Survey Of Virginia Weapon Crimes Involving Machine Guns
Within the domain of Virginia crimes involving health and safety, there are numerous weapons offenses. In addition to laws governing firearms from a general standpoint, the Uniform Machine Gun Act provides several specific laws relating to weapons capable of automatic fire. Before delving into the details of particular offenses, however, it will be beneficial to review the Virginia definition of a machine gun.
Virginia Definition of a Machine Gun
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-288 establishes the definition of a machine gun. Under this section, a machine gun refers to any weapon that:
- Fires or is designed to fire more than one round automatically; and
- Uses a single function of the trigger without manual reloading.
Using Machine Gun in Crime of Violence
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-289 makes it illegal to possess or use a machine gun in the commission of a crime of violence. This section also makes it unlawful to possess or use a machine gun in the attempted commission of a crime of violence. Either way, the punishment remains the same.
Under Virginia law, the term “crime of violence” applies to any of the following crimes or an attempt to commit the same:
- Malicious wounding;
- Breaking and entering;
- Housebreaking; or
Any person who possesses or uses a machine in a crime of violence — or attempts to commit such a crime — will face Class 2 felony charges in Virginia. If convicted, the punishment can include a prison sentence of 20 years to life and criminal fines up to $100,000.
Using Machine Gun with Aggressive Purpose
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-290 makes it illegal to possess or use a machine gun for an offensive or aggressive purpose. In terms of what qualifies as an offensive or aggressive purpose, it is necessary to review Code of Virginia Section 18.2-291.
Under Virginia law, possession or use of a machine gun is deemed for an “offensive or aggressive purpose” if:
- The person possessing the machine gun is away from their home, business, or other location that they own or rent;
- The person possessing or using the machine gun was previously convicted of a crime of violence in any U.S. court;
- The machine was not registered, in violation of Code of Virginia Section 18.2-295; or
- There are loaded or empty shells in the immediate vicinity.
Any person who possesses or uses a machine gun for an offensive or aggressive purpose will face Class 4 felony charges in Virginia. If convicted, the punishment can include a prison sentence between two and 10 years as well as criminal fines up to $100,000.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you are facing weapons charges, the team at Simms Showers LLP can help. Reach out to our skilled Leesburg weapons offenses attorneys today for a consultation.