Assessing Virginia Laws & Penalties For Two Firearm Weapon Crimes
The Commonwealth of Virginia features laws against a host of weapon crimes, including numerous firearm offenses. For example, Virginia prohibits any person from pointing, holding, or brandishing a firearm at anyone else. It is also a crime to discharge a firearm in or at a building or a dwelling house. If any person violates these Virginia laws, they can face misdemeanor or felony charges and criminal punishment.
Pointing, Holding, or Brandishing a Firearm
The state laws against pointing, holding, or brandishing a firearm appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-282. This section makes it unlawful to point, hold, or brandish a firearm in a way that reasonably induces a fear of being shot or injured.
It can be illegal to point, hold, or brandish other weapons that are similar in appearance to firearms. The key is that the victim in question must have a reasonable fear of being shot or injured, even if the weapon in question cannot discharge ammunition.
Any person who violates Section 18.2-282 can face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. Upon conviction for these charges, the punishment can include up to $2,500 in criminal fines and a maximum of 12 months in county jail.
That being said, pointing, holding, or brandishing a firearm can become a Class 6 felony. This elevated charge only applies, though, to offenses committed at or within 1,000 feet of a school. If convicted for a Class 6 felony in Virginia, the punishment can include up to $2,500 in criminal fines and one to five years in prison.
Discharging a Firearm in or at Buildings
The state laws against discharging a firearm in or at a building or a dwelling house appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-279. This section makes it a crime to:
- Unlawfully or maliciously discharge a firearm;
- Within or at a building or a dwelling house; and
- In a way that endangers the life or safety of any person within the structure in question.
Any person who violates Section 18.2-279 in an unlawful manner is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The punishment upon conviction will likely be substantially similar to the one described in the previous section.
On the other hand, any person who violates Section 18.2-279 in a malicious fashion is guilty of a Class 4 felony. If convicted for a Class 4 felony in Virginia, the punishment can include up to $100,000 in criminal fines and two to 10 years in prison.
Furthermore, if a violation of Section 18.2-279 results in the death of a victim, the offender can face charges for murder. If the offender acted in a malicious way, the act qualifies as second-degree murder. But if the offender acted in a willful, deliberate, and premeditated fashion, it qualifies as first-degree murder.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about Virginia charges for firearm weapon crimes or similar offenses, the Leesburg criminal defense attorneys at Simms Showers LLP can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation.