top of page

Gun Crimes in Virginia

Virginia gun laws
Norfolk Criminal Defense Attorney, Chad Dorsk  | Dorsk Law Office Represents People Charged with Gun Crimes in Virginia

Aggressive Defense in General District and Circuit Court | Defending People Charged with Carrying Concealed Weapons, Reckless Handling of Firearms, and Possession of Firearms by Convicted Felons.

Gun crimes in Virginia are taken seriously and may result in a felony or misdemeanor conviction depending on the facts alleged. Penalties range from short terms in jail to mandatory time in prison, as well as hefty fines, probation and driving restrictions depending on the factors at hand. Needless to say your life could be adversely impacted forever if you’re found guilty of a gun crime in Virginia. Contact Dorsk Law Office, P.L.C., and Chad G. Dorsk, an experienced Virginia gun lawyer, will be happy to discuss your options for the best way to handle your particular case.

Concealed Weapon Crimes in Virginia

Virginia Code Section 18.2-308 covers concealed weapon crimes in Virginia, and prohibits carrying a weapon on your person and “hidden from common observation.” The weapons prohibited from concealment in this code include pistols, revolvers or any other weapons designed to fire a bullet or missile through the explosion of combustible material. They also prohibit the concealment of bladed weapons such as dirks, machetes, razors, metal knuckles and bowie knives and switchblades, nun chucks and throwing stars among others.

This same code states the penalties for such crimes upon conviction, which include a Class 1 misdemeanor resulting in up to 1 year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines for first-time offenders. For second-time offenders, the penalty is a Class 6 felony which includes a sentence of either up to one year in jail or between one and five years in prison (at the discretion of the court), as well as up to $2,500 in fines. For third-time offenders, the penalty is a Class 5 felony, including between one and 10 years in prison or up to one year in jail, and up to $2,500 in fines.


Exceptions to this law are for:

  • A person in his own home or place of business

  • Law enforcement officers (includes retired LEO)

  • Individuals traveling to or from a shooting range, gun repair shop or weapons exhibition (must be unloaded and securely wrapped)

  • Individuals engaged in legal hunting (must be unloaded and securely wrapped)

  • Individuals with proper permits (concealed carry)


Concealment is often shrouded in mystery and difficult to understand without a complete understanding of this often changing and in many cases subjective portion of the law.  An experienced Virginia gun lawyer like Chad G. Dorsk can assist you in fighting the case or engaging in beneficial plea negotiations with the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Public Firearm Discharge

In Virginia, state code 18.2-280 prohibits willfully discharging firearms in public places, defined as a street in any town or city, or in a public place of business or gathering. If this action does not result in injury to another individual, the penalty is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to $2,500 in fines and no more than one year in jail. If these actions do result in another individual’s injury, the penalty is a Class 6 felony including either up to one year in jail or between one and five years in prison, along with a $2,500 fine.

If this crime is committed on school grounds, or within 1,000 feet of school grounds from a piece of public property, the penalty is a Class 4 felony which includes between two and 10 years of prison time as well as a fine not to exceed $100,000.

Public firearm discharge charges are extremely serious and can very well result in a felony conviction, making it extremely difficult to maintain current employment and find stable work in the future, not to mention the associated jail or prison time and fines. A qualified Virginia gun attorney will use expert knowledge of state gun laws and legal defenses to protect your rights and build a strong case.

Displaying or Using a Firearm in Commission of a Felony

State code 18.2-53.1 prohibits the use or display of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony crime. The penalty for this crime is a “distinct felony” resulting in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years (first-time offenders) or 5 years (subsequent offenders), to be served consecutively with punishments for the felony committed while displaying or using the firearm.

Use of a firearm in the commission of a felony charges are often coupled with robbery, abduction and other alleged violent crimes, which require an expert Virginia defense attorney. If charged with 18.2-53.1 then call Dorsk Law Office, Plc. immediately.


Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

Are you are a convicted felon? If you answered YES, then it is unlawful for you to possess a firearm unless your right to do so has been restored by a court. So if you have a felony record, and a police officer realizes you are in possession of a firearm, the officer will almost certainly arrest you and seize the gun as evidence.

Firearm by Felon in Virginia

This crime is defined by: Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.2  

This code section has 3 basic sections:

  1. That you were previously convicted of a Felony 

  2. OR that on some date after July 1, 2005, while you were a juvenile, you were adjudicated delinquent (like “found guilty” but for juveniles) for Murder, Armed Robbery by gun, or Rape; OR that you are under the age of 29, and were adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile 14 years of age or older for any felony.

  3. That you knowingly and intentionally possessed or transported such firearm in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Possession of a Firearm by Felon is a Class 6 Felony in Virginia

Any person who was previously convicted of a “violent felony” will be sentenced to 5 years of mandatory imprisonment to run consecutive to any other sentence.

Any person who was previously convicted of a non-violent felony within the past 10 years will be sentenced to a minimum mandatory of 2 years imprisonment to run consecutive to any other sentence.

If neither of those applies, the sentence could include time in jail or prison up to 5 years, as applies with all Class 6 Felonies in Virginia. Which includes:

  1. Possession of ammunition by a convicted felon

  2. And those non-violent felons whose convictions are older than 10 years.


Defenses for Possession of a Firearm by Felon

Virginia law provides some exceptions to this law. You may have a good defense to being charged under this particular statute if any of the following apply to you:

  1. You only possessed a Stun Gun, and were at or very near your own residence.

  2. You were carrying out your duties as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or of the National Guard of Virginia or of any other state.

  3. The governor of Virginia restored your gun rights previously.

  4. Your right to possess firearms or ammunition has been restored under the law of another state.

  5. The evidence against you was unlawfully obtained in violation of your Fourth Amendment Rights.

  6. The evidence against you was unlawfully obtained in violation of your Miranda rights.


Illegal Search and Seizure in Possession of a Firearm by Felon Cases

Even when you were unlawfully in possession of a firearm, the Commonwealth and Police must still adhere to the principals of the United States Constitution in the form of the 4th Amendment.


Take for example the case won at the Virginia Court of Appeals by Chad G. Dorsk, the attorney for Dorsk Law Office, Plc. In Minter v. Commonwealth (2014), a recently considered a case where the Defendant had been charged with this crime, and his attorney, Chad G. Dorsk, moved to suppress the evidence of the gun, because police had violated the defendant’s rights.


To read the Minter case click here.


In that case, the Defendant, a felon, was carrying a concealed gun when officers saw him walking in a public parking lot. While they drove their unmarked vehicle slowly past, the defendant appeared very interested in their vehicle and began to walk away faster, crossing a muddy pool of water to get away. Officers stopped their vehicle and asked to speak to him and he agreed. The defendant appeared very nervous and was shaking and stammering over his words. The defendant reached into his pockets twice and after the officers had told him to keep his hands out of his pockets. Officers conducted a pat-down and asked the defendant if he had any weapons. He stated that he did, and they located a handgun on his person.  At the defendant’s trial, the evidence of the gun was allowed and he was convicted.  But the Defendant appealed that decision.

On his appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the Defendant had been “seized” by the police officers at the moment they did the frisk, or “pat-down”. And when they did that, they did not have reasonable suspicion to believe the Defendant had been committing a crime, and they had no other reason to believe he was carrying a weapon.  Because they did the pat-down without reasonable suspicion, the gun should not have been admitted into evidence at the Defendant’s trial. As a result, the Defendant’s conviction was reversed.

REMEMBER:  Officers have to follow the rules, and if they haven’t followed the rules in your case, an experienced attorney who has handled firearm cases like Mr. Minter’s should be able to help you get the best outcome.  Many of these same principles apply to various drug cases as well.

Can I get my Gun Rights Restored?

Maybe.  You can petition to have your right to possess a firearm restored. That petition is usually made in the Circuit Court, and a firearm law attorney should be able to help you with the process. The Virginia State Police have provided some good information regarding Restoration of Gun Rights.


A Virginia Gun Lawyer Can Help

All alleged gun crimes, even those resulting in misdemeanors, must be taken very seriously in Virginia. A skilled Virginia gun lawyer with a strong track record of success is your best defense in fighting the charges and maintaining your freedom. Contact Dorsk Law Office, Plc. to schedule a free consultation at 757-423-0271.

Representing clients throughout Hampton Roads including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Suffolk, Hampton, and the surrounding areas.
bottom of page