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What are the penalties for gun crimes related to "brandishing"?

Gun crimes are treated with a growing seriousness in Virginia and across the nation. Although the Commonwealth takes pride in giving residents the freedom with guns as they are intended, there are still acts with weapons that can lead to criminal allegations. A person does not necessarily need to use a gun to be charged with criminal violations. If there are claims that a person pointed, held or "brandished" the firearm, or an object that appeared to be a firearm, there could be criminal charges and accompanying penalties.

If a person does any of the above-listed acts with a firearm or a weapon that is operated with air or gas, or an object that looks similar, it is illegal. This is true whether the weapon can be fired or not, and it is done in a way that creates a reasonable fear of another person, or it is done in a public place where it would be reasonable to expect it to cause fear of being injured or shot. This does not apply if it is done in self-defense.

Those who are arrested and charged with violating this statute will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If it happens in a school of any kind or within 1,000 feet of a school, it will be a Class 6 felony. A Class 1 misdemeanor could result in jail for up to one year, a fine of $2,500 or both. A Class 6 felony could result in one to five years in jail.

If a law enforcement officer makes an arrest based on this law, there can be no civil liability if the person who was being arrested dies if the officer had reason to believe the weapon was being pointed to induce fear in others. Being convicted for gun crimes can have extensive ramifications that go beyond jail and fines. A person could lose the right to possess a weapon and it could experience a negative impact when they try to gain admittance to a school or get a job. When dealing with criminal allegations related to guns, it is crucial to understand all available defense options.

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