What does it mean to brandish a weapon, and can brandishing a firearm get you in legal hot water in Virginia? There is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the phrase “brandishing a firearm.” However, the potentially significant criminal consequences a person can face for breaking the law are clear-cut.
Our criminal defense team at Bain Sheldon wants to protect your legal rights. Protecting your rights begins with helping you understand the criminal justice system. What does it mean to brandish a firearm, and how can you defend yourself from a potential criminal conviction?
What Is Brandishing a Firearm?
The word “brandish” means to exhibit or expose something in an aggressive, threatening, or ostentatious manner. Virginia law defines brandishing a firearm as holding a gun, firearm, or something similar-looking in a manner that induces fear in others. Displaying and waving a gun around threateningly can be considered brandishing a firearm. Aggressively showing off a replica, model gun, or gas-operated weapon incapable of firing rounds can still be considered brandishing a firearm if the person doing the showing off intends to make those who see them feel fear.
Is Brandishing a Firearm a Crime in Richmond, Virginia?
Yes. Brandishing a firearm is a crime in the Commonwealth. The crime is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor offense in most cases. However, it can rise to a Class 6 felony offense if an individual brandishes a firearm inside a religious, private, or public school or on public property within 1,000 feet of school grounds or buildings.
Penalties for Brandishing a Firearm Convictions
The penalties for brandishing a firearm depend on the nature of the offense. For a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction, an individual can face:
- Fines up to $2,500
- Up to one year in jail
For offenses rising to the level of a Class 6 felony offense, penalties can include:
- Fines up to $2,500
- Jail time from one to five years
Brandishing firearm convictions can leave you with a criminal record, making securing a job and housing challenging. Such a conviction may also impact your ability to seek educational opportunities, damage your financial stability, and hurt your personal and professional reputation. Beyond the legal consequences, those with a criminal conviction on their record find navigating life post-conviction challenging because of stigmatization.
Defenses for Brandishing a Firearm
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you by protecting your rights after an arrest. They can also work on crafting a compelling defense strategy designed to achieve the best result based on your situation’s circumstances, potentially negating some of the severe consequences of a criminal conviction.
One of the most common defense strategies for allegations of brandishing a firearm is self-defense or the defense of others. Those reasonably believing that their life or the lives of others are in imminent danger may respond with a reasonable amount of force to protect themselves. Other potential defenses include mistaken identity, when the accused wasn’t the person brandishing the weapon, or having an alibi, such as when the accused has evidence they were in another location at the time of the incident.
A knowledgeable defense attorney can review the unique circumstances of your situation and devise a defense strategy that addresses the facts in your case.
Fight Back by Contacting an Experienced Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer
Before you talk to anyone, talk to an experienced Richmond, Virginia, criminal defense attorney with Bain Sheldon. Our legal team is committed to helping you navigate the complicated criminal justice system and protecting your rights every step of the way.
Contact or call our office immediately at 804-282-8625 to arrange a confidential legal consultation. We are prepared to fight for you.