Generally, it is against the law to carry a weapon that is hidden from common observation in Virginia.
Of course, few gun laws are that simple.
If you or a loved one are charged with carrying a concealed weapon in violation of Virginia Code §182.-308, then we encourage you to learn more about the weapons included in this law, exceptions to this law, potential penalties for violating this law, and how an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer can help you.
What Is a Weapon?
For purposes of Virginia’s concealed weapon law, a weapon includes a(n):
- Pistol, revolver, or other type of gun
- Dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack
- Any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected to allow them to swing freely such as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain
- Disc having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled, such as a throwing star or oriental dart
Additionally, any weapon that is similar to those described above is considered a weapon for purposes of Virginia’s concealed weapon law.
Legal Consequences for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Virginia
The potential penalties for violating Virginia’s concealed weapon law become more significant with each conviction under this law or a substantially similar county, city, or town ordinance. Specifically:
- A first conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a potential jail sentence of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a jail sentence and a fine.
- A second conviction is a Class 6 felony with a possible prison term of not less than one year and not more than five years, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a prison term and a fine.
- A third or subsequent conviction is a Class 5 felony, and the potential sentence may include a prison term of not less than one year and not more than ten years, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a prison term and a fine.
These sentences apply unless an exception to Virginia’s concealed weapon law is relevant to your case.
Exceptions to Virginia’s Concealed Weapon Law
There are many exceptions to the concealed weapon law. For example, it is legal for people to carry concealed weapons in or while:
- Their own homes
- Their own businesses
- Their personal car, motor vehicle, or vessel (as long as the weapon is secured in a container or compartment)
- Going to or from an established shooting range (but the weapon must be unloaded and securely wrapped)
- Going to or from a bona fide weapons exhibition, if the person is a regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization (the weapon must be unloaded and securely wrapped)
- Going to or from home and a place of purchase or repair (if the weapon is unloaded and securely wrapped)
- Going to or from a firearms training course (again, the weapon must be unloaded and securely wrapped)
Additionally, it is legal for the following people to carry concealed weapons in limited circumstances:
- A law enforcement officer or retired law enforcement officer
- Hunters engaged in lawful hunting when weather conditions require temporary protection of the firearm
- An attorney or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia
- A judge or justice of the Commonwealth of Virginia
- United States mail carriers, while working or commuting
- Virginia correctional institution officers and guards, while working or commuting
- Conservators of the peace, while working or commuting. This does not apply to notaries public, registrars, drivers, or others in charge of motor vehicle carrier of passengers for hire or commissioners in chancery
- Noncustodial employees of the Department of Corrections designated to carry weapons by the Director of the Department of Corrections
- The City of Hopewell’s Harbormaster
Finally, even if you don’t fall into any of these categories, you may raise an affirmative defense if you are accused of carrying a concealed handgun, and you have a valid concealed handgun permit.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Before It’s Too Late
You have a lot at stake if you’ve been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon in Virginia. A mistake in your defense could mean that you serve a jail sentence, pay a fine, and have a criminal record. Please make sure that your rights are protected. Call our experienced Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyers today to learn more.