Concealed Carry Criminal Charge in Virginia

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by | June 24, 2024

In this post our Criminal Defense Practice Group briefly discusses a Concealed Carry Criminal Charge in Virginia. Virginia gun laws are complex, involving a number of different statutes, and individuals should understand all applicable laws before purchasing, possessing, or carrying a firearm. 

In general, as long as a person has a valid concealed handgun permit, it is legal to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia (subject to various important exceptions). Without a valid permit, it is generally illegal in Virginia for a person carry a concealed handgun—though there are some exceptions to this prohibition.

What is a Concealed Carry Violation of Va. Code § 18.2-308?

Virginia Code § 18.2-308 governs the carrying of concealed weapons. It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a valid permit. The law covers a range of weapons including, but not limited to:

  • Handguns
  • Bowie knives
  • Switchblade knives
  • Machetes
  • Razor blades

To legally carry a concealed firearm in Virginia, individuals must obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) from the circuit court in their county of residence.

Exceptions to Concealed Carry Prohibition

There are specific exceptions and defenses available under Va. Code § 18.2-308, including the following:

  1. Personal Property: Individuals may carry a concealed weapon within their own place of residence, own property, or place of business without needing a permit. This exception recognizes the right to protect oneself in private spaces.
  2. Law Enforcement and Military Personnel: Active and retired law enforcement officers, as well as certain military personnel, are exempt from the restrictions on carrying concealed weapons. This exemption acknowledges their training and duty to maintain public safety.
  3. Certain Government Officials: Judges, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, and other designated government officials are permitted to carry concealed weapons while performing their official duties. This exception is intended to enhance their personal security due to the nature of their work.
  4. Transportation of Unloaded Firearms: Individuals transporting an unloaded firearm in a secured container or compartment within a vehicle are not considered to be carrying a concealed weapon. This provision facilitates the legal transportation of firearms, ensuring they are not readily accessible for immediate use.
  5. Hunting and Sporting Activities: Persons engaged in lawful hunting, trapping, or fishing activities may carry weapons appropriate for those activities. This exception requires the individual to hold any necessary permits or licenses related to the activity.
  6. Firearms Safety Training Courses: Individuals attending firearms safety or training courses may carry firearms as part of the course activities. This allows for the practical application of training under supervised conditions.
  7. Private Security Personnel: Licensed private security personnel are allowed to carry concealed weapons in the course of their employment. This acknowledges their role in providing protection and maintaining security for their clients.

What are the Consequences of Violating Va. Code 18.2-308?

The penalties for violating Va. Code § 18.2-308 are serious and reflect the state’s commitment to maintaining public safety. Violations can result in:

  • Criminal Charges: Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, which is the most serious class of misdemeanor in Virginia. A subsequent offense is classified as a Class 6 felony. A third offense is a Class 5 felony.
  • Jail Time: A conviction for a first offense can lead to up to 12 months in jail. For a second offense, penalties can include one to five years in prison.
  • Fines: Those convicted of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon can face fines up to $2,500. The amount can vary based on the specifics of the offense and the individual’s prior record.
  • Permanent Record: A conviction will appear on your criminal record, potentially affecting future employment opportunities, especially those involving security or law enforcement roles.

Consulting with Experienced Fairfax County Criminal Defense Attorneys

Facing a concealed carry criminal charge under Va. Code § 18.2-308 necessitates the expertise of a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands both the complexities of Virginia firearms law and the nuances of local legal proceedings. If you have been charged with violating firearms laws in Fairfax County, Arlington County, or Alexandria City, Virginia, contact our experienced criminal defense team to discuss your case and explore your options.