, that the alleged victim reasonably believed the accused person carried a firearm.

A Concealed Weapons Charge in Colonial Heights

One of the most prevalent gun charges defense attorneys see is called carrying a concealed weapon. This is a Class One misdemeanor that carries the maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $500, generally speaking. This charge could apply to many subcategories of weapons: slingshots, a bowie knife, and brass knuckles. Guns are relevant to that statute, and usually people are charged when they are concealing a firearm, not necessarily brass knuckles.

The Commonwealth must prove that (a) the individual possessed a firearm and (b) that the individual knew it was a firearm, and (c) that they had it hidden from common observation. If prosecutors could prove those three things, then the person could be found guilty of concealing a firearm. If they could prove that they have done this on one previous occasion, the charge increases to a Class Six felony. If the state could prove that the person has done this on two previous occasions and they were convicted of it on two previous occasions, then it increases to a Class Five felony.

Reckless Handling of a Firearm Charge in Colonial Heights

Another charge is reckless handling of a firearm, or being negligent with a firearm. Code section 18.2-56.1 states that it should be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearms so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. If individuals are found to be negligently handling their firearm, twirling the gun around their finger, putting it in a bag and kicking it down the street, or engaging in any such reckless behavior, then they could be found guilty of a Class One misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a fine of $500.

If their reckless handling of a firearm leads to somebody being seriously injured, they can be found guilty of a Class Six Felony.

Brandishing a Firearm Charge in Colonial Heights

Brandishing a firearm, covered in code section 18.2-282, refers to showing the firearm in a way to intimidate or scare another individual. If they do this, then they could be found guilty of a Class One misdemeanor and face 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. If they are found brandishing a firearm in a school zone or church area, among other specialized locations, then that jumps up to a Class Six felony.

A Class Six felony carries a maximum of up to five years in jail and a fine of $2,500. A Class five felony is 10 years in jail and a fine of $2,500. When charged with brandishing a firearm, it must be shown that the weapon actually was a gun or appeared to be a gun.

Alleged offenders cannot be charged with brandishing a firearm if they were trying to scare somebody with an object that did not reasonably appear to be a firearm. They may get other charges for that, but not brandishing a firearm.

Discharge of a Firearm into an Occupied Vehicle or Dwelling Charge in Colonial Heights

The final common charge is shooting into an occupied dwelling or shooting into a vehicle. If alleged offenders discharge a firearm into an occupied vehicle or dwelling, then that is going to be a Class Four felony that carries two to 10 years in jail as opposed to a Class Five that carries zero to 10 years in jail. The biggest factor when it comes to discharging firearms or missiles in an occupied building or vehicle is malice. If they act with malice, then they face a Class Four felony. If they act without malice, but unlawfully, they face a Class Six felony.

Malice is defined as the state of mind which results in the intentional doing of a wrongful act to another without legal excuse or justification at a time when the mind of the actor is under the control of reason. Malice may result from any unlawful or unjustifiable motive including anger, hatred, or vengeance. It refers to any deliberate, willful, and cruel act against another, however sudden. It does not have to take a long time to develop malice. If somebody pushes a person and they punch them in the face in response because they are mad at them, they have created malice the instant that they decide to punch them in the face.

Contact an Attorney to Review the Types of Firearm Charges in Colonial Heights

When faced with a situation where you decide to use a weapon, there could be a series of consequences that follow–no matter how justified you may have felt at the time. However, because the types of gun charges in Colonial Heights are so numerous and carry with them specific standards the prosecution must meet, it may be best to consult an attorney who could help.

An experienced attorney could review the specifics of your case, build a defense against the state’s charges, and help the court understand why you acted the way you did in the moment. These steps could prove useful for sentence mitigation. Do not hesitate, reach out to an attorney today.