The gun you hold doesn’t have to work for you to be convicted of a crime in Virginia. Virginia Code §18.2-282 makes it a crime to “to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas-operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another.”
Criminal Charges for Brandishing a Firearm in Virginia
In most cases, brandishing a firearm is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The potential sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor is up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and a criminal record.
However, brandishing a firearm can be a Class 6 felony if the incident occurs on or near school grounds. Specifically, you may be charged with a Class 6 felony if the alleged crime occurred on the property of a public, private, or religious elementary, middle, or high school or on public property within 1,000 feet of school property. The sentence for a Class 6 felony includes one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, and a criminal record.
Possible Defenses to Brandishing a Firearm Crimes
You are not guilty of brandishing a firearm just because the Commonwealth of Virginia charges you with a crime. You may have one or more possible defenses, including:
- The Commonwealth didn’t prove the elements of the crime. The Commonwealth has the burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted. For example, if prosecutors fail to prove that your actions reasonably induced someone else’s fear, then the state has failed to prove its case against you.
- You were acting in self-defense. Virginia Code §18.2-282 does not apply to anyone acting in “inexcusable or justifiable self-defense.” You may be acting in self-defense if you reasonably believe that you are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death and your action is reasonable in relation to the threatened harm.
- You were acting in defense of others. If the other person would have a legal defense of self-defense, then you may act in that person’s defense.
- You are a police officer and you were acting in your official capacity.
An experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney will review every aspect of your case and raise all possible defenses.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Before it’s Too Late