Brandishing a Firearm

In Virginia, you can be charged with “Brandishing a Firearm” if you point, hold, or brandish a firearm (or something that resembles a firearm) in a manner that induces fear in another person.

Specifically, the Virginia Code states:

“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.”- Virginia Code 18.2-282

Virginia is an “open carry” state which means that you may visibly carry a firearm about your person, in a holster, without a permit. (You need a Concealed Handgun Permit to carry your firearm concealed.)  If you draw your firearm from its holster, you risk being charged with brandishing a firearm if someone claims to have been put in fear.  You should only draw your gun if you are justified in using it for self-defense.  In other words, don’t draw a gun unless you are justified in firing it.

…this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense.”- Virginia Code 18.2-282


‘Brandishing a Firearm’ is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.  In addition, a judge may order the destruction of the firearm and may consider revoking a defendant’s concealed handgun permit.

Consequences for ‘Brandishing a firearm’ in the vicinity of a school is classified as a Class 6 Felony, which can be punished with up to a 5 year prison sentence.

Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. – Virginia Code 18.2-282

If you have been charged with Brandishing a Firearm in Virginia Beach or another city in the greater Hampton Roads area, call us today for a free consultation. (757) 384-4357.

Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

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