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Virginia Weapon Crimes Involving ‘Sawed-Off’ Shotguns & Rifles

Guns

Virginia law prohibits many types of weapon crimes. Of particular note, there are severe penalties in place for offenses that involve the discharge of firearms. On top of those rules and regulations, Virginia has dedicated provisions that address “sawed-off” shotguns and rifles. From a general standpoint, Virginia outlaws these weapons, though as noted below there are various exceptions.

Definition of ‘Sawed-Off’ Shotguns & Rifles

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-299 defines the terms “sawed-off shotgun” and “sawed-off rifle.” The term “sawed-off shotgun” refers to any weapon that:

  • Was originally designed a shoulder weapon;
  • Utilizes a self-contained cartridge with pellets or projectiles;
  • Fires simultaneously from a smooth or rifled bore with a single function; and
  • Has a barrel length of less than 16 inches for rifled-bore weapons or 18 inches for smooth-bore weapons.

The term “sawed-off rifle” refers to a rifle of any caliber that:

  • Was designed a shoulder weapon;
  • Expels a projectile by action of an explosion of combustible material; and
  • Has a barrel length of less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches.

Possession or Use of ‘Sawed-Off’ Shotguns & Rifles

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-300 creates the laws against possession or use of sawed-off shotguns and rifles. It is a Class 2 felony under this section to possess or use any sawed-off shotgun or rifle to commit — or attempt to commit — any crime of violence.

The punishment for a Class 2 felony in Virginia can include imprisonment for five to 20 years and criminal fines up to $100,000.

Furthermore, Section 18.2-300 also makes it a Class 4 felony to possess or use any sawed-off shotgun or rifle for an unlawful purpose.

The punishment for a Class 4 felony in Virginia can include imprisonment for two to 10 years and criminal fines up to $100,000.

Exceptions to Rules for ‘Sawed-Off’ Shotguns & Rifles

Virginia law contains several exceptions to the rules governing sawed-off shotguns and rifles. Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-303, these rules do not apply to:

  • The manufacture or sale of sawed-off shotguns or rifles for law enforcement or the military; or
  • Sawed-off shotguns and rifles issued to law enforcement or the military.

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-303.1, these rules do not apply to:

  • The possession of sawed-off shotguns or rifles in compliance with U.S. federal law;
  • The possession of sawed-off shotguns or rifles for scientific purposes; or
  • The possession of sawed-off shotguns or rifles that are unusable and serve as a curiosity, ornament, or keepsake.

Do You Need Legal Help?

For help from an experienced Leesburg weapon crimes lawyer, contact Simms Showers LLP. We are prepared to assist you today.

SOURCES:

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-299/

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-300/

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-303/

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-303.1

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