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Fairfax Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Charges

Because it could put lives at risk, unlawfully firing a gun carries some serious consequences. When you are charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Fairfax, a local gun attorney could make all the difference in your future.

Lawful Discharge Conditions

Guns are not only used in criminal contexts; they are also recognized as tools for protection, recreation, and providing for one’s family. Below are conditions where a person might lawfully discharge a firearm:

  • In self-defense
  • Hunting wild game
  • Practicing at a gun range
  • Engaging in a firearms sport

When an innocent person faces unlawful discharge of a firearm charges in Fairfax, an attorney could help collect evidence supporting a lawful condition.


In the case of encountering a trespasser, using a firearm is not necessarily considered self-defense. A person is entitled to protect themselves only when they find themselves in danger of deadly force by the perpetrator or trespasser. However, when a person is simply trespassing on their property and the owner is not placed in danger of assault or death, they cannot legally use a firearm against the trespasser.

Unlawful Discharge Conditions

Anywhere firearms are not explicitly lawfully allowed is an improper place to discharge one. If a person is not partaking in the lawful activities mentioned above, they should not be discharging their firearm.

It is unlawful to discharge firearms in public places or where there may be bystanders or individuals who could get hurt by the discharge of such weapons. Specifically, Virginia Code § 18.2-279 considers it a Class 4 felony to willfully shoot a gun at or within a building that is occupied. In the case of shooting at or in schools, the offense remains a Class 4 felony, whether or not the school is occupied by anyone.

Possible Penalties for Unlawful Discharge

The penalties for unlawful discharge of a firearm depend on where it occurred. If it was a public place without legal justification, that could simply be a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the conduct resulted in a bystander or other individual being harmed, that would elevate the unlawful discharge to a felony.

Further, if someone were to discharge a firearm toward an occupied building, house, or vehicle, those would be felony charges with penalties of two to ten years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Defenses for Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm

The main defenses against the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Fairfax are proving it was a purposeful discharge or a justified discharge.

For example, if someone was cleaning their firearm and accidentally discharged it, that could be a defense because the action was not purposeful. Alternatively, if someone were to discharge their firearm in a public place for their own self-defense or for the defense of another, that could be a legal justification.

Call Now for Help With Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Charges in Fairfax

If you were charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Fairfax, we are here for you. Our dedicated criminal defense attorney proudly provides free consultations so you can know your rights and thoroughly understand all your options. Contact us now to get started.

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