Will I be Charged with One Felony for Each Firearm I Possess?

Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.2 criminalizes various firearms offenses, most notably possession of firearms by convicted felons. In addition to possession of firearms, the transportation of firearms by those convicted of felonies is also illegal. The possession of ammunition and other weapons such as stun is prohibited too.

There are strict mandatory minimum sentences judges must impose for violent and nonviolent convicted felons.

For example, a person who has been convicted of a violent felony, such as Robbery or Abduction, including juvenile adjudications, faces a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence if convicted under the statute. Judges in Virginia cannot suspend this type of mandatory minimum sentence under any circumstance.

On the other hand, a person who has been convicted of a nonviolent felony, such as Grand Larceny or Possession of a Schedule I/II Drug, including juvenile adjudications, faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years in prison.

One frequently asked question in this area of the law is whether a person convicted of a felony will be charged with a separate felony for each firearm they possess. Said another way: if police find three guns, will a person be charged with three felony counts of Possession of Firearm by a Convicted Felon?

Unlike with the Possession of Controlled Substance statutes, the firearms statute is different.

Courts view the number of violations of the law based on the “number of occasions” a person possesses these type of weapons.

This means that if a person possessed an illegal firearm at multiple times (such as at their house on Monday and in their car on Thursday), each instance constitutes a separate felony offense.

Another example would be if a person is found to be in possession of a firearm next to them in a car they own after being pulled over during a traffic stop and also in their hotel room after police execute a search warrant three days later, the police are proper to charge that person with two counts of felony possession.

However, if that same person were found to be in possession of three firearms in the car they were driving, the police would be proper in charging them with only one felony instead of three.

Each firearm offense is unique and various defenses exist, including self-defense and defense of others. Defense counsel must move the court to order police to preserve important evidence such as body camera footage and dash camera footage as soon as possible.

Especially because of the mandatory minimum sentences involved with firearm charges, you are best served to have experienced local defense counsel represent you in court.