Virginia Exile – Reducing Gun Violence

Reducing Gun Violence

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office works in partnership with the Henrico County Police to reduce gun violence and homicides through joint efforts in enforcing Virginia Exile laws. We do this by prosecuting unlawful possession and use of firearms and other weapons by (1) convicted felons, (2) people who possess and distribute illegal drugs, (3) people who bring firearms into our schools, (4) people subject to protective orders, and (5) people who file false applications to purchase firearms.

Prior Felony Convictions and Firearms

Any person who possesses a firearm after having previously been convicted of a felony is guilty of a Class 6 felony, which carries a penitentiary sentence of up to five years. A person whose prior felony conviction is a non-violent conviction faces between two to five years in prison, two years of which is a mandatory minimum sentence if the prior felony conviction occurred less than ten years ago. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.2.

A person whose prior felony conviction is a violent conviction faces a mandatory minimum five years in prison. Violent felonies include crimes such as rape, robbery, homicide, burglary, third-offense domestic assault, and numerous other violent crimes. They also include convictions for attempting to or conspiring to commit violent felonies.

Prior felony convictions include juvenile felony convictions that a person received after their fourteenth birthday.

Prior Felony Convictions and Other Weapons

A convicted felon who possesses non-firearm weapons, such as stun weapons, tasers or explosives, is also guilty of a Class 6 felony and faces up to five years in prison. In addition, a convicted felon who carries a weapon concealed on or about his person, such as a switchblade, bowie knife, machete or other type of weapon, is also guilty of a Class 6 felony. Virginia Code §§ 18.2-308.2 and 18.2-308.

Firearms and Drugs

A person who possesses a firearm while possessing Schedule I or II drugs, such as cocaine, heroine, LSD or illegal mushrooms, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. If the firearm is on or about his or her person, he or she also faces two to five years in prison, two years of which is a mandatory minimum sentence. If the person is found guilty of possessing a firearm and possessing the drugs with intent to distribute them, he or she faces a mandatory minimum five years in the penitentiary. The same mandatory sentence applies if the person possesses a firearm and more than a pound of marijuana. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.4.

Firearms in Schools

A person who possesses a firearm on school or school bus property, or on any property while a school-sponsored function is taking place, is guilty of a Class 6 felony and faces up to five years in prison. If he or she possesses the firearm with the intent to brandish it or use it, the sentence is a mandatory minimum five years in prison. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.1.

Possessing other weapons on school or school bus property, such as knives, stun weapons or tasers, is a Class 1 misdemeanor carrying up to twelve months in jail.

Firearms and Protective Orders

Any person who is subject to a protective order and who purchases or transports a firearm while the order is still in effect is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and faces up to twelve months in jail. In addition, any person who has a concealed handgun permit must surrender his or her permit for the duration of the protective order. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.1:4.

False Statements on Applications for Firearms

Any person who willfully and intentionally makes a materially false statement on an application to purchase a firearm is guilty of a Class 5 felony and faces up to ten years in prison. Virginia Code § 18.2-308.2:2

(It should be noted that it is also a felony, under Federal law, to possess a firearm if you have been convicted of a domestic assault and battery Title 18 section 922 (g)(9). Prosecution for this offense occurs in the United States District Court by the United States Attorney’s Office)

Virginia law creates a presumption that persons charged with violations of Exile statutes should be denied bond while awaiting trial.

The Henrico Exile program is an effective tool for reducing gun crimes and violent crimes in Henrico County.