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Virginia has relatively strict gun laws, and our state legislature made them even tighter in 2020. Firearms offenses can bring heavy penalties, often carrying felony charges. If you’re a gun owner, staying aware of changing laws and regulations is essential. But even responsible gun owners can make mistakes. If you’re charged with a firearm offense, excellent legal representation is vital to protecting your reputation, preserving your civil rights and avoiding jail time.

What Are Common Firearm Offenses in Virginia?

A firearm is defined as a weapon designed, made, and intended to expel a projectile through an explosion. In Virginia, the term covers most guns, from assault rifles to handguns. Many firearms charges in Virginia involve possessing a firearm in places or conditions that are not allowed by law. Other charges pertain to violating the concealed carry restrictions, such as being under the influence of alcohol with a concealed weapon or possessing a firearm and illegal drugs. While Virginia is an open carry state, our concealed carry permits come with certain regulations that must be followed. Illegally possessing a firearm is often a felony in Virginia. A firearms conviction can have personal and professional ramifications and prevent you from owning a gun.

Common possession charges include:

  • Possession of a gun in prohibited places, including places of worship, courthouses, airports and on school property.
  • Possession of banned firearms, including machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and plastic firearms.
  • Possessing a firearm when in possession of certain drugs.
  • Possession of certain firearms by a minor.
  • Possession of a firearm by someone convicted of a felony.
  • Possession by someone with a permanent protective order.

Guns and kids: Virginia’s new gun laws increased the penalty for recklessly leaving a loaded firearm around children under the age of 14 from a Class 3 misdemeanor with a $500 fine to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of up to 12 months of jail time.

Violation of concealed handgun laws: Virginia is an open carry state, but you have to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. You can face criminal charges if you carry a concealed weapon without a license. It’s generally a misdemeanor on the first offense but still carries a punishment of up to 12 months in jail. A second offense is a felony with a prison sentence of up to five years.

In Virginia, using a firearm in the commission of a felony is a separate crime punishable by mandatory minimum jail time. This means you could have several criminal convictions for the same crime, with separate sentences for the crime and using a gun. A conviction for using or displaying a firearm in the commission of a felony brings a mandatory three-year jail sentence.

How Can My Attorney Help With Firearms Charges?

When used legally, guns are valuable tools and a means of self-defense for many Virginians. However, if you misuse a firearm, fail to comply with regulations or obtain necessary permits, you can be arrested and charged. A firearms conviction can bring enormous consequences, including jail time, heavy fines and losing your right to own a gun in the future. Hiring an experienced defense attorney can help you protect your record, preserve your rights and avoid jail time. As always in a criminal case, the burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt. We can often get charges dropped or reduced with the following strategies:

  • Underscore innocent mistakes and remorse from the accused.
  • Highlight your personal history as a responsible citizen and gun owner, often succeeding in getting charges dropped to a misdemeanor for first-time offenders.
  • Take advantage of gray areas when it comes to possession.
  • Identify potential police mistakes or misconduct.

As with every criminal case, the seasoned attorneys at the Laurel Brigade Law Group believe everyone is entitled to a vigorous criminal defense. We understand that even responsible gun owners make mistakes and will work tirelessly to identify all potentially mitigating factors to protect your reputation and civil rights.


Marquis Law Group combines our deep knowledge of the law with a passion for helping our neighbors.

Need Guidance?

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call 703-777-6161 or complete our intake form.


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