Brandishing Criminal Charge in Virginia § 18.2-282

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by | September 20, 2021

What is Virginia law on Brandishing?

The Virginia Law on Brandishing a weapon states that:

“It shall be unlawful for any person 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 or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense”

Va. Code 18.2-282

There are several important details to break out from this legal definition.

First, note the language “whether capable of being fired or not.” Which is to say that it is not an excuse if the gun is broken, or unloaded, or otherwise not able to actually fire. That does not matter for a brandishing charge.

Second, the law is not limited to firearms, but “any object similar in appearance” which can include ‘airsoft’, ‘bb’, and paintball guns, as well as models and any other object that would appear to be a firearm.

Third, the law does distinguish between public and private places to some extent, but this law does apply to private property in most instances.

Fourth, self-defense is a defense to brandishing. Self- Defense in Virginia is generally considered either “excusable” or “justifiable.” If proven, both result in acquittal. Justifiable self-defense exists when you are entirely not at fault, and innocently defend yourself against an attacker. Excusable self-defense exists when you may have been at fault in the first instance of the confrontation, but you then retreat as much as reasonably possible, and make your intent to de-escalate and end the conflict known. In that case, excusable self-defense may be a defense that is available to you.

How Is It Punished?

Brandishing is a Class 1 misdemeanor, or if within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class 6 felony. This is a charge that carries the potential for jail time and incarceration.

Hire a Virginia Brandishing Attorney Today

Brandishing carries the possibility of jail time, and may be charged as a felony which can have serious long term consequence. You should contact an attorney if you have been charged with this crime. A qualified attorney can help determine what options are best for you, and if any defenses such a self defense may be available to excuse or mitigate this charge. Our Client-Focused Criminal Defense team will learn about you and your case to provide the best advice and defense possible.