Weapon and Ammo Sitting on the TableYou should not take being charged with reckless discharge of a weapon in Virginia lightly. You could face severe penalties, including jail time, fines, and possibly losing your gun ownership rights if convicted. You would also experience the long-term consequences of having a permanent criminal record. However, you may be able to reduce the harsh punishments you face if you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you.

What Is Considered Reckless Discharge of a Firearm?

Reckless discharge of a firearm can be a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-56.1, someone can commit this crime in the following ways:

  • Misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm. A person would be charged with reckless discharge of a firearm as a Class 1 misdemeanor if they recklessly handle a firearm so as to endanger another person’s life, limb, or property. The firearm does not need to be discharged for this crime to have been committed.
  • Felony reckless discharge of a firearm. This crime is a felony if an individual handles a firearm in a manner that is so gross, wanton, and culpable that shows a reckless disregard for human life and results in someone suffering permanent and significant physical impairment. This offense would be a Class 6 felony.

What Are the Punishments for Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in Virginia?

You face harsh penalties if you are convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm. The judge would use sentencing guidelines that use many factors, like your criminal history, to determine your sentence if the offense is a felony. Here are the possible punishments for these crimes:

  • Misdemeanor. If convicted of Class 1 misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm, you may face a 12-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Felony. If convicted of felony reckless discharge of a firearm, you may be sentenced to one to five years in prison. However, the judge or jury would have the discretion to sentence you to a maximum of 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
  • Reckless discharge of a firearm while hunting. If you were hunting, gaming, or pursuing game when recklessly discharging a firearm, you could lose your hunting license and hunting privilege for one to five years. This punishment would be in addition to the sentence for a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
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