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SIMMS SHOWERS LLP Leesburg & Loudoun County Attorney
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Is It A Crime In Virginia To Carry A Concealed Handgun?


Even though the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution authorizes individuals to “bear arms,” the Commonwealth of Virginia imposes limitations. For example, it can be a misdemeanor or felony weapon crime to carry a concealed weapon, including handguns. But if a person obtains a valid concealed handgun permit, they may be exempt from prosecution for this offense.

What is the Virginia Definition of a Handgun?

The definition of a handgun appears at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-307.1. This section defines a handgun as:

  • Any pistol or revolver;
  • Originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by explosion of combustible material; and
  • Capable of being held in one hand.

That being said, there is an exception to Section 18.2-307.1. The term handgun does not refer to any machine gun.

Is it Legal to Carry a Concealed Handgun in Virginia?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-308 makes it unlawful to carry and conceal from common observation any:

  • Pistol, revolver, or other weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by explosion of combustible material;
  • Ballistic knife, blackjack, bowie knife, dirk, machete, metal knucks, razor, sling bow, spring stick, or switchblade knife;
  • Flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts that are connected and able to swing freely, such as a nun-chuck, shuriken, or fighting chain;
  • Disc with at least two points or pointed blades intended to be thrown or propelled, such as a throwing star or oriental dart; or
  • Other weapons that mirror the characteristics described above.

Any person who violates Section 18.2-308 will be charged and punished as outlined below:

  • First Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of $2,500 in criminal fines and 12 months in jail;
  • Second Offense — Class 6 felony punishable by up to $2,500 in criminal fines and one to five years in prison; or
  • Third or Subsequent Offense — Class 5 felony punishable by up to $2,500 in criminal fines and one to 10 years in prison.

Does Virginia Issue Permits to Carry a Concealed Handgun?

However, there is an affirmative defense to a violation of Section 18.2-308 that involves carrying a concealed handgun. A person may claim this affirmative defense if they possess a valid concealed handgun permit at the time of the violation.

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-308.01, any person carrying a concealed handgun must also have their permit and photo identification at the same time. But even individuals with a concealed handgun permit must refrain from concealed carry:

  • On property or in places where handgun possession is prohibited by law; or
  • On private property where handgun possession is prohibited by the owner.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal assistance with Virginia charges for a weapon crime, it can be immensely worthwhile to consult with an experienced Leesburg criminal defense lawyer. The lawyers at Simms Showers LLP feature demonstrated capabilities in criminal defense, including weapon crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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